He has a radio program on WXOU out of Oakland University
Wild At Heart
As you all should know by now, I am back in Spencerport, NY (a mere 15 miles from downtown Rochester) and looking to learn how to adjust to life with the parents. After a few days of packing and loading up a pod for the move (many thanks to Saad who I wouldn’t have made it without his help), I am now trying to unload and reorganize my stuff into my parents house. It is not a fun process but it will be accomplished within the next few weeks. I moved back home to help take care of my parents who have suffered from health issues this past year. Despite knowing it to be the right thing to do, I am definitely missing my life in Michigan which has always been exciting and filled with fun. Now I have to worry about staying up too late, messing up the house with my stuff, getting up too late and all that other fun stuff that I thought I had shed since I left for college about 20 years ago. I am definitely going to miss that independence most of all of just going where I want when I want. I have some latitude but now I got my parents to think about in the equation also.
One thing I will miss is movie screenings and this week I have one film to talk about in time for Halloween. It is the remake of the 1978 cult classic, “I Spit On Your Grave”, from Anchor Bay. Remaining pretty faithful to the original, this film has writer Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) taking a retreat from the city to a charming cabin in the woods (I want to start singing “Cabin In The Woods” from ‘Evil Dead: The Musical’ here) where she is going to start writing her new book. After stopping at the local gas station to get directions, the hick boys who run the place decide they want to tame this city girl. They break into her cabin and quickly turn to acts of humiliation and intimidation and finally rape and abuse after the sheriff joins in. When she breaks free from the men, she jumps into a river which washes her body away. The guys think she is dead but want to find a body to get rid of all the evidence. Before too long, Jennifer emerges from the swamp and takes revenge on the guys. This film does up the violence of the first film and adds some more gore. It also maintains a storyline which has fewer plot holes than the 1978 version. The acting is solid as a film like this gets and makes this a film worth seeing, esp in time for the holidays. I give the film an A-.
If you want something frightening at the theatre, I recommend “Dracula: A Rock Opera” at Meadowbrook Theatre. This is the third time the story of Dracula has been brought to the Meadowbrook stage, though the first time with a rock music score and wire work. “Dracula: A Rock Opera” was created in 1997 by John R Biggs with music by Dennis West and they did a decent job putting a blend of rock opera to the classic story. Unlike “Little Shop”, Rocky Horror” or Evil Dead”, the songs don’t come at you with comic lyrics, but remain faithful to the story and have a more musical feel of bands like Slade, Queen and T Rex. You won’t be humming these tunes afterwards, but they do create a nice nostalgic feel. I had to go home and listen to “The Elder” by KISS afterwards. The set design and costumes harken a bit to the 70’s feel but keep a very gothic presence. The cast is led by Billy Konsoer as Count Dracula (from last season's "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do") to nice effect. They were still working with sound the day I went but he carries a menacing look so much better than today’s ‘Twilight’ generation. The best roles however go to the wonderful Paul Harper as Van Helsing who just breathes life into the character and the forever sexy Katie Hardy as Lucy. Katie, who I have always thought of as attractive, is stunning here as redheaded Lucy and has the best musical number when after she is turned into a vampire chases little kids though the cemetery before being killed by Van Helsing and her lover. That sequence is worth the admission price alone. I haven’t said much about the plot, but I think we all know the story from watching the classic Bela Lugosi movie. We have some changes but it remains very faithful to the novel. The play only has one or two campy moments which detract a bit but I admire the ambitiousness of this production at Meadowbrook and recommend everyone to see it. It is a great swan song for my theatre going in Michigan and I have to give the play an A.
In a different vein is the Fisher Theatre production of “West Side Story”. The play got it’s start in 1957 with an Arthur Laurents script, Bernstein music and Sondheim lyrics. The plot was based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” though set in NYC and explores the rivalry between the two teen gangs, the Jets (white working-class boys) and the Sharks (Puerto Rican youth). Tony, a member of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. This love affair between the two climaxes in tragedy as a fight between the two gangs leaves death behind. In the score, we have such classics as “Maria”, “America” “I Feel Pretty” and the wonderfully madcap “Gee, Officer Krupke”. This version makes its debut in Detroit and Sondheim authorized translation of some parts of the show into Spanish for its Broadway revival which is used in this touring, which is the musical’s new standard version. I didn’t find the language distracting though my buddy did at times. We both felt that we didn’t remember the old productions or movie very well and felt the musical dragged a bit until it started to reach its climax. The show contains some great dance numbers and will most likely appeal to the typical theatre goers of the Fisher. I would’ve liked a bit more drama in some areas to really drive the cultural divide home, but that couldn’t stop me from humming “America” as I left the theatre. While not perfect, this production should attract happy theatre goers. My grade is a B-.
As I have to go to do some unpacking, I won’t have my typical concert list but will recommend the Wailin Jennys @ the Ark (Wed), Peelander-Z @ Lager House (Fri), Helmet @ Small’s (Sat), Blonde Redhead @ Magic Stick (Mon) and Ingrid Michaelson w/Guggenheim Grotto @ Crofoot (Mon).
Have a good week and you might hear from me again before the week is out.
Take care everyone!!