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June 20, 1980 - Image 7

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1980-06-20

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, June 20, 1980-Page 7


Damon R
have taken q
years, not th
the hands o
Guys and
musical lar
ters. Directo
want with sc
musical's b
ought best 1
director firs
artistic dire
designers su
Ann Arbor
Guys and Do
many of the
big-cast Civ:
of the prin
training in
cing, and the
trotting out
belting out
evident ease
Abe Burrow
with harshly
that is the
won't quit.
company ar
laughs fror
coaxing out

Broadway saga
JOSHUA PECK the heartwarming qualities of the show I
unyon's Manhattanites come from the romance of ace gambler t
uite a lot of abuse over the Sky Masterson, here played by Thomas
e least of which has been at Cooch, and Salvation Army Sergeant
f various productions of Sarah Brown, here Molly Shaheen.
Dolls, Frank Loesser's Masterson, as conceived by Runyon
ceny of Runyon's charac- and Burrows, is the kind of man who
rs are free to do what they doesn't generally have to try very hard t
ripts, of course, but every to make his gambles a success. He is
ook contains a few basic confident, slick, and debonair, and l
explicit and implicit that probably has never met a woman who f
be heeded by the casting did not eagerly respond to his advan-
t, and by the musical and ces. That puts him several cuts above ;
ctors, choreographer, and the ordinary gambling slobs who people
bsequently. the rest of the stage.
v Civic Theatre's current Cooch's Sky is nothing special; he's
ills seems to be immune to just another gambler, luckier than
diseases that have plagued most perhaps, but every bit as low as
ic musicals in the past; all the others. Benny and Harry's
cipals have considerable sleaziness adds to the comic flavor of
acting, singing, and dan- the show; in Sky, it detracts from what
chorus is unusually adept, ought to be one of the show's few
some very tricky tunes and sophisticated elements.
intricate melodies with SHAHEEN'S PROBLEM is not so
But some of Runyon's and much one the general conception of her
s material has been dealt character as it is the twists and turns
- assaulted, even - and the plot takes her through. At first
kind of problem that just sight, Sarah ought to be an inap-
proachably virginal servant of the
E is one thing Loesser and Lord, scarcely given to any pleasures
e better at than squeezing save the ones the man on the Cross of-
m their audience, it is fers her. By the end of Act II, Sarah has
a sentimental tear Most of been convinced that there is room in

slightly flawed

her life for a living man - one in par-
Sarah's transformation is spurred
along by a wild night in Havana in the
company of her pursuer. Her defenses
ought properly to come slowly unglued
as she gets drunker and gayer. But in
the Civic rendition, Shaheen forgets
about the Galilean altogether too
hurriedly. It is not entirely the actress'
fault though, for choreographer-
director Jim Posante has stuck
Shaheen in the middle of a chaotic,
overly demonstrative sequence in the
Cuban speakeasy that may be the
ugliest, most untoward hoofing the
Mendelssohn stage has ever borne.
How could Shaheen retain her com-
posure in the midst of all that?
Development problems aside, one
thing Shaheen exhibits plenty of is
sheer elegance; class. Her partner
could certainly have used some lessons
in that elusive trait.
THE OTHER two leads are played
more conventionally by Rob Nuismer
and Susan Dawson, respectively
Nathan Detroit and Adelaide. Nuismer
uses every one of his nearly 80 inches to
project the droll image of a slightly
stupid hustler-with-a-heart-of-gold. And
Dawson overcomes her usual-dif-
ficulties of poor projection and weak
characterization, surfacing with a per-
fectly tacky and exquisitely dynamic
Adelaide. Despite the fact that she in-
termittently loses her Brooklyn accent
(could the problem be that she learned
it in Rhode Island?), this Miss Adelaide
is the moat on target of any of the four
leading caricatures.
The production's strong scenes are
exceptionally so, and fall regularly
enough to keep the whole enterprise
moving nicely along. The opening num-
ber, "Fugue for Tinhorns," is expertly
rendered by Andy Lindstrom and
Taylor Nichols, and especially by Peter
Slutsker, whose brassy singing and

amusing bumbling are periodic
delights throughout the evening.
Some of the larger musical numbers
are beautifully planned and executed as
well, which makes the Havana disaster
all the curioser. "The Oldest
Established" has some freshly dopey
choreography, and "Take Back Your
Mink" is as tight and snappy as ever an
amateur company has danced it.
In Sky and Sarah's defense, their duet
"I've Never Been in Love Before" is
simply beautiful. All the slow numbers,
in fact, are sung with clarity and
emotion worthy of this best of Loesser's
scores. Had not the effort been marred
by Posante's egregious conceptual
errors, Guys and Dolls would have been
a Civic masterpiece. As it stands, only
crazed idealists will be more than
slightly disappointed.
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Q A~ll{.11a1111.G1 VG~ia. a vav

African fusion group
plays Union tonight

The term "fusion", when applied to
jazz, can describe a dizzying range of
styles and performers-from George
Benson to James "Blood" Ulmer while
it isn't advertised as a "fusion" group,
The Mandingo Griot Society comes as
close as anyone to blending a number of
disparate styles into a cohesive, im-
provisatory whole that should fit
anyone's definition of jazz.
Combining African, Eastern and
familiar Western influences the Man-
dingo Griot Society unites an inter-
national blend of musicians and
musicianship, producing a percussion-
heavy stream of ideas that are not only
rhythmically challenging but joyously
accessible as well. Jali Foday Musa
Suso, leader of the ensemble, is Gam-
bia's leading Kora player, a 21 string

cross between a harp and a lute. Musa
is also a master of Mandingo in-
struments such as the dusungoni, tamo,
bala and bolon. Joining him are Cuban
bassist Al Creido and Americans Hank
Drake (drums) and Adam Rudolph
(assorted percussion).
Eclipse Jazz is sponsoring
(naturally) two performances by the
Mandingo Griot Society this Friday,
June 20, at 8:30 and 11:00 p.m. Tickets
will be available at the door. The show
is scheduled for the outdoor Terrace at
the University Club in the Union, so
keep your fingers crossed for conducive
weather. There will also be a free
public workshop in the Kuenzel room at
4:00 p.m. It's open to musicians and
non-musicians alike and will cover
African culture as well as music.





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