South Florida Sun Sentinel from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on June 4, 1992 · Page 69
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South Florida Sun Sentinel from Fort Lauderdale, Florida · Page 69

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Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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Thursday, June 4, 1992
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Page 69
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Sun-Sentinel, Thursday, June 4, 1992 3E MLH 1 OLILJ B L2L5 I i 1BL JL.JL1L J g MUSIC REVIEW Ringo and friends share the spotlight By JOHN LANNERT Special to the Sun-Sentinel By Jove, Ringo Starr's jubilant jamboree Tuesday night at the Sunrise Musical Theatre was a wonderful wine spritzer of a concert light, lively and little aftertaste. Of course, there was little musical substance to this former Beatle's hoedown, save a hodgepodge of individual performances offered by the wingding's noted invitees, the justly named All-Starr Band. The leadoff gig of Starr's second solo tour in three years clearly was supposed to resemble a good-time, star-studded revue rather than an album supporting show. Each of Starr's seven marquee backing players took successful shots at impressing the enthusiastic packed house, most of whom were clean-cut Baby Boomers. Only Starr's son, Zak Starkey, who performed ably on drums, was relegated to full-time an-onimity throughout the show. Starr apart from performing a handful of Beatles' hits, 70s solo smashes and songs from his dreadful new album, Time Takes Time played the friendly emcee from a rear-stage drum kit next to his son's drum set. Wearing a crew cut, dark shades, and black shirt and pants, the always smiling Starr often rhetorically asked "How's my band?" before thrusting out his arms and flashing a playful two-fingered "peace and love" sign that oddly recalled Richard Nixon more often than a '60s rock refugee. Starr's position as a back-seat host in his own concert was well-taken, however. Though embraceable by dint of his typical self-effacing personality, Starr clearly was neither a commanding front man nor a particularly good singer. Indeed, the crowd's most heated response of the show came not after a Starr number, but when former Guess Who front man Burton Cummings finished belting out a blistering version of Guess Who's snarling 1970 chart-topper American Woman. Nevertheless, Starr's two-hour show was entertaining because he allowed himself to be a significant part, not an all-consuming center, of a crisply paced musical variety happening. And certainly no music enthusiast could grouse about seeing Starr's backing lineup of Joe Walsh, Nils Lofgren (both . holdovers from Starr's 1989 jaunt), Todd Rundgren, Timothy B. Schmit, Cummings, Dave Edmunds and reedsman supreme Tim Cappello. Memorable high points abounded during ; the set, ranging from Cummings' peppy treatment of Guess Who's woman be-gone hit JVo Time, to Schmit's still-aching take of J Can't Tell You Why, a monster 70s ballad for Schmit's old band the Eagles. Walsh, another former Eagle, chipped in several crowd-pleasing Eagles' favorites while Lofgren performed Shining Silently, a spunky radio hit-in-waiting that he premiered during Starr's '89 trek. The pint-sized Lofgren also served as the band's musical director and principal soloist, both of which he handled with characteristic aplomb. While Rundgren could have brought the vocal throng to its knees with evergreens such as Hello It's Me or We Gotta Get You a Woman, the ultra-talented songwriterproducer still satisfied mightily with lesser-known numbers Bang the Drum All Day and Black Maria. m Edmunds nearly did bring the theater down with a grinding treatment of his 1970 classic Hear You Knocking. The animated Cappello added spirited saxophone runs, plus an ear-opening, funk-laced instrumental jam. And Starr? Well, the ringleader neatly spliced in crowd-pleasing favorites (You're Sixteen, Yellow Submarine) during the show, yet did not assume center stage until toward the end when he performed Photograph, along with encore numbers Act Naturally and (appropriately) With a Little Help From My Friends. . Undoubtedly, if this least-talented Beatle were not a former member of the Fab Four, his All-Starr jaunt would have been a mere fantasy. But the happy reality is that Starr is a former Beatle who is just having a little fun with his friends and his fans. John Lannert is Billboard 's Caribbean Latin American Bureau Chief and covers pop music and comedy for the Sun-Sentinel. TODAY'S MAIN EVENTS Music THE CURE Is booked to rock at 7:30 p.m. at Miami Arena, 721 NW First Ave. Tickets are $22.50. Call Ticketmaster, 966-3309 (Palm Beach), 523-3309 (Broward), 358-5885 (Dade). MUSICIANS EXCHANGE 16TH BIRTHDAY PARTY, featuring Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers, the Back Doors, the Groove Thangs and others, is scheduled to kick off at 9 p.m. at the cafe, 729 W. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $9 and $11. Call 764-1912 Broward, 944-2627 Dade or Ticketmaster. Theater THE WALLS DON'T TALK TO ME ANYMORE, winner of the Anne White Theatre Eighth Annual New Playwright Competition, is scheduled to open at 8 p.m. at Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $15, $12.50 and $10. Call 1-305-721-9411, 1-305-752-1718. FRIDAY IN SHOWTIME . Sold out shortly after going on sale in February right after the Winter Olympics this Saturday's Tour of World Figure Skating Champions at Miami Arena is reaping the rewards of all that dramatic TV coverage, entertainment writer Deborah Wilker reports. Networks force series showdowns ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox have finished retooling their schedules for the fall. Each network believes that what it has done is to its maximum advantage. Whether it is good for you, too, is another matter. Each year at this time, loyal viewers of certain series come to realize that their favorite has been shifted to a new night or time period that will put it into conflict with another regular viewing choice. This inevitably triggers what is known among TV writers as "Why Did They Do That?" syndrome. The big winner of this year's "Why Did They Do That?" Award is ABC's decision to move Home Improvement from Tuesday at 8:30 to Wednesday at 9, where it will now be directly opposite Seinfeld. This is the most intriguing showdown since Fox sicked The Simpsons on Cosby. During the recently concluded season, Home Improvement was the fifth most popular series on TV and the highest ranked member of the freshmen class. Seinfeld ranked only 43rd, but this is misleading. Seinfeld has been building momentum and now regularly wins the time period where the battle will take place. What's more, Seinfeld wasn't born with the silver spoon Home Improve- TOM JICHA TV Radio Writer ment inherited, a can't miss berth between Full House and Roseanne. In the same slot, Seinfeld probably would have been a Top 10 show. The solution to such conflicts for viewers is to watch one show and tape the other. In this instance, even this could be insufficient, since CBS has scheduled its NBC acquisition In the Heat of the Night, a solid ratings generator on Wednesday night at 9, too. Just for good measure, Fox's most prized rookie, the Beverly Hills 90210 spinoff Melrose Place, also will air on Wednesday at 9 p.m. Coveted Wednesday To answer the question of the day, the networks did this because Wednesday is prime-time's most contested battleground. CBS owns Sunday and Monday; ABC has a stranglehold on Tuesday and Friday; even without Cosby, NBC retains the most powerful hand on Thursday and might still eke out a win on Saturday, although viewing levels are so low, who wins is no longer that important. A strong Wednesday could tilt the close network competition toward the winner. Meanwhile, Fox, which is trying to establish a presence on a night it hasn't previously programmed, is forced to fire potent ammunition just to stay viable. The situation likely to produce the second-most "Why Did They Do That?" inquiries is ABC's relocation of Homefront to Thursday night at 9, where it will bump heads with Cheers and BH 90210. The explanation here is simpler. ABC doesn't expect to win, but the feeling is the combination of old age and the loss of Cosby as part of its lead-in could make Cheers somewhat vulnerable. Homefront demonstrated when it relocated from Tuesday to Wednesday and back this season that its audience is mobile. It's noteworthy that ABC is also using prized rookie Delta and promising sophomore Room for Two to begin to rebuild Thursday. Fans of two established hits on CBS will have to rearrange their viewing habits come fall. Major Dad and Designing Women have been exiled from Monday to Friday, where they will air back-to-back, starting at 8:30 p.m. CBS' strategy is to use these series as anchors in a bid to build an adult base on a night ruled by ABC's kiddie-corns. The retitled Golden Girls, now called The Golden Palace, will provide a familiar opening salvo to Friday and comfortable old Bob Newhart will be back in a new 9:30 series. Moreover, the new drama held in highest esteem by CBS, Picket Fences, will close the night. Alas, Picket Fences, which supposedly is a class act, will be opposite the unquestioned quality show of this season's freshmen class, I'll Fly Away, which is finally in the 10 p.m. time period it should have had since its inception. Speaking of class acts, one final "Why Did They Do That?" also has a simple, if troubling answer. Brooklyn Bridge will open next fall on Saturday 'night at 8:30 amid an otherwise all-new lineup. CBS is doing exactly what ABC did to Twin Peaks a couple of seasons ago. Rather than face a firestorm of protests by canceling the tender family comedy, the network has moved it to Saturday, where it will effectively disappear. By the time the official cancellation notice is issued, people will have gotten out of the Brooklyn Bridge habit and the uproar will be muted. ; 'Les Miserables' at Broward Center By JACK ZINK Theater Writer Les Miserables was the first super-sensational pop opera and, in most respects, is still the best. The touring company at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts now one of many American companies shows why. The current edition is not the three-hanky tear-jerker it can be, nor even the two-hanky version it should be. But most people will need a tissue along the way, which can be used after the comic relief as well as the sad ballads. Les Mix also has staying power, thanks to the classic novel by Victor Hugo on which it is based and to the throbbing combination of Claude-Michel Schon-berg's music and Herbert Kretzmer's lyrics. First presented as a concert in 1979 and transformed to a musical in '85, it told a classic story in epic fashion and put some meaningful distance between itself and previous rock operas. The score particularly and the show's operatic pretenses sent serious music fans into a rage, but the emotional power is undeniable. Les Miz is the paradigm of the form. . . . - The musical themes are really few. Each principal character has his or her own musical identity (as do some situations), repeated throughout the show with only superficial variations. Though still damned by purists, it is a tactic that fits the style of Hugo's novel, which deals relentlessly in the blacks, whites and primary colors of human behavior. The music's simplicity caters to audiences weaned on 16-bar song stylings from congregational hymnals to the Top 40. The present cast of tes Miz is entirely in good voice, and seamless in its ensemble acting. Dave Clemmons gives a solid, heartfelt portrayal in the lead role as Jean Valjean. It is the type of performance that holds together rather than carries the show. His singing is usually of a light, tenor quality that reflects the character's gentle spirit, although he can raise the pressure instantly when needed. Bring Him Home, the difficult ballad by Valjean sung partly in falsetto, gets a wide-ranging treatment from Clemmons that darkens its corners while burnishing the power passages. The story takes place in France during a chaotic era well after the country's revolution. Paroled after 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread, Valjean is dogged by a self-righteous detective who wants to throw him back in prison for the slightest trip-up. Valjean's is a panoramic tale that continually brushes against the rotting underbelly of society. As such, it's a great yarn that's too big for a traditional musical to contain. This ensemble's vocal standouts are Chuck Wagner as the hard-bitten police inspector Javert, who spends a lifetime hunting Valjean, and Candese Mar-chese as the waif ish Eponine. Wagner nearly stops y Mr- , - St v Dave Clemmons, left, as Jean Valjean is confronted by Chuck Wagner, as inspector Javert. the show with his two (musically related) solos, Stars and the tragic Soliloquy. Marchese pulls at the heartstrings with the tender On My Own. Jill Geddes is the doomed mother Fantine, whose J Dreamed a Dream is a touching document. Tamra Hayden and Ron Sharpe are the classic lovers of Act 2, and Christopher Yates brings a sense of nobility to the role of Enjolras, leader of a student revolution. Associate director Richard Jay Alexander appears to have imposed a traditional formula for lyrical delivery in order for them to dramatize their songs individually. Nearly every major tune, especially the solos, is given a distinct vocal contour that starts very delicately (not soft), builds slowly at first then accelerates to a peak of volume and emotion. Afterward, there is a gentle slide back to that porcelainlike showcase style of the opening bars. Sets, costumes, lighting and special effects are first-rate, delivering gobs of spectacle and thrills. Les Miz continues to look as big as it sounds, the latter courtesy of conductor Robert S. Gustafson. His . musicians execute crisply, yet keep the musical THEATER REVIEW Les Miserables Operatic musical based on the novel by Victor Hugo. Curtain 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays and 2 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through June 13 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $21.50 to $42.50. Call 462-0222 Broward or Ticketmaster, 966-3309 (Palm Beach), 523-3309 (Broward), 358-5885 (Dade) . Balcony seats still available, and some returns are resold daily. moods pliable. ; It is a big pit orchestra heavy on horns and woodwinds. The seething violins and violas are all products of synthesizers that I object to philosophically, but which are consistently effective. j Stations take little risk with song selection Maybe nobody else thinks about these things, but I do. A couple of months ago, I was in Tampa for a few days and kept hearing a catchy tune on the radio. I looked forward to hearing it here. No luck. I started wondering if record companies pick markets to test tunes, the way McDonald's does with pizza or those hot dog nuggets. Finally, I heard it a couple of weeks ago on West Palm Beach-based WRMF (FM 97.9), but no where else. So I called the station to find out how stations decide what songs they're going to play. The process is a mixture of sophisticated surveying, industry research and gut instinct. But don't expect to find anything on the cutting edge, unless it's on a non-commercial station such as WKPX (FM 88.5). Radio is big business, without a lot of room for, or interest in, risk-taking. "We put the names and titles up on this blackboard and throw little darts at them," joked Russ Morley, program director at WRMF. The adult contemporary station gets 15 to 20 CDs a week to hsten to, and PAT CURRY On Radio will pick two or three tunes to put on the air, Morley said. Decisions are made at a weekly music meeting when Morley, music director Mary Franco and assistant music director Simone Collins sit down with trade magazines to see how songs are doing in other markets, take a listen and see if a tune matches their format. If they can't decide, they'll collect about 15 station staffers of different ages and with varying musical tastes, and they vote. Once a tune is on the air, the station tracks listener response. Mariah Carey's Make It Happen got knocked off WRMF because listeners complained it was too rowdy, Morley said. They went nuts over Jon Secada's single Just Another Day, and it's now in a power rotation. Then there's this thing called call-out research, where a company in Kansas calls demographically correct locals and asks them to rate snippets of songs the station's playing. WRMF spends about $30,000 a year to have that done every couple of weeks, Morley said. About twice a year, they do the same thing in an auditorium and pay people to rate about 150 songs. And that's in the West Palm-Boca Raton market, No. 49 on the Arbitron market charts. In the bigger Miami-Fort Lauderdale market, country station KISS-FM (WKIS, FM 99.9) also spends a considerable amount of money researching its listening audience to chart the direction of the station, although program director Bob McKay said he'd rather not pass along the details of the system. He puts together a weekly music list with music director Jean Cashman every Monday based on the songs that come in for consideration. He doesn't track how songs are doing in other markets; if a song reaches a certain; level on national charts, he'll consider playing it on KISS, if it's compatible' with the station's overall sound. At FOXY 1040 (WYFX, AM 1040), the process is simpler. Program and music director Mike James looks at. the trades, listens to what people are playing in nightclubs and record stores, sees who is going to which con-,' certs and remembers what people re-; quest at remote broadcasts. He's thinking about his audience of 30- to 60-year-old black adults. Monday is music day at the station,; when James and his assistant pick new songs to go into rotation and pull those that are not doing well. "Tuesday is when record company representatives call and get the verdict and try to convince me for the, next week." Springsteen live ; ZETA 4 (FM 94.9 WZTA) will broad- cast Bruce Springsteen live from Hollywood, Calif., at 10 p.m. Friday.-The broadcast is the band's final dress rehearsal before starting its 1992-93 world tour this month in Stockholm, Sweden.

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