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Wednesday, August 21,2013

Corn's ready, music's ripe

Mason’s ‘Song of the Summer’ is the Sun Dried Music Festival

by Paul Wozniak
Surrounded by cornfields, with a population under 9,000, Mason is not a metropolis. But the Ingham County seat’s annual homegrown “Sun Dried Music Festival” is turning this sleepy town into an end-of-summer attraction.
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Wednesday, August 14,2013

Renegade upgrade

Theater festival back with new features

by Paul Wozniak
Lansing’s Old Town district transforms into a giant stage this weekend at the 8th Annual Renegade Theatre Festival. Actually, it’s more like 11 stages, featuring classic and new works from nearly every theater company in town, along with music performances and storytelling events, but who’s counting.
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Wednesday, August 7,2013

Odd 'Duck'

Performances shine through off-kilter Mitch Albom script

by Paul Wozniak
Over the Ledge Theatre Co.’s production of Mitch Albom’s “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” is A.) a caricature of Southern stereotypes; B.) a multi-pronged tragic-comedy with pseudo-“Twilight Zone” plot twists; or C.) an oversimplified commentary on racial/cultural relations.
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Wednesday, July 3,2013

A hundred years of invisibility

Making a living in show business 'in the middle of the cornfields'

by Paul Wozniak
he Wharton Center stage teemed with people and activity Saturday night, but the plush red seats in the audience sat empty. Banquet tables loaded with freshly grilled steaks and ribs, poster boards covered in photos and a light splash on the floor were not aspects of an elaborate touring Broadway production.
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Wednesday, June 5,2013

Swann song

Riverwalk closes season with musical comedy adaptation

by Paul Wozniak
In live TV of the 1950s, you had one chance to get it right; blow that entrance, line or dance step, and millions of viewers witnessed your screw-up. The same is true, of course, of live theater and Riverwalk Theatre's "My Favorite Year," a musical set in the salad days of television, too often demonstrates the pitfalls of minimal preparation.
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Wednesday, May 15,2013

Black 'Beauty'

Irish comedy crackles with dark charm

by Paul Wozniak
It feels twisted that "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" opened Mother's Day weekend. Martin McDonagh's darkly comic play is an unsparing portrait of a severely dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship perfect for Riverwalk Theatre's blackbox — just not for mothers.
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Wednesday, April 3,2013

Williamston's funny 'Valentine'

Funny, poignant look at middle age grounded in sincerity

by Paul Wozniak
Meet Shirley Valentine: a middle-aged wife, mother and genre trope who learns to love herself on an excursion to a foreign country. She sometimes speaks in rhetorical Oprah-isms, such as, "You don’t start again at 46, do you?"
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Monday, March 18,2013

Murphy's laws

'Distracted' star shares her thoughts on theater and the inspiration of Gilda Radner

by Paul Wozniak
Abby Murphy has performed in over 50 theater productions in Lansing, from studio shows at Lansing Community College to the Peppermint Creek Theatre Co. main stage. Audiences may remember her as Elizabeth Bennett in Lansing Community College’s “Pride and Prejudice,” Salome in LCC’s “Salome” and, more recently, as Ophelia in Riverwalk’s “Fortinbras.” She has worked under notable local directors such as Mary Job, Lela Ivey and Kristine Thatcher. Currently, Murphy plays the mother of a child diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder in the Peppermint Creek production “Distracted,” directed by Lynn Lammers.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Getting the most out of 'Grapes'

Michigan State University director Ann Folino White discusses her techniques of working with actors and the importance of dramaturgy

by Paul Wozniak
It’s the largest cast she has ever directed. However, Ann Folino White is confident that her cast of 40 actors and musicians in “The Grapes of Wrath” is ready for an audience. It certainly helps that her period of expertise is performance during the Great Depression. From new script reader for the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago to actor to dramaturge and director at Michigan State University, Folino White has extensive experience on and off the stage. Folino White spoke this week about the challenges of directing a show like “The Grapes of Wrath” at the collegiate level, the skills she teaches her students, and how her actor training and scholarly passion inform her directing style.
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Monday, March 18,2013

MSU welcomes 'Dali'; Ruhala hosts 'Clownin''

Surrealism and spur-of-the-moment improvisation are on view at area theaters

by Paul Wozniak
Josť Rivera’s “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot” is not the bawdy comedy its title seems to imply. It is, according to director and Michigan State University Theatre Professor Melissa C. Thomson, an “intense and passionate” piece for those open to a non-traditional theater experience.
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