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December 04, 1995 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-12-04

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 4, 1995 - 9A

'Woods' succeeds

By'Erin Crowley
For the Daily
Director Mike Babel was not joking
when he called Stephen Sondheim's
into the Woods" a "tag-team wrestling
Iteh." Mostly composed of snippet
dies, pinched refrains and darting
ptrances and exits, Sondheim's musi-
"Itequires a lightning pace to spin its
mnany moments tightly together. It's a
Etu, frantic and frightening race through
the fairy-tales of our youth. And it's a
c that urges us to pause just a mo-
tEnt to reflect on the emotional and
social realities that underpin our most
fantastical wishes.
,,,This fall's MUSKET production of
tilheim's and James Lapine's tale
linaged to punch much-of the humor
Into the
n Woods
Power Center for the
Performing Arts
December 1, 1995
in the text while gently and even fero-
ciously at times compelling its audi-
ence to consider the legacies our ac-
tions and words leave behind us. If the
sometimes dragging tempo and the
somewhat crouched and stunted stag-
ing ofmany of the musical numbers left
unintended holes in the magical spell
this production cast, MUSKET still
succeeded in carefully crafting a theat-
rical journey that hit essential emo-
tional and social pitches.
Forthis story-book tale, Virginia Kim
appropriately gave us a set in which
suitably prodigious books constituted
the platforms and environs of these
characters' fairy-tale worlds. At the
opeDing of the show, they delightfully
biinbed out of these enormous books
thatmiraculouslytransformedinto their
individual homes - an artistic choice
that immediately invited the audience
to surrender itself to its collective imagi-
nation. If Kim had chosen to collabo-
tatewith lighting designer Greta Fisher
in brightening the stage space with more
titillating and sparkling colors (rather
tharrthe dull tones ofwashed-out browns
and peaches), perhaps the visual magic
that this mythological land begged
would have found a little more life.
As our beloved fairy-tale heroes,
Cinderella, Little Red Ridinghood, Jack
and the Baker and his Wife material-
ized before our eyes and vigorously
ponounced their individual wishes -
lo go to the festival, to have a child, etc.

- I couldn't help but wish that the
enactment of their stories would have
found more varied spatial expression.
They seemed too often trapped in the
cramped space between their cottages
or in the confused choreography of the
largermusical numbers. The most visu-
ally (and therefore dramatically) pow-
erful vignettes were the ones in which
the characters were able to fill the space
around them. For this reason, "No One
is Alone," the song that welds the char-
acters' lives together near the end of the
show, became the dramatic pinnacle of
this particular production as it employed
not only the characters' strong perfor-
mances, but also a beautifully realized,
balanced stage picture.
Despite some haphazard staging and
delayed light cues, the characters in this
play, the ones that always gave us such
pleasure since the moment we first found
them on the pages of our children's
books, not only delighted us in Babel's
production, but actually amplified that
delight by showing us quirks and iro-
nies in their stories and personalities
that left us simultaneously laughing and
appropriately cringing.
Catherine Marsh gave us a wonder-
fully bold Little Red Ridinghood so
flirtatiously innocent, we glowed every
time she bounced onto the stage. Chris
French's Jack struck a hysterical bal-
ance between a pathological, though
endearing, love for his only friend - a
wooden cow (of course, it's supposed
to be real) -and an fatalistic greed that
drives him to murder a giant. Both the
Baker (Gavin Creel) and his Wife (Leigh
Jonaitis) combined sarcasm, avarice and
vulnerability to build our mounting in-
terest in their whirling journey through
the other characters' stories. Add to
these performances Deborah Lifton's
lilting soprano vocals as Cinderella,
Andrew McKim's seductively sensu-
ous Wolf and Matt Schicker's roving,
smug prince charming.
Jackie Lerner (who found beautiful
moments of pathos in her vindictive
rendering of the witch) gave her final
song, "Children Will Listen," the con-
viction it needed to crystallize the mes-
sage that the entire action of the play
works to illustrate - that wishes do
come true, but only when we temper
our creative imaginations with an aware-
ness of the way our every word and
every gesture echoes in the ears of chil-
dren and affects the community around
us. MUSKET's production of "Into the
Woods" undoubtedly left us all a little
wiser and maybe even a little inclined
to pick up that Grimm fairy-tale book
when we get home for another look

"Aaaah. I have a glue leg. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. I HAVE A GLUE LEGI have four glue legs. Help. How will I walk?"

Heroic Doses
Pure Records
Just when you thought that "grunge"
thing was over, here comes Glueleg
with Heroic Doses to give it a swift kick
in the pants. Glueleg has the makings of
the next MTV sweetheart; the four-
some definitely has the look (see Hel-
met) and the sound (see Alice in Chains).
The only drawback to Glueleg is that,
sadly enough, they are from Canada,
the home of Anne Murray and Alan
Thicke. However, these guys have been
making the rounds on Canada's "alter-
native" stations, in addition to Much
Music, Canada's version of MTV, so
something has to be up.
Glueleg has quite an interesting for-
mula. They start with a crunchy, thick
guitartone reminiscent of Headbanger's
Ball, but then juxtapose it with, what
else, a sax and a couple of horns. If that
doesn't sound weird enough here's an-
other shocker; the horns and guitar
sound good together. No joke. Add a
deviant lead singer and you've got
Glueleg. The group ends up with a very
complete sound echoing such influences
as hard rock, jazz and maybe even a
dash of reggae/ska here and there. The
title track, "Heroic Doses," seems per-
fectly packaged for the buzz bin; it
includes a wicked horn ostinato, heart-
pounding guitar, and rap-inspired vo-
cals, seemingly foreshadowing the fu-
ture of pop music. Nevertheless, it is

As with any first album, Glueleg
leaves room for improvement. The
formula sounds really fresh at the be-
ginning, but it starts to drag on as the
album progresses. In particular, the per-
sistent, mechanical guitarrhythms grate
on the nerves. Additionally, the saxo-
phone parts were fairly simple and
uninvolved. However, as innovative as
Glueleg is thusfar, don't be surprised to
see them throw a curve ball on the next
Glueleg is by all means hard rock, but
it's not the hard rock that pop music has
been driving into our heads the past few
years. Glueleg adds their own ideas to
what has become a stale genre in need
of an adrenaline shot. In that sense,
Glueleg is good medicine.
- Brad Haywood
Dianne Reeves
quiet after the storm
Blue Note/Capitol Records
Starting with her first song, "Hello,
Haven't I Seen You Before," Dianne
Reeves establishes herself as a woman
who knows, feels, breathes and embod-
ies the spirit of jazz. Her voice in this
song - and throughout "quiet after the
storm" - is tantalizingly perfect. It is
just smooth enough to match her instru-
mental crew (no simple feat as this
"crew" includes such talents as George
Duke, Ron Blake and Chris Severin),
yet it has just a tinge of that lyrical
roughness that tells her audience in no
uncertain terms, "Hey you! I'm over

here. My name's Diana, but you can
call me Ms. Reeves. Don't you forget
"Hello..."andthe CD'ssecondsong,
"Comes Love," recreate the music of
orchestral jazz as represented by the
'20s Harlem nightclubs and the '90s
"Mo' Better Blues." Nevertheless, Ms.
Reeves' repertoire farextends the realm
of traditional jazz; other songs on this
LP feature both the amazing and the
unexpected. And what she offers out-
side that sphere is no less amazing than
what she presented from within.
Topping this list is Reeves' beautiful
performance of the impressively sim-
plistic Yoruba chant "Yemanja/Sargaco
Mar." "In a Sentimental Mood," writ-
ten by Duke Ellington, does an amazing
job of capturing Ms. Reeves' ability to
stay on top of even the most sensual of
jazz songs intended for the muskiest,
most smoke-filled jazz hall, and the
highly cheerful "Nine" will bring out
the nine-year-old child in us all.
The 45 second "Jive Samba," and the
four-minute long "The Benediction" it
leads into, combine an highly varied
number of musical styles including the
jazz inherent in Reeves' voice, a instru-
mental gospel rhythm as Missionary
Baptist as the country preacher she sings
about and small samples of instrumen-
tal wildness that would fit well in any
Aretha Franklin or Smokey Robinson
song. This song was recorded at a live
performance. Meanwhile, the highly
sensitive "Sing My Heart" will lift your
spirits to amazing heights. Another no-

table part of this LP is the skillful Jacky
Terrasson piano solo in "DetourAhead."
"Quiet after the storm" carries 12
songs, each averaging over five min-
utes in length. This is a marvelous re-
turn to a time in early jazz history when
singers and musicians didn't want the
song to end and the crowd they played
for didn't want them to quit ever. That
is the way you will feel the moment you
pop this gem of a release into your CD
player. One ride on the Reeves wave will
make you a staunch lover and supporter
of all that her vocal gift has to offer. Ms.
Reeves would have it no other way.
- Eugene Bowen
Quincy Jones and
Various Artists
Q's Jook Joint
Warner Bros. Records
For Quincy Jones's latest album; he
brings in a few of his friends to join him
in playing old favorites atthis "jook
joint," what he refers to as the " hirth-
place of blues."
Jones thanks a wide range of artistic
supporters - about 80 people, in his
written introduction. Many of them
appear on the album, such as: LL Cool
J, Brandy, Dizzy Gillespie, Marlon
Brando, Barry White, Queen Latifah,
Miles Davis, Gloria Estefan, Tone Loc,
Heavy D, Coolio, Phil Collins, R. Kelly,
Chaka Khan, Babyface, SWV and even
that budding singer Shaquille O'Neal.
Produced by Jones, the album takes
old classics like "Let the Good Times
Roll," written by Sam Theard affd
Fleecie Moore in 1946, and sets them
on their ear. With featured vocalists
Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Bono
of U2, talking and laughing are mixed
in with the music. Jones doesn't actu-
ally sing much of anything.
Most of the pieces feature several (as
many as four or more) artists at once,
merging their voices. Some are heaid
just chatting and hanging out. A few
artists hardly contribute a full sentence,
which is strange. It's hard to pick out
the voices of some of these famous
stars, and it's unclear why Jones asked
them to participate if all they do is say
a few words. Perhaps he felt that the
namedroppings would increase sales
- an unfortunate ploy.
Full songs are sung in a duet of Brandy
and Heavy D, and an interesting solo by
Phil Collins, the only one-man piece.
The songs Jones chose are excellent,
definitely good oldies from the 40's
and 50's. If you like this type of music,
you may well want to meet Jones and
crew at the jook joint.
- Elan A. Stavros
Please See RECORDS. Page 10


We invite all
University of Michigan Seniors
to get to know our people
and career opportunities
Tuesday, December 5, 1995
at 7:00 p.m.
F 4a
Pendleton Room
Michiaan Union

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