PREVIEW: Campus Symphony Orchestra & Philharmonia Orchestra

Tonight at eight o’clock in Hill Auditorium our very own Campus Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestras will present a night of great music. The program includes Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 2, Bizet’s Carmen Suite No. 1, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5.

I have been to many musical performances by our own School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, but in every instance I see the house woefully empty. We are lucky to attend a university whose music school is as good as ours. What is more, nearly all of the concerts are free! How often does one get opportunities to hear great classical music live, and for free? I encourage anyone who might not normally attend this kind of event to do so. You will not regret it.

What: Campus Symphony Orchestra & Philharmonia Orchestra

When: Tonight, 8 PM

Where: Hill Auditorium

Why: Why not?

Cost: FREE.

See you there.

Review: Battle of the Bands

Friday November 16th the Pendleton room in the Student Union turned into a stage for 5 Michigan Bands:

Through out the night there were 150 or so students who wandered in and out of this event, held by New Beat Happening. People seemed to enjoy the performances and were involved in the voting process, choosing the winner of this year’s Battle of the Bands.
I unfortunately missed the first two bands but I heard very good things.

Moon Roots

Popliteal Fossa

has a sound similar to Radiohead, which is hard to pull off. Atherial vocals, lovely and creative guitar melodies etc. Unfortunately something odd was happening with the microphones and the vocalist’s higher notes were garbled. They were the winners of the Battle and will either be opening for New Beat Happening’s headliner in the winter semester or will have their own show sponsored by NBH.

Joanah Baseball
mixes music, samplings etc. He is a University student and fun to dance to. However, he does need to work on some of his song transitions. Poor transitions can be the downfall of any DJ.

The last band Super Collider
consists of 3 guy’s on guitar, bass and drums. They are very good and were later the favorite to win the Battle (votes over road this enthusiasm) Their music is psudo sca. No vocals but excellent skill with instrumentals, which can make or break a band. Check them out, they really are excellent!

Keep your eyes peeled for more NBH concerts and events, as well as concerts sponsored by EQMC and WCBN! Especially if you like good music, these people really know what they are talking about.

REVIEW: MUSKET’s Hairspray

Musket presents Hairspray
Musket presents Hairspray

Sunday afternoon, I had the privilege of seeing Hairspray put on by the wonderful cast and crew of MUSKET, an entirely student-run organization on campus devoted to musical theatre performance. It was spectacular! From the moment the brilliantly yellow curtain lifted above the stage, those drum beats playing that familiar rhythm, Tracy Turnblad tromped onto stage in all her sassy glory crying, “Good morning, Baltimore!” It was fantastic.

Everyone was so marvelously well cast. Tracy, played by rising-star sophomore Hillary Ginsberg, was magnificent. She played the role with enough sympathy and sang the notes with so much purity, the audience was greatly moved. Other highlights included Kaci Friss, playing the role of Penny Lou Pingleton, Tracy’s beloved and quirky best friend. Her awkward demeanor yet startling vocals were perfect for the role. Link Larkin, played by Mackenzie Or, sophomore BFA Musical Theatre student, winked and flashed the audience with his shnazzy style. He had many a girl slumped in her seat, swooning over his gorgeous pipes. And of course, Motor Mouth Maybelle was positively stellar, played by junior BFA Acting Performance major Melissa Golliday. Her performance of “I know where I’ve been” brought many audience members to tears.

It was interesting to discuss this performance with a friend of mine who’d seen in Friday evening. She said that she loved the production, of course, and the talent was incredible; however, she was struck by the plot. As she saw it, it was just another example of the white girl saving the day because she saw the black kids of the neighborhood “cool.” I thought she had a fair point and I admit to not having thought of it that way before she pointed it out. After the show, I felt as if the musical itself deals with the intense subject of African American segregation in America in the 1960s fairly well and leaving us with an overall positive message. Upon further reflection, I can see her point, but it is unclear to me how much they can do to absolve the issue within such an upbeat context.

All and all, major kudos to the production team of MUSKET. Heads up for their upcoming production of Little Shop of Horrors next semester! Can’t wait!!

Visit them at their website: click here!

REVIEW Michigan Men’s Glee Club !

Last night I went to the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club 153rd Annual Fall Concert.  I brought my friend along, and we had great seats on the main floor front and center.  Hill Auditorium is a great place for concerts, with a big, open, well-lit stage and comfy cushioned red seats.  As I walked into the auditorium, my first impression was overjoyed at the sound of such harmonious singing.  I was impressed at how the men sang in such perfect harmony and with such poise.  They exhibited great stature and confidence throughout the entire concert.  This was not surprising to me since they were taking instruction from conductor Eugene Rogers.  Dr. Eugene Rogers is the associate director of choirs at the University of Michigan as well as the conductor of the Men’s Glee club, and he also teaches undergraduate conducting here at Michigan.  Rogers was an enthusiastic host and so grateful to all the people who came to see the show.  I was amazed at how he could lead such a large group of singers with a single gesture or motion of his hands.  The Men’s Glee club was also looking quite classy in their professional concert attire (black suit, white tie) and red boutonnieres.   

One of my favorite parts of the show was when Vision, the male ensemble from the Detroit School of Arts conducted by Cheryl Whitney Valentine accompanied the stage.  These high school boys blew me away.  Their rendition of “Rock-A-My-Soul” was soulful and impassioned.  By the end, they had the whole audience clapping along.  Another highlight of the show was the Friars’ hilarious appearance after intermission.  The Friars are the oldest a cappella group on the U-M campus and are a popular Ann Arbor Act.  They prepare their own music and choreography and are known for their spontaneity.  Two of their members in charge of the introduction were joking around that due to budget cuts, their group had been reduced from eight to two.  But I loved their final line when introducing the rest of their group:  “And Now due to unfortunate circumstances we present you..”  

They started their act out with Bright Sunshiny Day which captivated their light-hearted, carefree spirit spot on.  They are surely a spontaneous bunch and their humor was effortless; they left the entire crowd laughing.  The reason I found them so amusing is because they seemed like they were having genuine fun and loved to entertain people.  For future notice, their 57th Annual Study Break Concert is on Thursday, December 6th at Rackham Auditorium.  I have never been to one of their concerts, but after seeing their performance last night, I am definitely planning on going!

Towards the end of the show, the Men’s Glee club sang some Christmas songs—it’s never too early to get into the holiday spirit!  They sang Silent Night and Joy to the World, but they were both very upbeat, quick, and kind of jazzy versions.  I had never heard either of these songs sung in such a manner, so it was interesting to hear them in a different tune and setting.  Overall, the Men’s Glee Club did a fantastic job last night.  I give them two thumbs up.  You have to check them out!!!

Review: Hold me Bat Boy, Touch me Bat Boy…..

I went to see the Department of Musical Theater’s performance of “Bat Boy” on Saturday instead of going to the IOWA game. I’m pretty positive I made the right choice.

For those of you who don’t know, this musical is based off the “Weekly World News” Headline “Found in West Virginia Cave – a half boy, half bat!” The writers of this farce Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming couldn’t have asked for a better setting or subject matter. They, along with Music contributions from Laurence O’Keefe, have created their own monster of dark, clever and campy humor, complex plot, cross-dressing Virginians (although, this may have been an artistic choice of the MT director), incest, love, random woodsy scenes…. it goes on.

The music is memorable, the choreography, by director Linda Goodrich, was entertaining and creative. And what can I say about the cast?

Bat Boy – junior Ryan Vasques has a beautiful tenor voice and a phenomenal stage presence. He uses his whole body to express himself, which was important for this role. His development from non-verbal Bat Boy to well educated young man was very believable, which considering the subject matter was an unexpected experience.

Shelly Parker – senior Ashley Park also has a strong voice and held her own on stage with a number of very dominant male characters. Her playful body language was fun and Park knew just how far to push the caricature with out becoming tedious or annoying, which is harder than one might think. Her comfort in her own skin was apparent and definitely helped the strength of her role.

Meridith Parker – senior Jane Bruce has a strength in her that radiates into every corner of the theater. Her voice is full and strong, well developed and matured. She carried the emotional trials of her character very well and held a “No” for an impressively long time! Bruce was very enjoyable to watch on stage. She harmonizes beautifully too!

Dr. Thomas Parker – junior Zachary Thompson. I’ve met Zach once. He told me to go see Bat Boy. I didn’t realize over all what I was about to get myself into nor did I know what to expect from Zach’s performance. Let me tell you that Zachery Thompson is quite the physical actor. I was quite impressed to see what he could do with his body, the wiggles and natural flow that he was able to whip out at will. His comedic timing was unbeatable in this production and he didn’t miss a note. Thompson was also very convincing in his role. He masterfully perpetuated the plot line and seamlessly carried himself through from beginning to end.

Senior Travis Ward-Osborne (Rick Taylor, Lorraine, Mr Dillion) who’s voice and (again) physicality blew me away. Ward-Osborne was close to stealing the show if his fellow leads hadn’t been so overwhelmingly strong.

The ensemble did a very nice job, they were beautifully in synch with each other. Unfortunately senior Jordan Barrow (Mrs. Taylor, Reverend Billy Hightower, Roy) although he had a beautiful voice could not project past his mic. When he was playing the Reverend his voice got lost in the crowd, which was too bad because his performance was otherwise very impressive.

All in all this was a fantastic production, my first experience of the Musical Theater Department at Michigan. The set design was amazing, the lighting not too overwhelming (thank god, there is nothing worse than a bad lighting designer).

The only complaint I really have about the production is the acoustics in the Arthur Miller Theater, the sound wall created by the band sometimes made the voices difficult to hear and the hard boxy walls deadened sound.

So it Goes.

See a Dept of Musical Theater show! They are very talented and worthwhile!

PREVIEW: A Little Night Music, Performance Network

A Little Night Music
A Little Night Music

Being the Stephen Sondheim fan that I am, I freaked out when I saw the poster for A Little Night Music lit up in the window display of the Performance Network the other day. I lept on the opportunity to buy tickets and am so excited to see the show.

After a little researching on Wikipedia, A Little Night Music is a show by Sondheim and the book was written by Hugh Wheeler. The show tells the story of several romantic love lifes, featuring young lovers and their sequential other halves. The song list includes many famous numbers, including “Send in the Clowns.”

I’ve never seen a Performance Network show, so I’m super excited to see how they pull of the classic work. November 15 – December 30 they’ll be showing the performance, so grab your tickets soon!!