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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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Wednesday, August 20,2014

2014 Pulsar winners

Standing ovation for Beachler at interactive annual theater awards

by Paul Wozniak
The 2014 City Pulse Pulsars, recognizing the best in Lansing theater, were handed out Monday night at Over the Ledge Theatre in Grand Ledge. Kelly Stuible and Veronica Gracia- Wing hosted the evening’s festivities. Instead of scheduled presenters and entertainers, Stuible and Gracia-Wing invited audience members to read the nominees and winners from the screen. Winners in “musical” categories were asked to sing for their award.
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Wednesday, June 25,2014

The professionals

MSU Department of Theatre alumni revisit the boards of their youth

by Paul Wozniak
Kurt Vonnegut once said that true terror is to wake up and realize your high school class is running the country. But what about realizing your college chums are the ones pulling strings in the entertainment world? For some Michigan State University graduates, last weekend was a chance to see just how far a formal theater education got their old classmates — and collectively rub it in the faces of well-meaning relatives who may have suggested somewhere along the line, “Why don’t you major in business instead?”
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