6B - The Michigan Daily - WetteA 4c. - Thursday, October 19, 1995
Get 'Most' out of 'Grease' production
Ralph Malph leaves his happy days behind
By Melissa Rose Bernardo
Daily Theater Editor
Top 10 things you didn't know about
Don Most (a.k.a. Ralph Malph from
10. He's from Brooklyn.
9. He's seen "The Jolson Story" an
estimated 50 times.
8. He was co-captain of his high
school swim team.
7. He entered Lehigh University as
an engineeringmajor, and laterswitched
6. He originally screen tested for the
role of"Potsie" on "Happy Days."
5. The character of Ralph Malph was
actually created for Most.
4. Last fall he had a guest-starring
role on "Baywatch."
3. His feature film credits include
2. He's performed in a vaudeville act
in The Catskills.
1. He's starring in the touring pro-
duction of "Grease!" at the Fox Theater
That's right, hep cats. Slip into those
bobby socks and grease back your coif
but don't sneak a ciggie butt in the
theater, please. The touring production
of the "official" Broadway revival is
hully-gullying its way into Detroit, and
all the cool cats are gonna be there: The
T-birds (Danny Zuko, Kenickie, Sonny,
Roger, Doody), the Pink Ladies (Rizzo,
Marty, Jan, Frenchie), and good-girl
So where exactly does "Happy Days"
alum Don Most fit in, you may ask? No,
he's not playing the ultra-cool Danny;
that privilege is reserved for "TJ
Hooker" alum Adrian Zmed, no stranger
to cool cars and leather jackets thanks
to his role in "Grease 2."
Most has the smaller role of DJ
Vince Fontaine, a part once played on
tour by ex-Monkee Davy Jones.
Fontaine actually plays a pretty vital
role in this revival, from leading a
pre-show dance contest to doo-
wopping in the burger palace in the
final scene. And who knows the era
better than Most, after spending seven
seasons up to his letterman sweater in
cherry cokes on "Happy Days," TV's
ultimate tribute to the '50s.
But don't fool yourself into thinking
that Most's acting abilities are confined
to a single decade. Even as a 20-year-
old on TV's most popular sitcom, Most
had ambitions beyond soda shops and
sock hops. "I had a lot of other things
that I wanted to do as an actor," said
Most in a recent phone interview.
After the success of "Happy Days,"
TV offers were rolling in, but Most
wanted to go beyond the small screen.
"Back then it was a lot harder for people
on television - especially sitcoms -
to cross over into movies. There's more
of a bridge that formed in these days,"
he said, explaining his lack of film
prospects back then.
That turned him to theater, produc-
tions like "Barefoot in the Park" with
Maureen Sullivan and a short tour of
"Damn Yankees" with Dick Van Dyke
in the early '80s. Most's experience
with musicals also includes the West
Coast premiere of the Gershwin musi-
cal "Strike Up the Band" with fellow
"Happy Days" star - and current
"Beauty and the Beast" cast member-
Since then, directing projects-plays
like "Doubles" and "In the Moonlight
Eddie" in the L.A. area - have proved
most fruitful for him. "That led to me
working with different people and de-
veloping projects for film. I'm very
close, it appears, to getting a chance to
direct my first movie, a small indepen-
dent movie," he said with anticipation.
But "Grease!" is not the only acting
offer that has come Most's way in the
past few years. He recently completed
work on a CBS movie called
"Deadman's Island" (to be aired this
fall) and a role in the feature film "Hour-
glass," which marks C. Thomas
Howell's directing debut. And last fall
he joined the elite group of actors who
have guest-starred on "Baywatch."
Most has been with the tour of
"Grease!" since August 8, and plans to
leave shortly after the Detroit stint. His
enthusiasm for the show, however, will
"I wound up watching it (in New
York), to start getting ready for the
role -eight, nine, 10 performances,"
he said of his encounter with the cur-
rent production. "Every night I was
watching it and I was having just as
much fun with it at the end of the
week than I was at the beginning. It's
that kind of a show. It has a really
"Infectious" only scratches the sur-
face of the feel of this "Grease!," and
Most's role is integral to that feeling.
He'll be dancing in the aisles as Vince
Fontaine, a role pretty similar on many
levels to his "Happy Days" persona.
"(Fontaine) is a character where the
energy level is up there with Ralph,"
Most acknowledged. "He's way upthere
- he's gotta be. He's the DJ; that's his
job, to jet-propel everybody into the
next song or the next dance or what-
And though audiences most fondly
remember him cutting loose as the co-
medic Ralph - and "Grease!" audi-
ences will see the same comic actor -
Most claims dramatic roles are actually
his forte. "I really was pursuing dra-
matic roles when I first went out to LA.
I always felt like, yeah, I could do
comedy if Iliked the script or if it's
right, and I think that's still the case. I
can do it if I like the material and it's
appropriate or whatever; the irony is
that I probably feel more comfortable
doing dramatic work," he said with a
But don't look for Most to be stuck
in the doo-wop decade forever; he's
keeping his options wide open. "Right
now I'm hoping this movie happens
for me to direct. I'm hoping to con-
tinue my acting, love to do Broadway,
love to do more movies. I'm sort of
open to seeing wherever it goes now,
letting the winds blow me where
they're gonna go."
For now, he's at the high school
hop, and you'll kick yourself in that
shakin' tailfeather if you miss this
happenin' time. Be there or be, well,
you know ...
New York punk revivalists D Generation will be kickin' out the jams at an all ages show Saturday night with The Dickles,
Trash Brats and Minoride in the Shelter in Detroit. With their spiked hair, black leather and rebellious attitude, D
Generation will thrill you with their all-out assault of sight and sound. The band will be performing material from their first
album, and new stuff from their forthcoming release due out early next year. They're set to hit the studio next month, so
here's your chance to hear D Gen play new songs in public for the first time. With heavy influences from The Ramones, The
New York Dolls and the Stooges, their hard driving punk rock will have you boogying in your boots. Doors open at 8 p.m.,
and for mo' info, call St. Andrew's at 313-961-MELT or Ticketbastard at (810) 645-6666.
. . . '.
They're mean ... they're ugly ... and
they'll rip your heart out, throw it on
the floor, stomp on It, spit on it, and
stomp on it s'more! They're the
Lunachicks! They'll be playing an all
ages show with Rancid and the Skolars
'r at the State Theatre in Detroit on
Sunday. Just look at 'em ... could you
say no to faces like those and lyrics
like these: "Bleeding heart / Not even'
worth a fart / Got the worst halitosis
that I've smelled / You can just go to
hell," from their song "F.D.S. (Shit
Finger Dick)" off their latest album
"Jerk Of All Trades." With other punk
thrillers like "Buttplug," and "Fallopian;
Rhapsody," the Lunachicks will have -
you on your knees begging for more..
Tickets are $10, doors open at 6:30.
p.m. and showtime Is 7:30 p.m. To
purchase tickets, call (810) 645.6666.
Poetry Festival taps Ann Arbor's creative energy
By Dean Bakopoulos
Daily Books Editor
Poetry comes in many voices. It comes
in the cool,hollow strains in the afternoon
of a life of terror and redemption. It spins
in the angry souls that have slipped be-
tween the cracks of life. Poetry drips
sweet with recollection, shakes with hope-
less laughter, hums in hallowed tunes and
resounds with desperation. These are the
many voices of poetry, and they echoed
with a sweet brilliance at the second-
annual Ann Arbor Poetry Festival.
Ann Ar bor
Lydia Mendelssohn Theater
Monday October 16, 1995
The diverse voices that drew a full
house to the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater
on Monday night were so rich in variety
that the night really did seem to take on a
feeling of magic. Poetry Festival produc-
ers Michael Tincher, Mara Benjamin and
Todd Spencer deserve kudos forbringing
together a blend of poets whose vast
differences served only in highlighting
the many brilliant ways in which words
can enrich our lives.
The evening began with a bellowing,
bluesy song-poem by festival emcee,
Larry Francis. Kicking off the readings
by eight area poets was Shaman Drum's
poet-in-residence Keith Taylor, whose
narrativepoetry wavered between warmly
reflective and highly amusing. His final,
and maybe hisbest,poem, entitled"Guilty
at the Rapture," humorously took the
audience into the mind of a young boy
who believes the rapture has come and
left him behind.
The mood shifted when Ron Allen, a
cook at downtown Detroit's Cass Cafe,
took the stage. Severe, rhythmic and
upfront, Allen'spoetry harshlydenounced
everything from the loss of individuality
to the mind-numbing world oftelevision,
his "greatest nemesis." His tribute to the
rap group Public Enemy was both stun-
ning and haunting with the lines, "I've
come to kill you with blackness." And it
was extremely fitting that on the day of
"The Million Man March," Allen read a
poem that seemed to be a message to his
fellow African-American males: "What
you gonna do, man?"
Local favorite Ken Cormier followed
Allen with his dramatically different po-
etry-songs. Cormier's work is hysteri-
cally funny, especially given his highly-
animated way of performing. But even
Cormier's quirkiest works were filled
with complex portrayals of the feelings of
human isolation and inexplicable frustra-
tion. His story "Tragic Magic Havris",
while performed with perfect hilarity,
actually is disturbing in its depiction of
desperation, closing with two quirky
"I needed a change."
Jan Worth, a poet from U-M Flint,
followed Cormier with lushly descriptive
poetry that dances on softer sentimental
subjects. But sometimes Worth's decep-
tive simplicity is full of subtle punches of
the confusion and regret. Her poem "The
Swinging Girl"is aguffaw-inducing look
at the mythical girl who swung too high
on the playground swings and suffered a
horrible and unknown fate.
When Decky Alexander, a performing
arts instructor at U-M, took the stage, her
radiance seemed to fill the theater. Per-
forming an original mix of drama and
poetry, with nothing more than two chairs
as props, Alexander was able to recreate
scenes that were so vivid it was like
watching a short story come to life. De-
spite the simple stage, Alexander's per-
formance, perhaps the funniest and most
energetic of the night, created scenes that
took on intense vividness.
Brenda Cardenas, and her "band"-
David Allen, Jeffery Rangel, and Jason
Elias - were perhaps the most original
performers of the night. Setting deeply
personal and lyrical poems to music
and voice accompaniments, Cardenas
filled the theater with energy andrhythm
as she performed "The History Beneath
Our Skin" and "Hay Una Mujer," works
which explored her Latina heritage and
the common threads of womanhood.
Popular Residential College Professor
Ken Mikolowski then delighted the audi-
ence with a sort of stand-up poetry rou-
tine. Expertly and comfortably delivered,
Mikolowski rattled off a series of what
can best be described as poetic "zingers."
Keeping with his bizarre and puzzling
sense ofhumor, Mikolowski looked dead
at the audence and solemnly read short
poems like: "Three little words: You are
very drunk." His knack for word-play
and nailing the audience with an unex-
pected bite made his performance a sheer
delight. On a more serious note,
Mikolowski also read some stirring so-
cial comment poetry, so dead-on that one
felt like gasping after each poem was
Closing the night on a magical note
was the responsibility of Trinidad na-
tive and Eastern Michigan professor
Brenda Flanagan. Her blend of poetry,
song and Caribbean influences was sim-
ply masterful. Theevening's finalpoem,
"When You Die" enveloped the audi-
ence with chest-tearing bluntness. The
poem was simply haunting, and ended
with her calling out a somber Calypso
drone, "When I dead, bury my clothes,"
in a moving look at the fleetingness of
human life. The poem was the perfect
way to end the evening: Full of the
magic, the emotion, the rawness and
the hint ofdivinity that makes the poet's
labor an invaluable natural resource.
And we're lucky to have so much of it
here in Ann Arbor.
Decky Alexander performs expressive
pieces. What'cha gonna do about it?
Okay, so R.E.M. has undergone some changes since this photo was snapped
for "Automatic for the People." They released their latest record "Monster," a
subversively brilliant, Intelligent, trashy, rumbling masterpiece. They've gone.
"Unplugged" (before It came cliched). They've attempted to tour the globe.
They've visited the emergency departments of hospitals worldwide. Singer
Michael Stipe (center, of course) has Bic-ed his head. Bassist Mike Mills (far
left) has begun morphing into Elvis. Drummer Bill Berry (far right) had a near
fatal aneurysm. But guitarist Peter Buck (second from left) still hasn't
changed his facial expressionr and essentially the former college-rock heroes
from Athens, Ga. have remained comfortably poised somewhere between '
stardom and selling out.
Buck, Berry, Mills and Stipe return to Michigan for the third time this year when
R.E.M. plays Crisier Arena Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. Expect to hear material from
"Monster" peppered with a few new songs like "Revolution" and "Departure." No
way In hell will Stipe agree to do "Shiny Happy People," but the band has rotated
favorites from "Out of Time" (DO NOT shake your booty during "Losing My
Religion") and "Automatic for the People" with a few older tunes from "Life's Rich
Pageant" and "Fables of the Reconstruction."
Los Angeles-based Grant Lee Buffalo opens with songs from last year's epic
"Mighty Joe Moon" and their Slash debut "Fuzzy." Lead singer Grant Lee Phillips
will amaze with his echoey, earthy vocals and story-like lyrics (if that doesn't
amaze you, these guys have been touring with R.E.M. through their string of
mishaps... and they're still alive).
So enjoy Stipe's androgenous sensuality. Dig Mills' rhinestone-studded Nudie
suits. See if Buck ever alters the look on his face. Witness one of the truly great
rock bands of our time fill an entire arena with college kids who grew up
worshipping them. Sing along, all you shiny happy kids.
Tickets are still available for the Sunday night show. Call Ticketmaster at (810):
Jackson Social Welfare Fund
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Ann Arbor
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