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February 19, 2010 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Friday, February 19, 2010 - 5


Basement Arts's production will stay true to both the Internet series's script and the theater medium.
'Dr. H1orrible' is
stealing the show

It's no secret by now that this
country has seen better times.
The gap between the haves and
have-nots has
never been
so visible, W
big company UnderCOVer
bailouts are
being handed BOSS
out like free Sundays at
T-shirts at a Sudysa
sporting event 9p.m.
and every- CBS
one jumps at
the opportunity to point fingers.
Because we have economic cri-
sis on our minds, it makes per-
fect sense to have it on our TV
sets as well. CBS's latest series
"Undercover Boss" tries to tug at
heartstrings and give America a
shoulder to cry on, but our gen-
eration's stone-cold cynicism can
see right through the fagade.
In a time when people attri-
bute the widening economic gap
to those on the rich end of the
spectrum, "Undercover Boss"
gives the CEOs of major corpo-
rations the chance to display
their hearts of gold on national
TV and to prove they're really
good guys after all. In the pre-
miere, the President and COO
of Waste Management Larry
O'Donnell assumes the identity
of Randy Lawrence, a new recruit
and subject of a documentary on
entry-level jobs in the waste dis-
posal industry, which explains
the camera crew. O'Donnell says
he's going undercover to see
where the company can be more
efficient, but it's painfully obvi-
ous he's going to learn much more
along the way.
"Undercover Boss" shoves the
best parts of the show in your
face with an overabundant use of
recaps. Before each commercial
break there's a preview of what's
coming next and after each com-

mercial break, a review of what
just happened. Supposedly this
is to create excitement and give
information to those just tuning
in, but it completely ruins the ele-
ment of surprise and dilutes all
the changes of heart and stunning
revelations that are supposed to
be the core of the show.
Those stunning revelations
and changes of heart are cute, but
nothing more. O'Donnell seems
like a nice enough guy, and it's easy
to believe he didn't know how bad
some of the conditions that come
with working at his company were
- his female garbage truck drivers
have to pee in cans because there
isn't time on the route schedule
allotted for a bathroom break. He
seems genuinely concerned, but
in the culmination of the episode
when he gives his big reveal, he
doesn't do much to resolve all he
saw.Sureheholds a meeting(com-
plete with close-ups of other cor-
porate bosses furiously scribbling
notes) and before the credits roll,
there's a nice little segment with
the employees he worked with
that illustrates how much better
their lives are now.
But somehow, it's just not that
convincing. So he promoted a .

few people and relaxed some
productivity targets, but as far
as we know, he didn't raise any
wages and hasn't made any drastic
changes to improve working con-
ditions. Perhaps now, O'Donnell
is making corporate decisions
remembering what it's like on the
other side, but his appearance on
"Undercover Boss" seems more
like good publicity for him and less
CEOs go
undercover for
publicity, not
likely to make the company more
employee friendly.
While "Undercover Boss"
had its moments - which can
be attributed to the employees,
who were really the stars in their
genuine gratitude of recognition
- it's not the grand life-changing
series it hoped to be. It tries to be
"Extreme Makeover: Home Edi-
tion," but the honesty rings false.

Basement Arts takes
on Joss Whedon's
internet sensation
Daily Arts Writer
Many distinguished Ph.D.s
come to the University to speak on
their areas of
expertise. But Dr. Honible's
this weekend,
University stu-
dents have the Blog
opportunity to T
hear from a new
kind of scholar: p.m., tomorrow
an antihero who at 4& 7 p.m.
boasts a "Ph.D. Walgreen
in horribleness." Dramb Center
Thanks to the Free
theater group Basement Arts, the
Internet phenomenon "Dr. Hor-
rible's Sing-Along Blog" is being
brought to the University stage.
Joss Whedon, the brains behind
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and
"Firefly," created this Web origi-
nal in the midst of the 2008 writ-
er's strike. In that lean time for
TV, Whedon, his brothers Jed and
Zack and Jed's wife, actress Mau-
rissa Tancharoen, helped fill the
void by presenting this musical
for a new age. A postmodern tale
of superheroes and super villains,
love triangles and new media, "Dr.
Horrible" has become a cult sensa-
tion. Originally presented for free
in serial format to a stampede of
Internet fanatics, the musical was a
favorite of critics. To the delight of
its cult following, there is currently
a sequel in the works.
Starring Neil Patrick Harris
("How I Met Your Mother"), the
miniseries follows the struggles of

the surprisingly likeable, aspiring
evil mastermind Dr. Horrible on his
failing attempts at world domina-
tion. It's a twist on the superhero
cliche, as viewers find themselves
rooting for the villain to defeat the
celebrated hero-slash-bully Captain
Hammer (Nathan Fillion, "Castle")
and win the heart of his laundro-
mat crush, Penny (Felicia Day, You-
Tube's "The Guild").
"It's a great story which is
sort of making super villains and
superheroes very much real," said
director Corey Lubowicz, School
of Music, Theatre & Dance junior.
"But it's not really so much about
being superheroes as it is about
people. It's about this guy who has
feelings for this girl and how he
struggles through what he really
wants. And that's the story I really
fell in love with."
Unlike other stage adaptations
of "Dr. Horrible," Basement Arts's
production sticks to the script and
does not add a musical number
for Dr. Horrible's soggy sidekick
Moist. But because it cannot really
replicate the rapid camera cuts of
the film medium, some changes are
"We want the spirit of what we
loved about the video and the film
and its story, but we're not really try-
ing to reproduce the video on stage,"
Lubowicz said. "We're tryingto take
the story and bring it to life ina com-
pletely different medium."
To ease the transition from Web-
only.content to the stage, Basement
Arts's adaptation makes use of pro-
jections and comic book motifs. The
quick shifts and multiple locations
of the film medium are replaced
by series of images projected on
screens like comic book pages, giv-
ing a stylized feel to the setting. The
beefy and cheesy superhero Cap-
tain Hammer won't be singing and

flexing his muscles on the top of a
moving van like in the film, but the
creative theater team will be using
technical tricks to create the same
"It really has had to be its own
beast,' said School of Music, The-
atre & Dance sophomore Kris
Reilly, who plays Dr. Horrible. "If
we tried to copy what they put on
the Internet, we would never come
quite close to the amazing nuance
and brilliance of what they accom-
plished on film. And it wouldn't
really have a life of its own."
While the production keeps
the iconic parts of "Dr. Horrible"
that fans know and love, Lubowicz
stresses that it will not be some "sad
imitation." The characters will still
be there, but maybe in some differ-
ent outfits. And he encouraged the
actors to create their own believable
and unique characters instead of
impersonating the originals.
"I'm not Neil Patrick Harris,"
Reilly stressed. "The angle that I
bring to the character really has to
be based on my own life and my own
understanding of human beings.
That's the only way he can really
be real and what I hope will be an
engaging character for the audience
to watch go through these things."
The cultural products of Joss
Whedon seem to have this unique
tendency to inspire rabid devo-
tion and fanaticism. It's the kind of
fanaticism that might not be easily
sated by a new version; however, the
team behind the Basement Arts pro-
duction stresses its devotion to the
"We all love it, so we're here to tell
the story as best we can," Lubowicz
said. "I think the fans are going to
reallyenjoy seeing the story brought
to life in a different way, while still
having the familiar elements we all
really love."

Worst Hooters waitress disguise ever.

Music white people like

What's the deal with continental European bands
having more creative names than their Anglophone
counterparts? The Go Find, an
indie-electronica venture created
by Belgian musician Dieter Ser-
meus, follows in the footsteps of The Go Find
France's Phoenix - but in coolname
only. Musically, the five-piece Flem- Everybody
ish group is far calmer and sweeter Knows It's
than its creatively titled friends. Gonna
Originally conceived as a solo , Happen Only
project, the group's sound could be Not Tonight
described as Owl City minus the Morr Music
musical Prozac overdose. Or maybe
it's Belle & Sebastian channeling
later Pavement - and did Sermeus pick up some ear-
wormingtips from the Wallflowers?
On Everybody Knows It's Gonna Happen Only
Not Tonight, The Go Find brings to mind countless
bands of the "stuff white people like" persuasion.
Yet the album's poppy electro-tweedom is focused,
addictive and ultimately doesn't sound like any
other single group.
Thirty-eight minutes of
swaying side to side.
The Go Find succeeds because it nevertries to tack-
le more than it can in a song. "It's Automatic" uses a
repetitive and simple melody to entrench itself in the
listener's head - there's nothing remarkable here, but
there's nothing to fault either. The track is an auto-
piloted radio-friendly hit, and when playful synths
bounce in near the end, it's automatically endearing.
Nearing five-and-a-half minutes, the gentle title
track is a veritable epic compared to the other songs.
Sermeus's murmured yearning "Let me take you back
/to the'90s/when we were teens" is about as straight-
forward as lyrics can get. But the track saunters along
like a pleasant, rambling walk in the park on a drizzly

Lightspeed makes life sweeter

By JASMINE ZHU would-be rabble-rousers, (here's
DailyArts Writer looking at you, The Kooks, Razor-
light, et al.).
Lightspeed Champion's Devonti "Smooth Day (at the Library)"
Hynes was that emo kid from high showcases Hynes at the pinnacle of
school who had his (post-)adolescent despair. Hynes
too many feel- * compares himself to a dusty book
ings for his own on a shelf, patiently waiting to be
good - a crazy, L hspeed checked out. "Please take me down
mixed-up teen- again, my love," he endearingly
ager with nothing n implores, while the trickling sound
to lose. And on Life is Sweet! of bells as a sparse backdrop add an
his new album, Nice to air of nostalgia. It's actually really
Life is Sweet! Nice Meet You adorable rather than annoying.
to Meet You, he . With all Hynes's penchant for
takes the liberty angst, it makes sense that he worked
of emoting to all with Saddle Creek producer Mike
of his gloomy little heart's content. Mogis on his debut album, Falling
Hynes's angst is self-referential off the Lavendar Bridge, which is
to the point that listeners realize reflected in the tone of his newest
he's being ironic - as if the exag- release. Hynes's unfettered anguish
geratedly wailing violins weren't is reminiscentofSaddle Creek's own
already enough of a dead give- crown prince of darkness, Conor
away. At the ripe old age of 25, the Oberst. But while Oberst revels in

Where Dr. Suess goes rock climbing.
day as a jazzy sax adds color to the scene.
Whether on purpose or not, Sermeus's voice tends
to emulate Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus's
simple and unexpectedly sweet tone. "Cherry Pie" is
the most obvious exapple, but dainty bells and basic
harmonies place the song squarely out of the reach
of the messy '90s. Instead, The Go Find settles com-
fortably into cutesy kiddie pop with this story of an
always-second-fiddle boy who's "sweet as cherry pie."
The Go Find's synthesized musings are concise
enough to stay interesting despite the group's lack
of innovation. Everybody Knows is classier and more
mature than its twee influences would suggest. And
since the album peters out at 38 minutes, it's hardly a
challenging listen.
The tracks often feel formulaic - slow guitar
strums here, some electronic ornamentation there,
verse-chorus-verse-chorus-fade. But then again, The
Go Find isn't pushing for a revolution.
The group makes gently swaying music to listen to
while drinking a mug of hot chocolate and gazing out a
window at the February snow. It's the epitome of "not
bad" - and that's pretty good. Even though no enve-
lopes were pushed in the making of this album, Every-
body Knows delivers a pleasant romp through The Go
Find's unique, if rather unexciting, repertoire.


England-bred Hynes is making a
return to his formative teenage
years in a coming-of-age album
rife with disillusionment, despon-
dency and all those other quint-
essential adolescent insecurities.
And he doesn't hold back, either.
His inflected Brit-pop vocals
are often tremulous, wavering
on lines such as, "I know you're
happy / And that's lovely / But it
won't keep me company," from
opening track "Dead Head Blues."
He's pouty and bitchy and sullen
and wistful. It's the last attribute
that proves to be Hynes's major
asset, and it clearly separates him
from the hordes of whiny Brit-pop

Teen angst
channeled in a
(post) coming-of-
age album.
his own wallowing, Hynes has a dif-
ferent type of bright-eyed eagerness
-there's asense things will only get
better from here. It's a tragedy you
can dance to.
"Marlene," an album standout,

Steve Urkel's hipster phase.
is an upbeat, funky fresh tune
that's almost satirically comi-
cal - pairing jaunty tambourines
against goofily depressive lyrics
like: "Everybody knows you want
a baby / And God knows every-
body wants one, too."
OnLife isSweet!Nice toMeet You,
Hynes accomplishes the remark-
able task of being sweet without
becoming saccharine in the pro-
cess. The kid's all right - his corny
lyrics are deliberately overdone
and meta enough so that listeners
don't feel like awkward losers for
being able to relate to them. So feel
free to pull on your skinniest pair
of jeans, don a black hoodie and get
your teenage kicks on again. Some-
times it's fun to be sad.

Swedish Radio
Choir comes to'U'
Swedish Radio Choir
Sunday at 4 p.m.
Hill Auditorium
Tickets from $10
The University Musical Society
is known for presenting widely
acclaimed music, dance and the-
ater performances from all over
the globe. The latest act to hit
the stage is one of the world's
foremost a cappella choirs - the,
Swedish Radio Choir.
Founded in 1925, the Swedish

Radio Choir didn't find its footing
until 1952, when it bloomed under
the inspired direction of choirmas-
ter and conductor Eric Ericson.
Ericson developed the choir into
a finely tuned entity that grew to
perform even the most advanced
choral works, including those by
famed composers Richard Strauss
and MaxReger. In fact, whenSwiss
composer Arthur Honegger heard
the choir sing his own music for
the first time, he became an avid
admirer, proclaiming the choir
could sing just about anything that
was handed to them.
Since then, the Swedish Radio
Choir has developed into an
international sensation, having
collaborated with renowned con-

ductors like Riccardo Muti, Clau-
dio Abbado and Valery Gergiev. it
is currently under the guidance of
Ragnar Bohlin, the award-win-
ning director of the San Francisco
Symphony Chorus.
Made up of 32 talented vocal-
ists, the Swedish Radio Choir
can be recognized by its exqui-
site blending of harmonies. The
choir tackles all kinds of musi-
cal arrangements from Johann
Sebastian Bach to Giovanni Pier-
luigi da Palestrina, as well as
numerous modern composers.
With their expansive repertoire
and international acclaim, the
Swedish Radio Choir is a fitting
addition to the UMS roster.

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