Review: By the Skin of Our Teeth

The Antrobus Family
The Antrobus Family

Hello all! I hope you had a wonderful weekend full of shows and company (pun intended)(this makes me wonder how I have friends). I went to a lot of shows during mine and I want to tell you about one I saw on Friday evening with a friend. By the Skin of Our Teeth, written by Thorton Wilder, won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, but its greatness in the literary world means more than just dramatic genius. The play is confusing and strange while also being fantastic and eye opening. It is hard to describe, and hard not to… It’s just one big mess in my head, basically. But I loved it so much and all of the thoughts that it provokes.

By the Skin of Our Teeth takes a look at basic human natures and those characteristics that make us human. By dividing human identities amongst a family of four and a family friend, the author shows how humanity grows and changes throughout history, how we have the capacity to destroy and to rebuild. It displays the human condition through metaphors and mixed timelines, displaying both the complete loss of faith and the ability to regain it and find hope again. All of this you don’t really understand till the end though. I guess I should start from the beginning.

The show began in the stone age, or was it the 50’s? You can’t really tell. While Mr. Antrobus, head of the family is off at work, Mrs. Antrobus is home with the maid, making house and trying to raise two kids. But while this may seem like a regular American family at first, it follows that the husband is off discovering the wheel and the alphabet, a dinosaur is freezing outside as an ice age approaches, the maid is milking a mammoth, and the son is Cane, renamed after infamously murdering his brother. Historical figures, like Moses, Homer, and the nine Muses, find shelter in the Antrobus’ home while they all huddle together and try to survive the approaching wall of ice. The play focuses on the unconditional love, compassion, and duty displayed by a mother, the unrivaled anger, innovation, and passion of a father, the suffering and joy of children, and in the maid we see a woman’s ability to inspire and dream while also maintaining a sense of reason. Sabina, the maid, breaks the fourth wall the entire play, coming out of character to explain to the audience how strange a scene is, or how she is as lost as us. It’s hilariously relieving as an audience member and very clever of the author, as he tells us that the production is supposed to be this puzzling.

The second act places itself in Atlantic City on the boardwalk as Mr. Antrobus becomes president of the Ancient and Honorable Order of Mammals, Subdivision Humans. Though we find ourselves on a boardwalk full of performers, dancers, sailors, business men, etc, it is also obvious that the great flood is approaching. Other orders of animals are sending representatives in pairs, a modern day fortune teller is predicting the great deluge as a prophet would. Mr. Antrobus reflects Noah as he summons these animals and his family onto a boat to once again start anew, but he also represents a more modern issue of adultery as he once again cheats on his wife with Sabina. President with a beauty queen, breadwinner with the maid, these are both archetypes of adultery that warrant discussion in the play. Henry, formerly Cane, feels the angst of adolescent and attempts to run away while his sister experiments with new fashions disliked by her mother an unnoticed by her otherwise distracted father. The play questions modern family dynamics as much as it does humanities abilities to cope during disasters and traumas.

The last act of the play opens on the shell of the Antrobus home, darkened and destroyed by war. Sabina seeks them out with a flashlight, declaring the end of a war. This act describes war, pushing a WWII theme onto the stage with set, wardrobe, and writing. It illustrates the effect tragedy, chaos, and destruction that humanity has the capability to inflict upon one another. The act also shows us how even a family that has lasted for thousands of years, through flood, fire, and ice, can still give up and lose hope. Mr. Antrobus and Sabina both feel the weight of what the world has done, and it takes so much for them to believe again. Henry becomes the enemy once again, led by his false belief of the neglect of his family. We see them struggle and fight and then make up when his mother shows him the truth of a family’s love. Sabina, inspired, reignites that spark of invention and human preservation that has always kept Mr. Antrobus going. We feel revived with the sensation of renewal. The Antrobuses move forward to try again where humanity has failed so many times. And Mr. Antrobus recalls the figures in human history that have inspired the philosophies of man, including Socrates and the Bible, as hours in the night. They pass slowly throughout history, but for human kind, what is history but one night in all of destiny?

It is a difficult play to describe. Its poetic nature donates so much to discussion that I want to stop here and just say how absolutely wonderful the cast was. They took something very difficult and played it perfectly, managing to mix its comedies with its dramas so fluidly that the audience was surprised to be laughing one moment and then shocked the next. It was a beautiful performance I and find myself better to have [seen] it.

Thank you for reading,

As always,
This is Danny fob. Artist and art reviewer.

Preview: The Skin of Our Teeth

Hi Everyone! I know it’s been a really really really really long time, but Danny Fob is back to tell you about the amazing things happening all around campus. Sorry for the hiatus, but I had this crazy horrible busy semester that involved some really epic research and papers. Basically, I had no life and couldn’t even see shows, might as well write about them. Everyone I know had the same experience, so hopefully this one will be way better. It is my last, so let’s hope so.

Anyway, tonight I’m going to The Skin of Our Teeth, a SMTD production. I am looking forward to seeing it. Apparently it is rarely put on or seen, so this should prove to be a rare and wonderful experience full of the adventures of a family as it connects to different periods of history and society. I am seeing it tonight, Friday at 8pm, but if you plan on seeing it, it is also playing Saturday at 8pm in the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater and then again on Sunday, February 24th at 2pm. I hope you all come out and see it!

As always,
Danny Fob

Preview: Rhymenoceros in the HOUSE

I’m back! It’s been a long time and I was an ocean away last time you heard from me. Writing about the arts in Italy was a really great experience, but I definitely missed American musical theater and especially the culture of the arts in Ann Arbor. The Power Center

has been my favorite venue on campus for three years now and nothing like it existed in Bologna. Of course they had huge grandioso 200 year old theaters, but still, not the Power Center. And saying that, I am so happy to be back to art[seen] and to Ann Arbor. My first show, though only because I had to miss the Kidd Pivot performance :(, is the Théâtre de la Ville: Ionesco’s Rhinocéros performance. I’ve heard really great things about it and I would really like to see a show before going somewhere for fall break. It’s been so long since I’ve seen a show of any kind that I feel like I might explode if I don’t go to a show soon, so I chose the one where people randomly turn into rhinos. What can you do?

I am very interested in the show tonight, even if I make fun of the premise. The writer, Eugène Ionesco, was influenced by his time in Romania when everyone around him began converting to a more fascist way of life. Being an Italian major, I’ve spent so much of my academic concentration studying the culture, structure, and effects of fascism in Italy, Europe, and worldwide. I hope this play will continue to help us understand such a large part of the world’s darker history and entertain the us like only the theater can.

Normally here I would give a breakdown of how much I’m paying for tickets and everything, but I still don’t have my tickets and I’m sort of writing to you during class, so I will get the tickets afterword, but I assume student rush tickets are around $10 or you can use Passport to the arts vouchers. Other than that I can give you the other details.

What: Théâtre de la Ville: Ionesco’s Rhinocéros
Where: Power Center for the Performing Arts
When: Friday, October 12, 2012, 7:30pm and
Saturday, October 13, 2012 7:30pm

Maybe I’ll see you there! Happy break!

coming to you from Art History lecture,
Danny Fob

Review: Little Women, Big Hearts

This Friday I got out of work very frustrated and ready to go to bed, but then I walked into Arthur Miller Theater to see the Department of Musical Theatre Studio Production’s Little Women the Musical. As soon as the show started it was like I was taken back to my own childhood as we explored the adventures of the young protagonist Jo March. Her family, consisting of her mother, her three sisters, her father away at war, and the later addition of their friend Laurie, went through both hardship and joy as Jo grows up with a dream of writing. This story is famous and is a piece of classic American literature. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, has inspired and

moved millions of Americans and has led to the production of a movie, a musical, an opera, and a play. It is such a beautiful story and it always gets to me (I saw the opera last year) because I also have three siblings and I often feel like it is the four of us up on stage. Anyway, enough about yours truly.

The show! The music is original, magnificent, and fun. A large portion of the story takes place in Jo’s childhood, and the music reflects that perfectly. It is bouncy, fun, and sort of quirky sometimes like Jo herself. The lyrics are also cleverly written to reflect the youth and innocence so important to the story. All the actors carry out the scenes of adolescence so well. The funniest things happen and they dance around like mad, but they never break character. But of course, they are fantastic. For those who often visit the campus musical theater scene, these actors are locally renowned for great performances and you may recognize their names; Jane Bruce as Jo, Trevor St. John-Gilbert as Professor Bhaer, Ali Gordon, Samantha Massell and Paige Silvester as the sisters, Katherine Thomas as Marmee, and Harry Katzman as Mr. Lawrence (Full Cast). I preferred this version of the show to the opera, but I have a feeling that the reason is because the musical is a little more cheerful. I remember that the opera seemed really depressing and a little slow, whereas this one seemed to moved faster and, though it was sad, it didn’t leave me sad the entire night. I just cried the whole second act with a friend of mine. No big deal.

I was also excited to finally go the Arthur Miller theater. Last time I went there was for freshmen orientation! I enjoyed the set design of the show, being very open with few props. The set allowed for multiple entrances, giving it a much more interactive feel. The audience was also right next to the stage and the theater donates an almost Shakespearian theater style, taking place right among the viewers.

Although this is my not my favorite musical, I did enjoy it very much and I was so glad to go out and support all of the wonderful performers, especially since it will be my last time seeing many of them. This will also be my last art[seen] post for seven months! That’s right folks! I’m studying abroad this winter in Italy at the University of Bologna! Luckily for me, Italian is my major, which means studying abroad is basically required. But don’t worry. If you will miss me, you can see my blog posts every week because I’m moving over to arts, ink. for the semester as an ambassador abroad! So if you are looking for me online, just check out my weekly blog on the arts, ink. website. I’ll be writing about art in Italy, which obviously isn’t that hard to find.

I hope you are all worker harder than I am on exams, because I know I need to crack down. So with that, I begin yet another paper and I wish you all a wonderful holiday season. Here’s to a new year and a new country!

Sending you love and light,

Danny Fob

(Coffee is on me if you can name the show that my sign off is from!)

Seriously, read my blog at arts, ink.!

Preview: Little Women, the Musical?

Last year I was blown away by the fact that Little Women was turned into an opera, but I went and thought it was fantastic. So when I heard that the musical was being put on this year, I had to go! Maybe next they’ll do the play…or I could read the book! But who has time for that? Maybe one day,

since it is a piece of classical American literature and all. The musical, inspired of course by Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women, is being put on this weekend by the Department of Musical Theatre Studio Production. The story of these four sisters and the trials they go through is sure to be a night to remember and I hope that the music by Jason Howland and the lyrics by Mindi Dickstein will be as memorable for me as that of Bare, which I reviewed last weekend. Maybe I’ll be listening to and singing Little Women for a week too!

This will be a welcome break right before exam week (which most of us will refer to as Hell Week) and I hope you can go out to a show or do something to relieve some of that built up stressing out. I promise, the sound of beautiful voices coming out of some of the sexiest people on campus really does things for the soul. You won’t be let down, because in musical theater, I don’t even think that is possible (unless you’re one of those Sondheim fans that hate everything that he didn’t write).

So here are the details, I know it sucks to have to read through some crazy guy’s thoughts all the time, so here it is laid out ;

What: Little Women the Musical

Thursday 12/8 @ 7:30pm
Friday 12/9 @ 8:00pm
Saturday 12/10 @ 2:00pm
Saturday 12/10 @ 8:00pm
Sunday 12/11 @ 2:00pm

Where: Arthur Miller Theater on North Campus (it’s a great theater, worth the commute)

How much: Student rush $10 BUT HURRY! They’re going fast! They are nearly sold out!

With that, I sign off. Get back to studying!

Sending you love and light,

Danny Fob

(Coffee is on me if you can name the show that my sign off is from!)

P.S. I actually LOVE Sondheim, I’m just not all hipster about him.

Review: Better Be at Bare

Fantastic! That’s what I have to say about Basement Arts’ production of “Bare: A Pop Opera.” I had no idea what to expect, but what I saw was great! The show is basically Rent except Catholic Highschool style. Studio 1 was kind of small, but we all managed to fit in and enjoy the show. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack online ever since, I liked it so much. I hope they do it again next year!

The show was off-broadway years ago, which I can understand because it is not the kind of show that can make it on the big stage. It is set in a high school, severely limiting the target audience to a much younger crowd. Though I’m sure many people would enjoy the show,

Driving in your car andautoverzekering vergelijken is something very common.

it does not have as mature of a feel as something like Rent or Spring Awakening. It does have important messages for young people going through situations of depression, addiction, eating disorder, sexual discovery, self-hate, teen pregnancy, and loneliness. These messages come through quite clearly in an exciting, but slightly predictable plot.

What I enjoyed most about the show was the music. The melodies alone prove to be unique and contemporary, with interesting twisting harmonies that are surprising and beautiful. The lyrics are clever and perfectly chosen. They convey a very adolescent language while tastefully delivering the deeper messages of the show. My favorite song of the show, “See Me,” is the main character coming out to his mother on the phone. Peter and his mother are dancing around one word and it really brought many of us to tears. Michael Hartung, Peter, has the most beautiful voice and plays this part splendidly. It was such a heartbreaking performance. I actually believe that Michael rocked this performance to its core. He was amazing and I wish he would sing just one song to me. Any song. At all. I’m actually sending the video to my mom. Seriously, this is how much I loved it….Anyway, didn’t mean to have an outburst. Most of the cast was amazing. I especially like Sister Chantelle. She is so sassy and wise at the same time!

The only complaint I have about this show? I’m sick of all musicals about Gay people ending in the gay guy DYING!!!!! All of them do that! I do not understand! I want to see one happy gay couple end the play together, because in all of them, the gay couple is perfect. Please, if you are a musical writer reading this, right me a happy gay ending!
On an ending note, I had a great time and this coming weekend I am somehow finding time to go see Little Women! I’m really excited, so if you like my posts, keep a lookout 🙂

Sending you love and light,

Danny Fob

(Coffee is on me if you can name the show that my sign off is from!)