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May 10, 2010 - Image 9

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2010-05-10

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Monday, May 10, 2010 9
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Harr Potter and the musical spoof

* From Hogwarts to
YouTube, StarKid
embarks on second
wizarding journey
By ADDIE SHRODES
Daily Arts Writer
Even as its members chat while
lounging on apartment couches, the
creative chem-
istry of Team
StarKid pops.
The group of Potter Sequel
past and pres- Thursday and Satur-
ent University dayat7 p.m., Friday
students who at7 p.m.and11 p.m.
run this theatri-
cal production Waigreen Drama Center
Free, standhy line only
company fused
together dur-
ing their early moments in college,
and their long shared history shows.
As the StarKids discuss their highly
anticipated "A Very Potter Sequel,"
the jokes never cease to spark.
The idea for the original "A Very
Potter Musical" ("AVPM") arose
after years of the same sort of joking
about the Harry Potter book series,
but friends of brothers and writers

Nick and Matt Lang never thought
the parody musical would material-
ize.
After Matt Lang, a 2009 LSA gradu-
ate, spontaneously put up a poster for
auditions last year, Basement Arts
picked up the show, and the play was
born.
Even though fans flooded Studio
One to see the original Potter show,
when the team uploaded the video
to YouTube months later it was still
shocked by the rapid fervid response.
"Without us even noticing, thou-
sands and thousands of people started
to watch this thing," said Nick Lang,
a 2008 graduate from the School of
Music, Theatre & Dance.
Act One, Part One of the original
musical now has over 1.5 million You-
Tube hits, capturing fans from across
the globe. The team was amazed
because it didn't intend for such a wide
audience.
"So many of the things that are
funny in the play are because they're
inside jokes," said Bonnie Gruesen
(Hermione), a 2010 School of Music,
Theatre & Dance graduate and the
producer of "AVPM." "There is so
much to enjoy about the musical,
obviously ... but it was funny to be
like, 'Wow, these people are in on our
inside jokes now.'"

In retrospect, the group mem- The popularity of the musical quick-
bers agrees the musical has drawn ly led Infinitus, a four-day Harry Pot-
so much attention because it's fresh ter fan and scholar conference to be
and one-of-a-kind. It has a fully orig- held in Orlando this July, to invite the
inal script, score and take on Harry group to perform. The team decided
COURTESY OF CHRIS DZOMBAK
Tearm StarKid has attracted a loyal colt following to its Hotter yarodies.
Potter characters. The musical fol- the best thing to bring to Orlando
lows Harry and his wizard friends' would be a full-length sequel filmed at
journey through Hogwarcs while the University's own Studio One. After
twisting the novel's plot points for embarking on another four-hour play,
comedic effect. Team StarKid began to feel the pres-

sure.
"Whenever you do something like
this that is a cult hit, the tiniest cult
hit that it is, you have to live up to not
only what it actually was, but what
people think that it is," Nick said.
"You remember it better than it was."
The brothers adopted tactics so
they would not fall into the conven-
tional potholes that plague sequels.
The jokes had to be completely dif-
ferent, and the story needed larger
stakes and twistier turns.
"You have to come up with some-
thing that (the viewers) are not going
to expect and that immediately
throws off their guard so they'll go,
'All right, I don't know where its
going so let's watch where it goes,' "
Nick said.
But the team wanted to live up to
the fans' expectations while provid-
ing a whole new story to celebrate the
books.
"We don't want to let down those
20,000 people," Nick said in reference
to the core fan base. "And the thing is
that those 20,000 people have been
extremely nice to us, but they could be
very mean."
The Lang brothers, as well as fellow
writer of both Potter musicals Brian
Holden (a 2008 School of Music, The-
See POTTER, Page 10

ARTS IN BRIEF
CONCERT PREVIEW
Local Natives visit A2
Local Natives
Tonight at 8 p.m.
The Blind Pig
$10
Last spring, the South by Southwest Festi-
val set the whole country abuzz with praise for
a group of young musicians who ran across the
streets of Austin with palpable fervor - instru-
ments in hand - to play back-to-back sets at sev-
eral different venues.
This band, known as Local Natives, played
nine shows in total during that festival. Luckily
for Ann Arbor, Local Natives will be bringing
their hymnal hippie harmonies to the Blind Pig
tonight.
The origin of Gorilla Manor - the acclaimed
album's tongue-in-cheek title - is solely a matter
oflivingconditions. When the bandmates moved
to the avant-garde Silver Lake neighborhood of
Los Angeles, their communal home was in a con-
stant state of tumult. In an interview with the
Daily, Natives drummer Matt Frazier deemed
the album title "a good representation of who we
are as a band."
"Chaotic, both in terms of the recording pro-

cess and living conditions," as Frazier said,
Gorilla Manor - the housing situation as well as
the album - was also "the best experience of our
lives."
From the chaos of the "Gorilla Manor," soli-
darity was born. The collaborative nature of the
Local Natives' living experience is evident in
their musical style. The drumming is frenetic
and tribal and resembles community campfire
music, while the vocals are characterized by
continuous two and three-part harmonies (sung
by lead vocalist Taylor Rice, keyboardist Kelcey
Ayer and guitarist Ryan Hahn) that lend more
weight to the profound meaning of each song.
A prime example of this holistic sound can be
heard in "Airplanes," which was written as a
tribute to Ayer's late grandfather.
The Natives' homey vibes should hold signifi-
cant appeal for prospective attendees of their
Ann Arbor show. Frazier expressed enthusiasm
about the band's ability to please the college
town crowd.
"We're extremely comfortable with the pros-
pect of playing in Ann Arbor," he said. "Every
member of the band is well past college age, and
we've learned a great deal about each other as
we've grown together, so yes, we're definitely
excited."
TIMOTHYRABB

ARTS IN BRIEF
FILM REVIEW
Too many 'Babies'
Babies
At the Michigan
Focus Features
It's hard not to love babies. Their gurgling
coos and drooling little faces are inexplica-
bly irresistible. Especially to mothers, who
dote on their red-faced spawn with unwav-
ering adoration. And "Babies" - delivered in
a timely fashion for Mother's Day - plays on
that matronly affection which the film's tar-
get demographic possesses.
The documentary follows the first year in
the lives of four infants from four corners of
the world. Ponijao lives in Namibia in a small
village with numerous siblings. Mari lives in
Japan in a cosmopolitan setting as an only
child. Bayarjargal (nicknamed "Bayar") lives
in Mongolia on a farm with his nuclear fam-
ily, and Hattie lives in California with her
Bohemian, eco-friendly parents. But while
all four infants come from extremely diverse
backgrounds, they're unified through com-
mon experiences in their first year growing

up.
The film presents its protagonists from a
baby's-eye view, while audience members,
consequently, are taken step-by-step through
the different stages of each child's life with a
limited perspective that makes viewers iden-
tify and sympathize with the babies. Adults
in this documentary are merely shadowy,
auxiliary characters. Audience members, in a
sense, become babies through the low-angle,
baby-centric view that filmmaker Thomas
Balmes takes. But unless you're an actual
baby (and if you're reading this review you
certainly aren't) the experience can get frus-
trating.
As expected, the documentary is little
more than a fluff piece, uniting different cul-
tures by painting unrealistic portrayals of
happy families through rose-colored lenses.
Struggles of abject poverty are trivialized,
minimalized or done away with completely.
While the documentary has some moments
that could make even the most cynical (and
childless) of film watchers' hearts soften, the
perpetually forced, cutesy nature of the film
is eventually cloying. So unless you're gaga
for babies, this 90-minute homage to them
can be a dear price to pay.
JASMINE ZHU

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