PREVIEW: The Reign of Pops

A new year means new music from the Michigan Pops Orchestra. For the fall semester, Michigan Pops is taking over the world with its show, “The Reign of Pops.” The great theme of royalty can be seen in the music of Swan Lake, Prince of Egypt, and many Disney tunes. As usual of Pops concerts, The Reign of Pops will combine vocal performers, special effects, and multimedia for an unforgettable musical experience. The concert is Sunday, November 18 at 7pm at the Michigan Theater. Tickets are $5 for students, $8 for adults, and free for students in public schools and seniors 65+. Tickets are available at the door on the night of the concert.

REVIEW: Whose Live Anyway?

I could barely contain my excitement as I sat in the Michigan Theater, processing that I was in the same room as Ryan Stiles and Jeff Davis, comedic legends who I have grown to love after watching them on Whose Line Is It Anyway, one of my favorite tv shows of all time. After spending months looking forward to this event, Whose Live was finally happening, and it did not disappoint.

Jeff Davis, Greg Proops, and Ryan Stiles were just as funny live as they are on Whose Line, proving that the television show really is improv comedy driven by audience suggestions. While Joel Murray is not a regular on the tv show, his comedic timing and improv was up to par with the rest of the more established improv comedians.

Classic improv games such as “Options” and “New Choice” were played, resulting in an interesting Dr. Seuss nihilism scene. Celebrity Jeopardy was also clever, with responses such as “What comes after Hamil-nine” in response to “Hamilton” and “What do you call a drunk grizzly” in response to “Beer.”

Music was present throughout the entire night, completely improvised by the musical director Bob Derkach, who was also musical director for Second City Toronto for 25 years. Jeff Davis sang a song for Stephanie, an avid fan of the show who was asked onstage at a previous show. He tried to serenade her in the style of Diana Ross but her love for Cathy, her partner, won out over her love for Jeff. The greatest hits infomercial about hairdressers resulted in wonderful duos by Jeff and Ryan in the style of country western, folk, and rock.

Audience participation was crucial, as always, to an improv show. In addition to all the suggestions shouted out as prompts for scenes, there was more direct participation in certain games. Ryan and Greg acted out the soap opera, “The Secrets of Saginaw”, with scripted lines written by audience members. The four comedians reenacted the first date of Karen and her partner of 17 years with a very similar name. The Polish and Macedonian couple kept the comedians honest in their improved reenactment by honking a horn when they got something wrong and ringing a bell when they got it right. Many truths were humorously exaggerated as their story played out onstage. “Sound Effects” was a game with two volunteers who provided the sound effects for Jeff and Joel, who were steel miners. Finally, for the encore, they invited Cathy, Stephanie’s partner, onto the stage. Ryan conducted a story of Cathy’s sick horse by pointing to each of the comedians and Cathy to continue the story, which ended in a injured and dead horse and zero sympathy from Cathy.

Many jokes were made about Saginaw and the Lions, probably because there are many jokes that can be made there. Stabs were also made at Canada, and Columbus, Ohio was booed, making this a true Ann Arbor show. The comedians also walked away enlightened about Michigan culture. Greg Proops learned the correct way to use his hands as a map of Michigan and about the delicious reputation of Zingerman’s. I couldn’t control the hearty and genuine laughter that escaped from my mouth, and getting to see Whose Live was definitely something I’ve always dreamed of and finally got to experience.

PREVIEW: Whose Live Anyway?

If you’re a fan of the show where “everything’s made up and the points don’t matter,” then turn off your TV and come to this live event based completely off of audience suggestions. With classic games, scenes, and improv legends in front of your very eyes onstage, Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Jeff B. Davis, and Joel Murray present Whose Live Anyway? Catch their quickest wit and catchiest songs at the Michigan Theater on October 29 at 8 PM.

REVIEW: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Let’s do the time warp again. And let’s do it with a drag moth.

Rocky Horror Picture Show’s cult following came through, as the Leather Medusas performed a sold-out show at the Michigan Theater over the weekend. With many fans dressed in wigs, there was massive excitement and anticipation for the annual Rocky Horror Picture Show. And then, a beautiful Moth emerged onstage and everyone lost it. With sass and pride on full display, the Moth got the show started in style.

As a Rocky Horror Virgin who knew very little about the show going in except for the fact that it was weird, I was a bit unprepared for what the next hour and a half had in store for me. Little will be said about the movie, since the 1975 film has become a cult classic that is either known in its entirety or known with very actual knowledge of the show (the latter of which I happened to fall in before myself). And for the other Rocky Horror Virgins out there, I won’t spoil the very first experience for you, because let me tell you — it is quite the experience indeed.

One of the things that makes the Rocky Horror Picture Show a true experience is the talking back to the screen, which is understandable because some things in that movie just make you want to scream — and with this movie, you actually get to. However, the audience participation was at times rather annoying since it was hard to understand what everyone was shouting, and since I had no idea what was happening to begin with, I wanted to understand what everyone was shouting. Granted, some preparation beforehand could’ve been done on my part to help fully prepare myself for this experience. But I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, so I didn’t know what I had to prepare for. Nonetheless, clever lines were shouted every now and then that made the callbacks bearable. Particularly because Rocky Horror is a known cult classic, all the shouting was part of the experience, so I embraced it through my waves of annoyance.

The Leather Medusas shadow cast put on a phenomenal and amusing show full of hypersexual dancing and well-timed acting that didn’t disappoint as they received a standing ovation at the end. With Demetrius Markel as the muscular Rocky, he showed off his cheerleading skills through impressive moves that got the crowd riled up. The entire cast with wondrous costumes was exceptional in performing this show that requires a lot.

Now that I have lost my Rocky Horror virginity, I await for next year’s show with sweet, sweet antici…pation.

REVIEW: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

“I wish to lose all morals, and accept decadence into my heart.”

The night starts off with crowds of people in sparkles and lingerie and all black  piled up outside of the Michigan Theater, eager to begin their Rocky Horror experience. An experience that is varied and cannot be restricted by just one adjective. An experience that is energetic, erotic, campy, and…. scientific?

With an introduction from a moth, who welcomes all of the groups who are out – the straights, the gays, the sorrorities – the crowd is riled up before the film has started. Prohibited items include: ice, confetti, water guns, candles or lighters, whole rolls of toilet paper, hot dogs, and prunes. But the moth pointed out that squares of toilet paper, or streamers, or 3/4 of a roll of toilet paper, are allowed. It is only the Leather Medusa’s second year putting on a shadow cast show of RHPS at the theater, but they’re sold out.

I stand for my virgin pledge, with about half of the audience who are marked with red lipstick Vs. Surprisingly, such a prominent cult classic still remains unseen by many. Not so surprisingly, the Rocky Horror virgins of the world are curious about the film and its culture, intrigued by its ostentatious reputation and loyal followers. And tonight, our curiosity is to be fulfilled. Soon everyone stands together, for the Rocky Horror pledge and with much anti… cipation – the show begins.

Newly engaged Brad and Janet get stuck in the rain, and wander into Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s castle, where they have a long night ahead of them. The shadow cast saunters around the stage, their costumes and movements perfectly matching those of the film’s characters. The audience yells “ASSHOLE!” at Brad, “SLUT!” at Janet, “WHERE’S YOUR NECK?” at the criminologist, and a variety of other more specific, seemingly-scripted, comments. The film can barely be heard. This culture is not exactly for the prude or sensitive – although they are the ones that the culture loves to deflower the most. Similarly to the audience culture around Tommy Wiseau’s ‘The Room’, some describe this movie-going experience as wildly inconsiderate and vulgar. But the lines of accepted norms are blurred in the midst of such a cult classic, one that drew counterculture crowds as a midnight movie at its release and still draws those audiences (or those who shapeshift into such for a night) today.

Attempting to watch the film over the yelling of the crowd, I do my best to stay in-tune while actively participating. But the participation doesn’t take away from the film’s grandeur. The unusual set, defined characters, theatrical costumes and makeup, peculiar sci-fi characteristics, lively songs and dances, canted angles, effective use of various lenses, irony, and sexual notions, are enough to interest audiences even when they are unclear of the plot (which is somewhat unclear, anyway.) I’m sure all of the other virgins sometimes sat just as confused as me, but also pleasantly entertained.

Seeing Rocky Horror is a uniting experience: the audience, together, are just as important as the film. Dancing the time warp, throwing cards and pieces of toast, everyone is in tune with one another. Even the virgins. We catch on. If all goes as planned by the Transylvanians, by the end of the film you’re going to want to dance and yell and touch everyone and be covered in sequins and dramatic makeup.

PREVIEW: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Halloween is here, and what better way to celebrate the spooky season than with The Rocky Horror Picture Show? In the 10th hour of the night on October 20th, the Leather Medusas, a group of University of Michigan students, are bringing the cult classic show in the annual Ann Arbor showing. In a sing-along, shout-along, and dance-along fashion, come out to the Michigan Theater to do the Time Warp with the Leather Medusas this year.