REVIEW: Guys and Dolls

The stage opens with an impressive performance of the difficult Fugue for Tinhorns, and suddenly I knew the Musical Theatre Department had quite the show in store for us this year. It was quite the change from past years to see such a lighthearted, flamboyant musical, considering the first musical I saw performed on this stage was Les Misérables. This was the first time I have been able to leave the theatre without contemplating the show for hours time after. It was pure, straightforward, good entertainment. Of course, it could be said that this is a negative quality of a performance, but I believe Guys and Dolls should be performed in this way. For the last 60 years, Guys and Dolls has been a comedic, cheerful show with classic and memorable tunes that people will have stuck in their heads for days. Therefore, it was quite refreshing to leave a Michigan School of Theatre performance and for once not be caught up in analyzing the show.

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Now I would love to argue that either the guys cast or the dolls cast far outshone the other, but this argument simply cannot be made. The lead female actresses played their parts perfectly. Adelaide Lament was adorable and charming, with an incredible confidence when performing in her hotbox shows. She, as well as the rest of the cast, used the New York accent impeccably without ever faltering. Each time she came on the stage, I had a smile on my face because of the joy I got from watching her perform. Sarah Brown’s consternation from her interactions with Sky were endearing and their scene in Havana clearly portrayed the actors’ chemistry, even if it wasn’t featured much throughout the rest of the play.

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Additionally, the guys cast was spectacular. Sky Masterson was charming and suave, per usual, while Nathan Detroit was portrayed differently from the persona I am used to seeing in Guys and Dolls. In this performance, the actor who played Nathan made him quirky and goofy, which made the whole show all the more entertaining. But above and beyond the lead male characters was the male chorus. Their performance of the Crapshooters Ballet must have been the most impressive dance number I have seen performed in a play on this campus. The timing was impeccable, with every member of the chorus completely in synchronicity. The moves were challenging, but executed with grace and ease, making the whole number look incredibly easy. I must say this was, in my opinion, the shining moment of the entire musical. Without a challenging emotional struggle to portray on stage, as in Les Misérables, the show may have lacked its ‘wow’ factor if not for this dance number.

Overall, I am overjoyed to have seen our talented students perform yet again. I do miss the intense emotional performances of past years, but it was a nice change to have an unambiguously fun show. I do look forward to next year’s performance of The Little Mermaid and to seeing the new students that will be brought into the spotlight!

PREVIEW: Guys and Dolls


When: April 14 at 7:30 pm, April 15-16 at 8:00 pm, April 17 at 2:00 pm

Where: Power Center

How Much: $12 for Students, $26 and $32 for General Admission

Why: Because it is the last big performance of the year! Who doesn’t love a good classic musical performed by some of the best in the country?! The Musical Theatre Department never fails to make their final show a memorable one. So if I were you, I wouldn’t miss out! People will be talking about it for years to come!


REVIEW: The Imaginary Invalid

Well here I am thinking I have been exposed to enough SMTD performances that nothing could surprise me anymore. How wrong I was! The Imaginary Invalid was by far one of the most unexpected plays I have seen yet at the University of Michigan. Of course, you go in expecting a relaxing night of comedic entertainment, and leave wondering what the heck you just witnessed. Our theatre department has mastered this skill to surprise the audience, no matter the genre of the performance, and I think this is the true reason why I love our school so much. We do not settle for a normal rendition of Molière, but strive to surprise the audience and provide them with a completely unique experience.

Admittedly, I have never seen Molière performed before, so I was not entirely sure what I was in for, but I could have never imagined the raucous farce that awaited me. There was everything from potty humor to satire on medicine, beautifully executed choreography to improved jokes about it being April Fools’ Day. My personal favorite must have been the moment towards the end when Argan had just been made a doctor in a fake ceremony, and out comes Hillary Clinton on stage, declaring her love for Argan. It was the pinnacle of a truly bizarre and hysterical show.

Not only was the humor perfectly executed, but the characters were played effortlessly by the actors. Particularly Toinette and Argan were performed with incredible ease. It truly makes a huge difference when the actors have such a solid grasp on their characters, since comedy comes off much better to the audience when there is no meagerness in the performance. And in the crazy moments when the humor is verging on outlandish, the actors must portray the joke perfectly according to the setting of the play, or the audience will not find it amusing. If the actors take on the situation whole-heartedly and revel in its strangeness, the audience will follow along. This was perpetuated by the interactivity with the audience throughout the play, such as when the actors would run through the chairs in a middle of a spat. I really felt absorbed in this crazed world of insanity for the length of the performance, and I loved every moment of it. I definitely recommend you get out to see this play before it ends next week! One of my favorite shows I have seen yet, and the most I have laughed in a long time!

PREVIEW: The Imaginary Invalid

What: A brilliant satire on the medical profession put on by our very own Theatre Department

When: Thursday March 31 and April 7 at 7:30, Friday April 1 and 8 at 8:00, Saturday April 2 and 9 at 8:00, Sunday April 3 and 10 at 2:00

Where: Arthur Miller Theatre

How Much: $28 for General Admission, $12 for Students

Don’t miss it!!!!

REVIEW: Fortinbras

Saturday night ended up being a hoot of a time, sitting in a packed Arthur Miller Theatre on north campus. I have always admired this theatre for truly connecting the audience to the performers. The setting makes the entire experience incredibly intimate. You can see the actors spit and sweat and almost feel the heat from their bodies. THAT is how close you are to the action. And the play was incredibly well suited for this intimate setting.

Fortinbras started off at the end of Hamlet, in the classic Shakespearean language, as we watched Hamlet tell Horatio to make sure his story was told. Immediately after Hamlet takes his last breath, Fortinbras walks onto the stage, immediately breaking the tension and shifting the entire feeling of the play as he speaks in modern day English and starts cracking jokes about the situation. This was the perfect way to set the stage for the rest of the performance. From then on, I could not stop laughing.

The lead actor who played Fortinbras was perfect for this hilarious character. He did an excellent job of making fun of himself and demonstrably making the situation humorous. In fact, the entire cast had an incredible chemistry that resulted in a great performance of comedy. I was definitely surprised at how much I audibly laughed. Even though I do not remember every detail from the original play Hamlet, I was able to catch onto most of the jokes and follow the plot line of Fortinbras. The entire performance was in this way accessible to anyone who would like to attend.

I definitely would rank this performance in the top 5 I have seen of the musical theatre department. Their comedic timing was perfect, the actors were amazingly rehearsed, and story was easy to follow, making it a relaxed and entertaining show. I love that our students are so amazingly talented that they can do both extreme drama and lighthearted humor. I definitely hope to see another comedy of this level again in the future!



REVIEW: Clybourne Park

It amazes me how much watching a play can really make you question the reality you live in. This is not the first time I have attended a performance by the Department of Theatre and Drama that had me leaving in deep contemplation. It’s one skill that our drama department seems to have mastered.

Admittedly the play started out rather slowly. It was hard to catch on to the comedy at first, and there did not seem to be much of a plot until 15 minutes in. However, as more characters joined in, and more jokes were told, the audience started catching on to the story. There was definitely some very dry humor that takes a certain type of person to appreciate, but if you understood what they were going for it was very comedic.

The first half of the play took place in the 50s, discussing the possibility of a black family moving into Clybourne Park. The characters argued and argued about the implications of integrating black and white families into the same neighborhood, and passion flared high. The second act picked up in 2009, with Clybourne Park now an old neighborhood that is beginning the process of gentrification. A white family was attempting to buy the house from a black family, and with their lawyers present they battled over a variety of issues, all related to the same problems that were present 50 years earlier.

The play is genius in how it integrates old and new themes of race relations into one depressing picture of how little we have truly evolved in dealing with these sensitive issues. I felt very impassioned listening to the absurd disputes on stage about how essential it is for us to learn how to love everyone, regardless of their background or identity. The play consisted of so much shouting and anger and resentment, that it reminded me how much we need to be turning away from confrontation and towards caring and communication. The very last seen touched on this same note, depicting the underlying story of how a young veteran killed himself after coming back from the Korean War. It was haunting and sad, but so important to tie the play together. Over all this yelling and hatred, it was impossible to focus on the sadness of the true issue at hand. And that is the importance of loving each other and taking time to notice each other’s troubles. Overall, this play was a perfect way to examine our world today in a comedic and entertaining way, and I hope everyone who went to see it was as moved as I was.

Clybourne Park