Review: Gender Bender Splendor

It was a fantastic night at Necto (and I didn’t even stay for the dancing part!) thanks to the Stonewall Democrats. The Gender Bender Revue took place at the famous nightclub on East Liberty St. this Friday night. And oh man, was it fantastic! Drag queens and performers galore. It was faaaannnn-tastic!

Victor and Christian, the MC’s (sorry, I can’t remember Christian’s drag name, but Victor was Queen V), made the show so funny. It really felt like a classic drag show because of these two and their stage presence. They started the show with their own number “Janet Jackson: On and Off tour” in which both played Ms. Jackson, one on tour, and the other off. Their Lip-sync was awesome. I had never seen Victor do Drag and he and Christian both had Janet to a t.

Next, one of my favorite groups on campus performed, The Compulsive Lyres! One of our fantastic a capella groups. They sang a medley of popular club songs which was perfect for the setting, as these are the songs DJ Mark plays pretty often down in the Red Room. There were some minor technical difficulties, but the Lyres picked it up and plowed through it without a second thought. Great talent, excellent performance!

After them there were two more drag queen lip-syncs, A Britney Spears song-Toxic, and a song about girls and pearl necklaces. Both were very sensual and creative expressions of gender and invaluable additions to the show.

And then…Johnny Moans… A comedian. He was incredibly funny, he really was, but I guess I prefer a different kind of comedy. He used all of the stereotypes and infamous things about Gay culture to produce comedy, and though most of it was funny, he was incredibly obnoxious and oppressive….to everyone. Plus he had this really awful mustache :).

And of course, we had to have some Lady Gaga, so another wonderful queen got on stage and played his own version of Gaga’s songs. This medley put together “Telephone,” “Poker Face,” and “Bad Romance,” in a striking interpretation of her music. It was an acoustic piece with the voice of an angel (at the least the sort of angel you’d see on LOGO’s “Nonsense Revolution”).

There were so many great acts, including a Michael Jackson interpretation, a Justin Bieber impersonator, and a group piece by the E-board of the Stonewall Dems. They hosted a raffle with prizes and Potbellies provided food during intermission. The event was great. The publicity must not have been what they expected though because the turn out was less than acceptable. The Revue had so much talent and was set up so well, plus it was only $5 for entrance to Necto for the entire night. I don’t really understand, but I guess there are a lot of things happening this weekend, so many in fact that I have to pick and choose my own events. In fact, it is a very very busy weekend. Get out there and see a show! It is one of my very favorite parts about college.

As Always,
This is Danny Fob: Artist and Art Reviewer.

Preview: What’s Your Story? Good Question

A story of an actor that lets strangers write their stories in anonymous journals and the lives that are recorded inside their pages, this play is supposed to be deep and beautiful; heart warming, wrenching, and wringing all at the same time.

This brand-new production is brought to us by students of the University of Michigan. The stories collected here and the students acting them out are all UM originals. Together they tell us about the issues around campus, including racism, companionship, body image, coming out, love, death, religion, friendship, and so much more.

I can’t wait for this Saturday (the day I’m going), and even though this weekend is really busy when it comes to art events, this was number 1 on my list and got one of the slots that were free. You should definitely come out and support Ann Arbor’s Neutral Zone, who all proceeds are being donated to. Here are the details:



What: What’s Your Story? A Play
When: March 26th and 27th @ 8:00pm, doors open at 7:30pm
Where: Pendelton Room, The Michigan Union
How Much: $5 suggested donation at the door

As always,
This is Danny Fob: Artist and Art Reviewer

Preview: The Ring of Steel (Cue Trumpets)

Clish! Clang! Clash! That’s the sound of steel weapons striking each other, but this isn’t a medieval castle or courtyard, this is the Student Theater Arts Complex this coming Saturday at 11:00 am. The Ring of Steel Action Theater and Stunt Troupe is a stage fighting group trained in the art of fighting with medieval weapons, including broadsword, rapier, quarterstaff, and hand-to-hand. This event will definitely be an exciting way to start my Saturday morning.

The Ring of Steel has performed all over Michigan and around the United States, presenting not only for high schools and college students but also in professional theaters and movies. Stunts and battles are their bread and butter and I am really looking forward to this one.

What: The Ring of Steel Action Theater and Stunt Troupe Open House
When: Saturday, March 27, 2010, 11:00am – 2:00pm
Where: Student Theater Arts Complex, 1201 Kipke Ann Arbor, MI
How much: Free!


There will also be a chance for the audience to learn some of the stunts after the show in a free lesson!

As always,
This is Danny Fob: Artist and Art Reviewer

Review: The Qui to Happiness

“Man of La Mancha” is the adventurous story of a man on the brink of madness. To outsiders he may seem insane or even out of his mind, but to Sancho and Dulcinea, he is perfectly sane, seeing the beauty in life instead of the pain. This story “Don Quixote de la Mancha,” written by Miguel de Cervantes was the first Novel ever written. Pretty impressive. “Man of La Mancha” takes this classic and turns it into a musical fit for the stage, and oh how well it is done. I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Power Center during Sunday’s matinee and, judging by the laughing and applause throughout the show, so did my companions in the audience. The student theatre group MUSKET does an excellent job performing and presenting this piece to the campus community.

I remember reading an excerpt of the novel in high school, but that only gave me the general story line of a self proclaimed knight in a time after chivalry, his battles with windmill giants and the evil enchanter, and his quest to be dubbed a true knight with his lady by his side. Incredibly funny! Especially when acted out by people on a stage. It was hard to believe that this man was actually so ridiculous as to think himself a knight, Aldonsa as his Lady Dulcinea, his servant as his Squire Sancho, and the Innkeeper as a mighty Lord of a castle. The presentation was wonderful.

The musical is written to take place in a jail in which Cervantes is being kept to await trial by the Spanish Inquisition. While waiting, he is put on trial by his jail mates. His defense is the story of his eccentric knight acted out by the prisoners themselves. This format flowed really well and the actors transitioned from reality to imagination seamlessly.

And it was so funny. Sancho provided some of the best comic relief AND he had the perfect singing voice to represent his character. You would have to hear it to understand, but it was comedic and sort of serious at the same time.

Then the show got really sad for a few minutes when Don Quixote’s nephew attempted to destroy this beautiful dream, but thankfully Dulcinea saved the dream and helped Quixote remember everything before passing away. “Don Quixote is not dead!” Dulcinea exclaims over the body of the man that had made up this identity. Cervantes’ story lives on today and imagination is key to society. Where would we be without Disney, yesteryear’s Don Quixote?

Definitely one of my top choices of the events I’ve gone to. I’ve enjoyed so many events so far this year that it becomes difficult to write that statement, but I am confident that it is a high ranking event in my arts calendar. And like I always say, get out there and see these things! They’re usually pretty cheap and provide many different times to attend. This is what makes our college experience an experience. I’ve expanded my cultural awareness, artistic involvement, and my own personal boundaries by going out to theaters and performances all year. Now it’s your turn.

As always,
This is Danny Fob: Artist and Art Reviewer

Review: Yoni Ki Breathtaking

Last night I went to the 5th annual Yoni Ki Baat multicultural monologue show. This production showcases the talent of writers around campus that send in their work AND the performers of the Yoni Ki Baat group. The show focuses on woman empowerment, sexual liberation, cultural diversity, domestic violence, fighting false stereotypes, and the spectrum of relationships. The performers were very passionate and delicate with these pieces written by our own Michigan Wolverines. My fellow poetry slammers and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at this spoken word production

First of all I would like to give a shout out to the venue, Keene Theater in East Quad. I knew that I loved East Quad with all of its radicals, liberals, and all around extreme residents, and its interesting dietary options created exclusively for a large population of wolverine vegans, but this theater topped all of these assets. It was small, kind of cute, with an open stage that gave room for interpretation and audience inclusion. It reminded me of a Shakespeare theater, or if there had been no walls it would have been like a classic civilization theater from Ancient Greece. Sure maybe it’s not Epidaurus or Hill Auditorium, but the atmosphere that it provided was homey and warm. My slammer friends and I agreed that we will definitely be having an event there in the future.

Anyway, back to the reason you’re reading this, Yoni Ki Baat. Translated from Sanskrit as “talks of the vagina,” this show was created after the success of the “Vagina Monologues” as a place for creative expression for South Asian women. These young women honor and celebrate their yonis with poems like “Ramblings of a Hypochondriac Pussy Eatin’ Virgin,” “Bathroom Breakdown,” and “U-Hauls and Other Lesbian Stereotypes.” There were over 15 deep and entertaining pieces, so I would like to focus on my favorite three and let you imagine the power and creativity of the rest.

“My White Nepali Yoni,” written by Katie Hendricks and performed by Lindsay Walker, is the deeply heart wrenching story of a young girl fighting for her own identity. Born from Dutch missionaries, she was raised in southern Asia. Her family converted to Hindu and so she was raised as any young Indian girl would be. She identifies as Nepali, she practices Hindu, but the people she calls her own reject her because of her white skin. “This is my country, but where is my identity?” absolutely beautiful, and so sad. Can you imagine being raised as an ethnic group and then being rejected by them throughout the rest of your life? Being banned from the religious and cultural rights such as the treatment of your remains after death? I can’t.

“A Letter To My Aunt Flo,” written by Kelsey Trotta and performed by Ayesha Singh, was a wonderfully comic adventure through the period cycle of a young girl. Speaking directly to her “Aunt Flo” this young poet sounds her complaints about the physical and mental instabilities that this monthly relative inflicts upon her life. Ayesha had everyone in the crowd busting up when she described memories of these visits: her mothers description that made her believe that when she finally started having them that it would be beautiful and all “rainbows and unicorns,” her discovery at age 11 that they were not a fun experience, and multiple bouts of emotional havoc throughout life that this relative was responsible for. Ladies, I know this doesn’t mean much, but I feel for you. And for all of those jerks that dare to blame “that time of the month,” I’d like to see them try it!

And finally, “I Am Here,” written by Lia Wolock and performed by Sunny Shah with a short statement from each performer. This piece embodies culture, power, and emotion in one grand finale of expression. Young Sunny presents this piece about identity and physical as well as personal presence in a world that has been known for forgetting women in history and religion. Each performer takes on the identity of a great female while Sunny explains the significance of her own role as a woman and how it relates to her audience. It was very powerful, and sort of hard to explain unless you heard it yourself, but all the same, Amazing!

This was an excellent multicultural experience that I would definitely suggest to all students and faculty members. It was a great way to spend time with friends and feel powerful words wash over you like waves erasing your own worries. And most of all, it gave me a whole new respect for the Yoni!

As always,
This is Danny Fob: Artist and Art Reviewer

p.s. Sorry for the lack of pictures on this one. None were available and I don’t own a camera 🙁

Preview: Man of La Mancha? Don Right!

That’s right, the epic (and musical) tale of Don Quixote is coming to the University of Michigan thanks to the student run musical theatre company, MUSKET. “Man of La Mancha,” the musical reproduction of Cervantes’ famous novel “Don Quixote,” is a classic and has won 5 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Together with the cast of MUSKET we’ll journey through the strange adventures of the eccentric “knight” as he battles windmill giants and travels the countryside in search of adventure.

I am personally very excited for this event and I have been hoping to attend ever since I heard about it at Gayz Craze during welcoming week (that is a really long wait), so I’m sure that it will be a brilliant show. I’m actually surprised that I managed to snatch this event with all of the other [seen]sters picking fantastic events too. I guess I just got lucky.

I’m going to the last performance, tomorrow afternoon, Sunday, March 21st at 2:00pm. A matinee to help me relax after a long weekend of work and studying (or whatever) sounds perfect. The ticket was only $7 for students ($13 for adults) and I get to go to the Power Center again, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places on campus.

It may be too late to buy your own tickets to this show, I feel for you, I really do, but this is just a reminder to seek out great events like this and experience college to its full extent. Partying can be fun, but try other things too. You never know how much fun you’ll have if you try new things, one of the reasons I have this amazing job as a [seen]ster which provides the resources that make it possible to me to experience this spectrum of art I’ve been writing about all year. Speaking of [art]seen, let me just add a small tip and inform you we’re accepting applications for next year’s [seen]sters. Apply for this amazing opportunity today and you’ll will have an amazing year next year!

Just to remind you what I will be writing about tomorrow:

What: MUSKET’s Man of La Mancha
When: Sunday, March 21st, 2:00pm
Where: Power Center for the Performing Arts
How much: $7

As always,
This is Danny Fob: Artist and Art Reviewer