5t. Andrea's,the weekend and you
St. Andrew's Hall has two cool shows this weekend. Saturday night It's
My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult; doors are at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, it's
Echobelly and Electrafixion; doors are at 7 p.m. Call (313) 961-MELT
for more information.
Get the Urge for a great rock show
Oberon chastises Puck in a scene from "A Midsummer Night's Dream," playing this weekend at the Power Center.
An existential 'Midsur
By Melissa Rose Bernardo
Daily Theater Editor
Stephen Sondheim said it: You've
gotta have a gimmick if you want to get
a hand. The School of Music Opera
Theater has been following that advice
for years, and this weekend's produc-
tionof "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
is no exception.
When: Tonight and Saturday
at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $16-$12 ($6 students).
Note: The leads in this production
The bulk of the Britten-Peter Pears
libretto is, in fact, lifted directly from
the play's text. The score is tailored
appropriately to each of the subplots:
The lovers' songs are the most lush and
serene; the fairies' music is appropri-
ately sparse and ethereal (the role of
Oberon is written for a countertenor, a
high male voice rarely heard in opera);
the Rustics' tunes are the most simple,
lacking in virtually any ornamentation.
But the nature of this comedy of
mistaken identities puts the emphasis
on the lyrics - which often go unheard
- and Brtten's music does not go far
enough in portraying the story.
Warner compensates with staging and
concept. His dark, visceral and com-
plex vision is a great challenge for the
performers. They are required to do
much more than the requisite posing
and singing: they must ride bicycles,
scale walls, climb ladders, crawl on the
floor - in short, they must use their
bodies asmuch as theirvoices to tell the
story. This task is too onerous for some
- most notably the lovers, minus Hel-
ena (S. Piper Gomez as Lysander,
Guilherme Rogano as Demetrius and
Jessica Flint as Hermia) - but most
have responded admirably.
The set design, which Warner also
provided, capitalizes on the existential
possibilities of Shakespeare's forest set-
ting. A mobile six-door unit sometimes
proves almost as obtrusive as it does
useful, though the stripped-down quality
yields some highly inventive staging.
Warner cashes in on almost every
comic possibility offered by
Shakespeare's plot, placing lovers in
Twister-like knots and stuffing the
shorts of Bottom after his transforma-
tion into an ass. The scenes with the
Rustics - especially their production
of the Pyramus and Thisbe playlet -
reveal pure comic genius. Who would
have ever conceived of an epilogue
danced with swords?
Rob Murphy'slighting fillsthespace
quite nicely; Nephelie Andonyadis'
costumes are a fascinating conglom-
eration of lame, tattoos, crushed velvet
Performances range from passable to
exceptional, most hovering somewhere
in between. All are fine singers, though
no one outstanding. The best perfor-
mances actually come from the sup-
porting roles. William Gustafson has a
ball as Bottom, the weaver-turned-
stagehog-turned-ass; Ryan Waite works
it as Flute/Thisbe. Hovering over it all
(often' literally) is a wonderfully
sprightly Michael Ryan as Puck, that
"merry wanderer of the night."
Last evening's production took a
while to gather momentum, and lost a
substantial portion of its audience as a
result. But this "Midsummer" could be
a'product of any one of our own minds
-erratic, audacious, kaleidoscopic and
cabalistic. Warner's imagination would
be a terrible thing to waste.
By Heather Phares
Daily Arts Editor
"I've done so many interviews, I don't
know what to even fucking say any-
more," moaned Urge Overkill's Eddie
"King" Roeser, apologizing for a less-
than-spectacular 20-minute phone con-
versation that's one of many in a never-
ending press junket. Camped out in his
hotel room, watching a tennis match on
TV to kill the boredom of answering the
same old questions, King Roeser is tired.
And when the King's tired, he's cranky.
When askedifheenjoystouring, Roeser
said curtly, "I'm definitely not miser-
able," adding, "People who complain
about touring just shouldn't play music.
If I didn't like touring, I wouldn't be
doing it. I'd be an accountant."
It's clear that Roeser doesn't suffer
fools or disappointment gladly. Guided
by Voices, currently Roeser's favorite
band, was supposed to support Urge on
this tour but had to pull out - a fact that
he's shed few tears over: "I don't think
they quite knew what they were getting
into in terms of this kind of tour. Our
approach is hard-core, we feel that we
must go out and do this. Those guys are
crusaders, but not to the degree that we
are. A great band, nonetheless," Roeser
added a bit more kindly.
The same thing could be said of Urge
Overkill -they're a great band. "Exit the
Dragon," their latest album, is the just the
most current example of their blend of
classic rock, pop and punk.
After their success with "Saturation,"
(the album stayed in the charts for most of
'93 and a good part of '94) which in-
cluded a massive world tour, the group
turned right around and headed back to
the studio to record what was to become
"Exit the Dragon." "The whole album
was done within ayear. You can tell when
you listen to the album. It's pretty sponta-
neous," Roeser said.
Not only is "Dragon"a looser, rougher
work than anything Urge Overkill has
made in years, it makes a personal state-
had to sort of stick to our guns and say,
'This is the album we wantto make now,'
and not the album other people wanted us
to make, which is 'Saturation 2.'
"'Saturation' was the first album we
made on a major label, and we wanted it
to sound that way as a reaction to that fact.
But actually, we are a band that has made
five albums and itis to be understood that
we'vemade five albums,"he stated firmly.
But out of Urge's five albums, "Exit
the Dragon" is their darkestyet. While the
album's material is tightly written rock,
songs like "This is Nowhere," "The
Break" and "Digital Black Epilogue" ei-
ther hint at or explicitly deal with death,
depression and drugs. Quite a change
from "Saturation," with its songs about
TV shows like "All My Children" and
"Beverly Hills 90210," and innuendo-
laden tunes like "Bottle of Fur" and
Roeser is hesitant to reveal any deeper
meanings behind the mood on "Exit the
Dragon." "It was winter, we were staying
in a depressing hotel, y'know,just dumb
things like that affect how your shit goes
down, you know what I mean?"he sighed,
with some exasperation.
He continued, "On the other records
there might be a higher ratio of light-
hearted songs. It just happened that we
more possible tracks for this record than
we've ever had before, something around
20 - and the ones we liked happened to
be the darker ones."
Roeser seems to be indifferent to the
amount of success that "Saturation" and
the inclusion of their cover of Neil
Diamond's "Girl, You'll Be a Woman
Soon" on the "Pulp Fiction" soundtrack
have brought to his band.
The push behind "Exit the Dragon"
seems smaller; the album stayed in the
charts just one week, and a video for the
current single "The Break" was released
nearly amonth and ahalfafterthe album's
debut. The very release date was nebu-
lous, originally scheduled for early Au-
gust but finally confirmed for late Sep-
tember-well after the reviews of"Exit
the Dragon" ran in Spin and Rolling
"To us, it's never been our goal to be
commercially successful," Roeser said.
"We've pretended that we want to be
commercially successful. We never ex-
pected anyone to understand our band on
a universal level, I think it's more com-
plex than that.We've talked to lots of
different people who like this band forall
different reasons, and none of them are
wrong. This is what the modern world is
like. No one understands what's going
on, and there's no purpose or meaning
behind anything. People who don't un-
derstand this arejust living in the past, or
Deep thoughts from a group that's
memorable in part for wearing crushed-
velvet smoking jackets, matching suits
and dinner plate-size UO medallions.
Though the group has moved on from
that era, it's Urge Overkill's blessing and
curse to be recognized as suave, stylish
gents that are all style and no substance.
This Urge persona is something that
Roeser's both proud of and frustrated by:
"It's not something we really try tomain-
tain. It's something that weplayed around
with for a while and then everyone was
like, 'These guys are this.' It was a very
ambivalent thing from us in the first place.
Wejust attempt to focus on something that
has a made-up identity and is what it is.
And people think we're like this but what
we're actually doing is playing with this
From Roeser's point of view, Urge
Overkill's substance is its style, a com-
mentary on rock 'n' roll and the way
people perceive it: "We see this as an art
form, not a form ofentertainment,"Roeset
stated. He sighed, then continued, "What
we do is entertain, I guess. But for us, itha
resonance about cultural realities of ou
time, and the realities of the media; and th<
ways that people get fucked with througl
Which, of course, includes the musi
business. Urge Overkill is into its secon
decade, enough time to qualify Roeser a
a veteran of its ups and downs: "It's kin
of scary, the power that some radio sty
tions and MTV have. I think it's aimed E
people who are too young to realize the
there's other options, but on the othe
hand, when we started out it was difficu
to say 'I want to make a single' and tohav
it distributed to lots ofstores andrearha k
ofpeople. I think that's pretty positive. It'
becoming less of an art form and more c
a business, but there's more options. It'
expanded both ways; it's worse and it'
better," he commented.
On a lighternote, Roeser remainstive ti
the music that he loves, which includes "
groove that everybody can identify with
that's communal. Blues, funk, soul. 'n
definitely anti- ' Iam intense, these are m,
with a dry laugh.
After enduring the interview, Roese
perked up when he realized that he wa:
talking to a paper from the Detroit area
describing the city as "a more fucked-u.
Chicago. But I've always had a good timc
there; it's always symbolized to me a real
music-kind ofcity.You can feel that when.
you go there," he added with real affection
in his voice. Just try and get some rest
before you come here, King.
Guest director Keith Warner has
delved deep into the psyche of this
"Midsummer," and unearthed a daring
and visually stimulating, if slightly in-
Benjamin Britten's opera proves a
faithful adaptation of what is arguably
Shakespeare's most famous comedy,
from the frolicking of the lovers in the
woods (Demetrius and Helena,
Lysander and Hermia) to the antics of
the fairy kingdom (Oberon and Titania)
and the bumbles of the rustics, a fourth-
rate acting troupe.
- -- --U
Edited by Eric Weisbard with Craig Marks
The ESSENTIAL guide to
the greatest artists and albums
That triumverate of cool, Urge Overkill, frittering away their time.
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