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Wednesday, June 3,2015

Curatin Call: Escalation game

‘Best of Friends’ serves up cold revenge

by Paul Wozniak
Imagine a world where people assumed the worst intentions of others and acted on their basest instincts. Welcome to “Best of Friends,” a dark comedy from the twisted mind of Jeff Daniels (yes, that Jeff Daniels). Inspired by Yasmina Reza’s “God of Carnage,” “Best of Friends” centers on a dispute between two adult couples. In “Carnage,” the couples argue about the civility of their respective children. In “Best of Friends,” the couples are the children, treating every perceived offense as grounds for vengeance.
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Wednesday, May 6,2015

Submissive staging

Peppermint Creek brings erotic comedy to mid-Michigan

by Paul Wozniak
David Ives’ intimate and erotic dramatic comedy, “Venus in Fur,” makes its mid-Michigan premiere this weekend at Peppermint Creek Theatre Co. For director Rob Roznowski, head of acting and directing in Michigan State University’s Department of Theatre, part of the fun came from exploring the two-person show’s concepts in a “non-academic” environment.
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Wednesday, April 8,2015

Curtain Call: Music of the night

Revamped ‘Phantom’ big on spectacle but doesn’t skimp on content

by Paul Wozniak
“The Phantom of the Opera” is here. Ok, it’s “Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’” Review but not to worry — the touring production running at the Wharton Center is still “The Phantom.” The songs and story are the same, but reinvented sets and staging breathe new life into this pop-Broadway juggernaut by emphasizing character over opulent spectacle.
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Wednesday, April 1,2015

Curtain call: Itching for more

MSU’s ‘Bug’ is a mind-bending journey

by Paul Wozniak
Did you hear that? It sounds like the smoke detector. Or maybe it’s a hive of bugs hiding in your walls. MSU Department of Theatre’s production of Tracy Letts’ “Bug” never answers the question, but it does toy with your brain for two intense hours. To be ...
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Wednesday, March 25,2015

Curtain call: Soviet kitsch

Riverwalk Theatre brings a comedic take on a Chekhov classic

by Paul Wozniak
One does not need to be a Chekhov scholar to enjoy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” playing at Riverwalk Theatre, but a stomach for playwright Christopher Durang’s broad humor is essential. Fortunately, director Mary Job and much of the cast work hard to ground Durang’s dialogue in honest emotions and make the best of the inconsistently funny material.
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Wednesday, March 4,2015

Curtain call: Laughter with a bite

‘The Little Dog Laughed’ will make you laugh a lot

by Paul Wozniak
To be clear, “The Little Dog Laughed,” running in Riverwalk Theatre’s black box space, is not a Midwestern Review story. There are no heartland values in this stinging satire of Hollywood’s sexual mores. But for those willing to take the leap, Douglas Carter Beane’s script is witty, hilarious and brutally honest.
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Wednesday, February 4,2015

Curtain call: No drama

Inspired acting can’t save the aimless ‘Theatre2Film’ project

by Paul Wozniak
Undoubtedly, MSU’s “Theatre2Film Project” is an invaluable experience, giving students the freedom to write and perform their own Review work on stage and eventually on film. Audiences get an opportunity to see the “Theatre” part of the creative process, but unfortunately the production gives little insight into what the “2Film” process might be.
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Wednesday, January 28,2015

Curtain call: Magic shows and miracles

‘Pippin’ revival wraps a message of simplicity in three-ring spectacle

by Paul Wozniak
Part of “Pippin’s” lasting appeal is its sense of defiance. The story defies convention and expectations, and this latest circus-inspired production frequently defies gravity. The cost for audiences is the almost three-hour run time and surprisingly sluggish first act. But the emotional punch at the end and incredible choreography throughout are worth the wait.
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Wednesday, January 21,2015

Rent to own

Williamston Theatre finalizes purchase of its downtown space

by Paul Wozniak
It’s official. On Dec. 30, Williamston Theatre purchased the building it has called its home since 2006. Located at 122 S. Putnam Street in downtown Williamston, the 5,000-square-foot, century-old building houses Williamston Theatre’s rehearsal and performance space as well as offices. The theater company is confidently moving into its 10th season, now as theater owners.
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Wednesday, December 31,2014

Best performances of 2014

by Paul Wozniak
Michael Hays in “Twelve Angry Men,” Riverwalk Theatre As Juror #3, Hays was a world-class villain. He prowled the stage like a sentinel hound ready to pounce on any dissenting opinion, and used his intimidating stature to full effect. He stared daggers across the room and — at one point — wielded one with palpable menace.
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