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Wednesday, August 19,2015

'Elegies' in earnest

Song cycle makes for touching, unconventional theater

by Paul Wozniak
To really appreciate “Elegies,” Peppermint Creek Theatre Co.’s latest production, you have to take it on its terms. “Elegies” describes itself as a “song cycle,” not a musical. While “Elegies” is a collection of thematically relat...
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Wednesday, August 12,2015

X marks the spot

Renegade Theatre Festival expands offerings for its 10th year

by Paul Wozniak
The Renegade Theatre Festival is back for its 10th season. The annual festival, which takes over the storefronts and streets of Old Town for the weekend, has become like an family reunion for Lansing’s theater community. Over the course of three nights, patrons can sample over 30 pro...
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Wednesday, July 8,2015

Set and done

Bill Woodland reflects on nearly 50 years of theater work

by Paul Wozniak
William Woodland, Bill to his friends, is finally retiring from local theater — for real this time. Over a span of almost 50 years, the 80-yearold Lansing resident designed and built hundreds of sets for local theater productions by Lansing Civic Players, Starlight Dinner Theater and local high schools. Woodland’s contribution to local theater will be honored at Monday’s Pulsar Award ceremony.
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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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