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November 18, 2010 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2010-11-18

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, November 18, 2010 - 3B

tell you
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the fact
then pr
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rity is
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over m
it's rele
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the bor
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and the
On t
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not sur

My model
y obsession with me to dish further dirt, but the
celebrities comes and beauty of being 44 is that one
goes in waves. I can't spends a lot less time bullshitting
u the number of times I've oneself. And none of those calls
d some were to offer me another job."
s per- Appreciative of the truth,
Viki- that's what I was. Celebrities
)age, these days don't get fired or let go
tted all - they either "weren't right for
ts to the project" or "had scheduling
y and / n conflicts." To even insinuate the
rompt- ' word "fired," much less throw
ot all it around so flippantly - that's
hem a JENNIFER really unheard of. And refresh-
weeks XU ing.
eleb- Porizkova eventually was
a fickle signed to The Huffington Post as
my friends. a monthly-ish online contributor,
at now, the bulk of my blogging about topics from aging
ion lies with Gwyneth Pal- to politics to books to the ephem-
've watched "Shakespeare eral price of beauty. I cherish
e," "Proof" and "The Royal the day these columns come out,
baums" more than 20 each containing a bittersweet,
collectively. A picture of affecting epiphany, because
th stands as a patron saint they're realer than anything I've
y dishes, and Itread her read about the cost of celebrity
al newsletter every time and beauty. There are definitely
ased. ButI know that, in people more beautiful than oth-
rt, this love will eventu- ers, she says, but it's really not as
eout. If she divorces her big a deal as people make it out
ldplay husband, or if she to be; it's about as important as
herself to get saggy and being good at sports or crossword
ill find somebody new to puzzles.
p. So lies the sad and cold In one of her Huffington
f star power. articles, "And the Shows Go
there is someone I don't On," Porizkova talks about the
'll forget about once she rises and falls of the modeling
der, less attractive or less industry, how each new girl
d. Though she's not some- replaces the next one in a mat-
ctively think about day ter of months, how seasons come
she's always there in the and go like leaves blowing in the
f my mind. She's also not wind. "All the Good Stuff Always
amous or successful - in Happens in the Ladies Room" is
e's someone perhaps one a haunting, beautiful piece about
t of the population knows running into Anna Wintour in
rny guys of the 1980s and the women's bathroom and being
who watch modeling real- completely cold-shouldered,
ws) and even fewer give a despite the fact that in her prime
tout: former international she had once graced quite a few
nodel Paulina Porizkova. covers of Wintour's magazine.
And in "Aging," she chronolo-
gizes her struggles with essen-
tially making a career out of what
rm er 'ANTM ' she looks like, only to have it all
dematerialize right in front of
.dge Paulina her. "Old age is the revenge of the
ugly ones," she cracks.
)rizkova tells I've realized the reason I love
Paulina is that she's willing to
it how it is. call out other people's bullshit.
In a world where skinnier is the
new skinny, where stars get their
imperfections pumped, squeezed
hose of you who don't and pruned with collagen and
ny crazy obsession with silicone until they are rendered
television, let me give you unrecognizable, Porizkova's
background. Porizkova words are like a breath of fresh
rom Czechoslovakia to air. Whether it's calling out
at the ripe old age of 15, hit Madonna for refusing to age or
f runways and covers for admonishing Kate Hudson for
in the late '80s and then her breast implants, her blogs are
married Cars frontman all about urging people to stay
asek in 1989 after star- true to their natural beauty.
one of his music videos. And the thing is, half the time
ust a few years ago, she you're not even sure whether
ed as a permanent judge you're supposed to believe her.
panel of my favorite show, Is she just saying all this stuff
ca's Next Top Model." because she's still bitter about
ittedly, I didn't know being fired from "Top Model"?
bout Porizkova prior to Is she merely jealous of all these
V debut. I was vaguely celebrities because they're far
of her existence as a more successful and famous than
but I treated her with as she? It's possible, but if you think
ndifference as I would about it, that's really what makes
y Turlington Burns or her human.
a Schiffer. Similarly, when I love Gwyneth Paltrow

ae on the show, she didn't because she's like the modern
such of an impression. equivalent of an English princess.
thought she was beauti- She has perfect skin, a perfect
d I thought she was kind little yoga body, perfect husband,
n - not drunken, bitchy, perfect family. She can sing, she
Dickinson mean, but can dance, she can act - and
actively mean - but some- she's got an Oscar to boot. But
vas missing. I guess what I those are all pretty one-dimen-
o say is she just wasn't that sional things to judge a person by,
able. and alot of them are constructed
n in spring of 2008 came out of images Ihave formed from
nbshell, revealed on "The the movie roles she takes or what
ate Show With Craig Fer- her PR people present about her.
'that Porizkova got fired I don't just love Paulina
Top Model" over the phone because I think she's beautiful,
before her birthday after or hilarious, or because I think
ree seasons alongside the she was the greatest judge ever
athing Tyra Banks. on 'ANTM.' I love her because for
y needed to cut some fat, all her beauty and wit, she's not
fat was me," she said, half afraid to reveal herself to the pub-
y, half not. lic as a human being - a person
he tiny little YouTube with real-life problems, struggles
on my laptop, I was struck and hopes, a person just as vulner-
sad she looked. Later, able and open to judgment as we
ealed ina blog post that are. And for that, I don't just love
after I outed myself... my her. I actually like her.

"Gibson Fleck" follows a boy looking for a home and a fa

Staging a student show

'Gibson Fleck' is the
School of MT&D's
first student musical
Daily Arts Writer
A trio of close friends who
bonded over Frank Sinatra imper-
sonations in class vowed to create
a musical
- at someG
point in the Gibson Fleck
very dis- Tonight at 7:30,
tant future. tomorrow and Satur-
After an day at 8 p.m., Sunday
unexpect- and Monday at 2 p.m.
ed open- ArfhrMillerTheafre
ing at the Tickefsf a r o
of Music,
Theatre & Dance, they had to
shorten that timetable dramati-
cally. The resulting product, "Gib-
son Fleck," will premiere this
weekend at the Arthur Miller
"We've always had this creative
energy, so we're always entertain-
ing ridiculous possibilities," said
MT&D senior A.J. Holmes, who
most recently played Tateh in the
University's production of "Rag-
Last winter, after hearing that
the School of MT&D was looking
for a new original musical to pro-
duce this fall, Holmes, along with
MT&D senior Carlos Valdes and
MT&D junior Ali Gordon, jumped
on the opportunity without trepi-
dation. Less than a year later, and
after a series of theatric twists
and tumbles, their show "Gib-
son Fleck" is the first full staging
of a musical written by current
undergrads to be produced by the
"The stars just aligned, and
instead of keeping it as a distant
fantasy in the back of our minds,
we said, 'Let's make this a real-
ity,' " said Valdes, who wrote the
music and lyrics for the musical
adaptation of "Trafford Tanzi,"
and collaborated with Holmes
on the music and lyrics for Team
StarKid's "Me and My Dick."
"Gibson Fleck" is about a young
man's search for a family and a
home after being abandoned as
a baby and inheriting his birth
mother's belongings years later.
But the story premiering tonight
is entirely different from the play
submitted to the School on July
"A gem of an idea," according
to Holmes, was all that the team
of writers had when the School
was looking for an original musi-
cal last winter. Nevertheless, they
asked the faculty if the School
would produce a play about an
orphaned boy looking for a home,
providing they wrote it over the
For past original productions,
the School has always turned to
established professional play-
wrights, some of whom have been
University alumni. But this wass
the first time current students had
pitched an original musical to the
"We knew full and well that

nothing like that had ever been
done before, that it was crazy, but
we were audacious and hopeful
enough," Valdes said.
They met with Linda Goodrich,
an associate professor in the
School, who enthusiastically sup-
ported the project and wanted to
direct it in the fall.
"This is very unique in that we
felt confident about the maturity
of the writers, that they're incredi-
bly gifted way beyond their years,"
Goodrich said.
MT&D Chair Brent Wagner
challenged them to write the play
and score first, and then pitch it to
the School on July 21.
"He kind of flipped our logic
and said, 'No, if you write it, then
maybe we'll do it,'" said Holmes.
At the beginning of May, the
group created aboard full of sticky
notes with story details and song
ideas. They wanted to flesh out
each character to tell a rich story.
"We spent countless nights in
Mason Hall charting the char-
acters' trials and tribulations on
graphs - incredibly silly," Holmes
"There were loose wires" in
the show, Valdes said, and once
they proposed it to the school,
they realized they would have to
completely revamp it. Advice all
around was to simplify - and dra-
matically so.
"I thought it was best to push
the story to the best it could be
rather than just settle on what it
was," Goodrich said.
Just a day after the pitch, the
group eliminated characters, cut
songs and slashed dialogue until
they were back at the prologue. It
was a painful prospect.
"It was very depressing because
we had spent from May all the way
to July 22 creating this story ... and
now we were scrapping 90 percent
of it," Valdes said.
"I woke up the next day, and I
looked at the script and realized
that two pages of the original 98
could remain in some way in the
show, and it was the first time that
I just cried, just cried," said Gor-
don, who recently performed in
"See Rock City" and "Me and My
With the school's website pro-
moting "Gibson Fleck, a new musi-
cal" auditions on Sept. 2, and the
play premiering Nov. 18, they had
no choice but to rewrite.
Gordon had planned to go home
to New York City in August, but
the process had to move forward
even though she wasn't in Ann
Arbor. Goodrich, who had been
giving the team feedback since
May, jumped in to guide the work.
Holmes and Valdes spent count-
less late nights at Goodrich's house
Skyping with Gordon in New York
as everyone teetered on the edge of
falling asleep.
Goodrich, who has ample expe-
rience directing new plays and
who had continually advised them,
quickly became an indispensable
member of the team.
"She's been a fourth writer for
the show, honestly, just conceiv-
ing it in a new sort of way and
making it take off," Holmes said.
Through the sleepless process

of rewriting and with Goodrich's
help, the themes of the musical
became clear. The mother-son
relationship and the theme of
searching for a home, which had
been integral from the beginning,
became more important than
ever. The writers cut extrane-
ous themes, and others emerged
They also held onto their
emphasis on storytelling which
they learned from animation
mogul Pixar.
"Throughout the summer we
held Pixar as like this huge bea-
con of light in storytelling," Valdes
said. "We always asked ourselves,
'How would Pixar tell this story?"'
The dual background in acting
and theatrical literary analysis
that the writers acquired as musi-
cal theater majors was crucial
during the process of creating the
"You've got to look to the mas-
ters to decide where you want to
go next," Gordon said.
The two music writers, Holmes
and Valdes, had gained confidence
from writing "Me and My Dick."
"The plays have different tones,
but rules for good writing and
dramatically situated songs are
the same," Holmes said.
The team has gotten extraor-
dinary feedback on the final play
and is ecstatic about the cast. The
writers didn't create characters
with performers in the depart-
ment in mind, but the two main
leads, Will Burton (Gibson Fleck)
and Holly Grossman (Gibson's
mother) are both MT&D seniors
like Valdes and Holmes. Also, Val-
des and Burton went to the same
performing arts high school in

"Their lead (role) gets to be in a
show that their friends are writ-
ing and crafting with them," Hol-
mes said of Burton and Grossman.
"They get to make their marks
on these roles before anyone else
does, and they get to make a really
good mark, because they're doing
some incredible work."
Burton, who will be on stage
for almost the entire two-hour-
plus show, emphasized that it's
exciting to work on an original
play because the actors have free-
dom to interpret and create the
character without preconceived
Though he was a bit anxious
when he first heard that fellow
students wrote the play, the mate-
rial quickly won him over.
"One we started working on it,
it was amazing," Burton said. "I
was so impressed by the writing,
and the music is very, very good,
and very dramatically sound."
Despite the behind-the-scenes
drama, the group said the project
has been better than they could
have imagined. All three of the
writers plan to keep acting and
writing, and they hope to do more
projects together in the future
after graduating. Valdes is already
churning out concrete plans, but
Gordon and Holmes need a break
"The idea of working on anoth-
er show and getting emotion-
ally invested in your characters
is obviously incredibly exciting,"
Gordon said. "But, honestly, my
greatest ambition right now is to
sleep a little bit. And it's going to
take until after the show opens to
get to that place."

ang off the hook. I'm still
e whether it was because
were appreciative of the
uth, or merely looking for

A J Holmes, Carlos Valdez and Ali Gordon wrote "Gibson Fleck

Xu is already over Gwyneth
Paltrow. To suggest her new celeb
crush, email jennifxu@umich.edu.



E-mail shacobs@umich.edu for
information on the process.

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