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September 13, 1995 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-13

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Fire! Fire! Fire!
It's 'City on Fire.' Quentin Tarantino's accused of copying this movie's plot
for his film 'Reservoir Dogs.' 'City on Fire' pertains to an undercover cop
that discovers more loyalty with the gang he's infiltrating than with the law..
Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Decide for yourself. The film
plays the Michigan Theater tonight at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students;
call 668-8397 for more information.

Page 9
Wednesday,
September 13, 1995

West Side Story' true to tmdition
Fisher Theater production hearkens back to original

By Melissa Rose Bemardo
Daily Theater Editor
A production of "West Side
Story" today is more than your av-
erage musical theater production:
it's a salute to the history of the
American musical. The Broadway-
bound national tour--just launched
at Detroit's Fisher Theater - is a
welcome reproduction of the origi-
nal, and a fine testament to the great-
ness of the piece.
At the time of its premiere, "West
Side" wasn't given its due outside
the theater community. Critics and
audiences were suitably impressed
with the Romeo-and-Juliet retell-
ing - reviews were entirely posi-
tive - allowing a run of 732 per-
formances, followed by an equally
successful national tour. But it took
a film to permanently seal "West
Side"'s fame.
The 1961 film (starring Natalie
Wood and Richard Beymer but not
their singing voices) garnered 11
Academy Awards, including Best
Picture and two for Jerome Robbins,
one for co-direction and a special
Oscar for re-creating his choreog-
raphy. Compare that to two 1958
Tony Awards for choreography
(Robbins) and scenic design (Oliver

Smith). (Meredith Wilson's "The
Music Man" swept most of that
season's major awards.) Ever since,
the combination of Robbins's cho-
reography, Leonard Bernstein's
score, Stephen Sondheim's lyrics
and Arthur Laurents's libretto has
served as instructional tool, model
and altar of worship.
"West Side" was a landmark
achievement in structure and ex-
ecution. In Robbins, Bernstein,
West Side
Story
FAiher Theater
Now through September 24
Tickets: $25-$60 at Ticketmaster, (810)
645-6666. Cal (313) 872-1000 for info.
Sondheim and Laurents, it boasted
a rare blend of talent that is rarely
achieved in the modern musical. It
was also the first musical to use
dance as narrative and character
development, utilizing main char-
acters as well as chorus in the dance
sequences. And the chorus in "West
Side" isn't made up of faceless hoof-
ers or nameless songbirds: each boy/
girl has a character name, an iden-
tity, a history, a "side." Music, story
and dance are completely insepa-
rable, thanks in large part to
Robbins's dual role as choreogra-
pher and director.
Robbins's explosive dances made
the biggest splash, though. And
while turning two rival gangs into
companies of ballet dancers may
seem unorthodox, the visual effect
is positively stunning: the dancing
doesn't soften the unpleasant
themes, but rather serves to under-
score, shape and illuminate.
Unlike Herald-Tribune critic
Walter Kerr said of the show, the
dancing isn't it. He cautioned view-
ers to look for neither laughter*nor
tears, but Bernstein's score and

Laurents's libretto cannot help but
evoke both reactions, especially the
latter. Tears of sadness, of joy, of
anger, of sympathy flow freely
throughout the show, from the open-
ing strains of "Maria" to the tragic
final reprise of "Somewhere." A
greater range of emotions in a mu-
sical cannot be found.
There's no question "West Side"
was ahead of its time. Many liken it
to the Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart
masterpiece "Pal Joey," which
didn't gain acclaim until 12 years
after its premiere, in a 1952 Broad-
way revival. Today it stands along
"West Side" as a dynamic force in
the development of the modern
Broadway musical.
And like other landmark produc-
tions such as "Hello, Dolly!,"
there's really only one way to do it,
and that's Jerome Robbins's way.
(A production of "Dolly!" done any
way but Gower Champion's just
wouldn't be the same: consider the
current 30th anniversary Broadway
production, starring Carol
Channing, faithfully reproduced by
the original Cornelius, Lee Roy
Reams.) Recreating Robbins's di-
rection and choreography here is
Alan Johnson. Robbins's electric
choreography remains in tact, and
nearly 30 years later is as savage
and vibrant as ever.
Unfortunately, Johnson's direc-
tion falls a little short of the mark.
He favors the straight-to-the-audi-
ence style, and forces Tony (H.E.
Greer) and Maria (Marcy Harriell)
into many stilted poses, especially
during ballads.
Fortunately, Greer and Harriell
are smart performers, and do their
darndest to break out of those con-
straints. Both have performed the
roles before (as have many of the
company members), and they have
a remarkable chemistry and strong
characterizations. If Greer looks,
acts and sounds a little mature for
Tony, it is forgivable. (He did just
come from playing Chris in "Miss

H.E. Greer plays Tony, a star-crossed, singing lover. And what a fox.

Saigon.") His "Maria" and "To-
night" are beautiful; and though his
singing is stronger in his solos, his
acting is more solid opposite
Harriell. Harriell turns in an abso-
lutely gorgeous performance all
around; what's more, she looks and

acts her age and she doesn't wimp
out in Maria's intense moments.
Natascia A. Diaz wrings all the emo-
tion she can out of Anita; her
"America" is one of the evening's
highlights.
The ensemble is quite strong,

dances well, and looks like the teen-
agers (or adults) they are supposed
to be. Also look for some lovely
lighting by Natasha Katz. This pro-
duction will show you the "West
Side" that once was, and the "West
Side" that always should be.

-r r r

Michael Jackson
HISot.y
Epic Records
Maybe it was thejungle fever, which
made him marry Lisa Marie, or the
jungle malaria, which made him want
to look like her. Maybe it was the
chimp. Whatever caused it, one thing
is true. My boy, Michael, has lost his
mind. I mean, even (the man formerly
known as) Prince must be saying,
"Mike's lost his damn mind." In fact,
Mike's losthis mindall over"HIStory,"
a 2-CD compilation of 30 Michael
Jackson songs, past and very mutated
present.
And I love it.
Golden oldies like "The Way You
Mke Me Feel," "Don't Stop 'Til You
Get Enough" and, of course, "Bad"
and "Thriller" jam pack "HIStory"'s
first CD. His older stuff is still da
bomb.
"History"'s second CD is the
Mike's-lost-his-mind one. "Scream,"
Jackson's first ever duet with baby

sister Penny. (Oops, I mean Janet.)
Michael curses on this song; I found
myself rewinding that part over and
over again, just to hear that magic
word. Not only that, Jackson also has
rappers on "History." Notorious
B.I.G. and Shaquille O'Neal (Mike
was really crazy to let his wack ass on
this compilation.) are featuredin songs
on CD number two. He even offended
people (Jews) in one song, but he's
apologized and changed its lyrics.
A relaxing change from this mostly
pop/hip-hop album can be found both
in the "old school" ("Man in the Mir-
ror" and "Free Willy" theme song,
"Heal the World") and the "newer
school" ("Free Willy 2" theme song,
"Childhood").
"HIStory" does an outstanding job
of tracking the course of Michael
Jackson's career from the fro to the
Jehri curl to the whatever-he's-done
now. If you're one of the three people
on this planet who hasn't already
bought this box-set, buy it.
- Eugene Bowen

E-40
In a Major Way
Jive Records
I never imagined that a hugely popu-
larrap CD would everbeproducedby an
African-American version of that
speedy-lipped MicroMachines guy, but
one was. E-40, who can talk a mile a
minute literally, dropped hid debut single
"Sprinkle Me" (featuring Suga T), and
his fame was immediately secured. His
enormous, I6-cutLP,"InaMajorWay,"
is true to its name. E-40, whether he
knows it or not, has sparked a mini-
revolution within the rap commtunity
whose effects will probably be as far
reaching as rap music itself.
One listen to E-40, and you'll know
that you're not listening to your "stereo-
typical" rapper. E-40 doesn't "rap" in
the traditional meaning of the word;
rather, he talks in such way that distin-
guishes him from both an ordinary rap-
per and an ordinary person talking on
the street."Dusted 'n' Disgusted" shows
just how original E-40's style is. Work-

ing his game with 2Pac, Spice 1 and Mac
Mall, E-40 proves that he can hang with
the big boyz. He does the same in "I-
Luv+," a rapping duet with Leviti. Fur-
ther,"In aMajor Way" doesn't rely solely
on E-40's ingenious lyrics and unique
sound to carry it. Rather, each song fea-
tures a well-crafted set ofbeats and music

effects to further heighten E-40's effect.
E-40 has greatly liberalized the unspoken
but highly-observed requirements of rap.
Looking like a young Scarface, E-40 may
take alittlegettingusedto, and the humorous-
ness of hearing almost high-pitched lyrics
being spoken from E-40's rotund frame may
further divert you from the sweetness of this

package. Yet, when it's all over, I think you
will come to appreciate the whole new bag
of potential rap arts and styles E-40 has
opened.Hehaspavedtheroadforfuitherrap
creation and exploration. Finally, someone
is.
-Eugene Bowen
See RECORDS, page 16

1996-1997 competition for the
]F'u1 w ft and Raad Gra t
fam' G xaduate tudy and eseax'ch Abxr nd
The competition is open to U.S. students at all graduate levels and to seniors who will have graduated by
the time the award is to be utilized. In order to be considered, students need not have international
experience. Further, recent graduates and graduating seniors are NOT at a disadvantage.
An information session will be held on Monday, 18 September from 7:00PM until
9:00PM. The campus deadline for applications and materials is 22 September 1995. Applications are
available from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday at the International Institute (340 Lorch Hall)
and also at the information session.
Questions should be directed to the Fulbright Program Advisor:
Kate Zawodni University of Michigan
International Institute Phone: 313.763.9200
340 Lorch Hall /611 Tappan Street Fax: 313.763.9154
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220 Email: katez@umich.edu

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