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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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Wednesday, December 17,2014

History lesson

Wharton welcomes ‘Annie’ back for trip down memory lane

by Paul Wozniak
“Annie” is back, and it’s more than just overplayed hits. Part musical fantasy time capsule, part political commentary, the 37-year-old show feels strangely relevant in a post-recession world. More importantly, the freshly revived touring production is a polished machine designed to entertain.
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Wednesday, December 10,2014

‘Miracle’ workers

Williamston Theatre delivers near perfect holiday show

by Paul Wozniak
The antique furniture and appliances, non- English words in spoken English, the guilt, and the stubbornness should all be familiar to anyone who grew up in a working class, ethnicreligious home. Playwright Tom Dudzick nails the Polish-Catholic family in “Miracle on South Division Street,” which is no doubt transcribed from his own experience. In spite of its familiar character types and “traditional values”-themed story, Williamston Theatre’s production, directed by Rob Roznowski, feels refreshingly original.
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Wednesday, November 12,2014

Curtain call: Injustice league

Tragedy and musical collide in Peppermint Creek’s ‘Parade’

by Paul Wozniak
They say the suit makes the man. Peppermint Creek Theatre Co.’s latest production, “Parade,” tweaks that concept as “the music makes the show.” It’s a testament to director Jane Falion and her cast’s dedication that the story and characters resonate for the audience as much as composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown’s beautifully complex, multi-genre score does.
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Wednesday, October 22,2014

Comic con

Starlight opens its season with comical farce

by Paul Wozniak
Suspension of disbelief is critical to the comedy genre, where plot and the rules of reality are often discarded in service of a joke. That’s especially true Review for Starlight Dinner Theatre’s latest production, “What Is Susan’s Secret,” an “American farce” by Michael and Susan Parker riddled with plot holes and inconsistencies that boggle the mind. What the script lacks in a coherent story, however, it makes up for with the series of eccentric characters that the cast playfully brings to life.
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Wednesday, October 15,2014

Bloody good show

Classic horror movie ‘Carrie’ finds new life as Broadway-style musical

by Paul Wozniak
If you ever thought, “Hey, someone should adapt a Stephen King novel into a Broadway style musical,” look no further than the MSU Department of Theatre’s production of “Carrie the Musical.” Now you can experience King’s tragic tale of a bullied, telekinetic teen misfit who exacts brutal revenge on her tormentors through the magic of song and dance. Who said all the good ideas were taken?
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Wednesday, September 17,2014

Monster smash

Riverwalk season opener brings iconic Brooks comedy to electrifying life

by Paul Wozniak
It’s alive! In 2007, Mel Brooks gave his 1974 cinematic creation “Young Frankenstein” new life as a Broadway musical. Riverwalk Theatre’s production of that show works extremely hard to keep up with the monster of a Broadway spectacle, and overall successfully reanimates the playful spirit of the film — humps and all.
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Wednesday, September 3,2014

Monster season

2014-’15 Lansing theater goes from tap-dancing Frankenstein to fetish footwear

by Paul Wozniak
Like cars and clothes, the theater sees its fair share of retro. This year’s season of over 50 theater productions includes revivals of classic plays, fairy tales, book-to-stage, screen-to-stage adaptations and even one stage-to-screen production. Expect to see standards from playwrights like Chekhov, Shakespeare and Williams. But audiences looking for something new can expect multiple Michigan premieres, including at least three world premiere productions from local playwrights. And two appearances by Mary Shelley’s most famous creation prove you can’t keep a good monster down.
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