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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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Monday, March 18,2013

Talking with Michelle Meredith

The actress and MSU graduate makes her Williamston Theatre debut in 'Eleemosynary' this week

by Paul Wozniak
With the maturity that Michelle Meredith displays in every role she plays, one could easily assume she is older than 22. Virtually typecast as mothers and grandmothers, Meredith is a graduate of Michigan State University; she performed alongside Carmen Decker in “Kimberly Akimbo” at Stormfield Theater earlier this year. She makes her Williamston Theatre debut this week in “Eleemosynary,” her second collaboration with director Lynn Lammers.
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Monday, March 18,2013

A shout-out to the '70s

With the priceless Leslie Hull leading the way, 'Gemini' finds high-decibel fun in Philly

by Paul Wozniak
Friday, June 10 — Albert Innaurato’s personalized tragic-comedy ‘Gemini’ plays out in Italian-dominated South Philadelphia (although it could easily be transferred to Boston, the Bronx, Brooklyn or parts of New Jersey). With dialogue mostly shouted and all the physicality essential to Italian speech, “Gemini” is the ideal kick-off production for Michigan State University’s Summer Circle Theatre season: loud, sometimes poignant and very funny.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Theater community comes together to remember Tori Croff

A memorial service for the 8-year-old was held today at Olivet Baptist Church

by Paul Wozniak
Thursday, June 23 — A week and a half ago, members of the Lansing theater community gathered to celebrate the best in local theater at the annual Pulsar awards ceremony. On Thursday, many of those same people came together again, this time under somber circumstances.
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Monday, March 18,2013

'Fantasticks' retains its magic at Summer Circle Theatre

Director Jane Falion brings a modern touch to the classic musical

by Paul Wozniak
Friday, June 24 — Almost as ubiquitous as "Our Town" on community and regional stages, "The Fantasticks" explores similarly timeless themes — and requires only the simplest of staging. With words and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, "Fantasticks" cleverly blends sentimental life lessons with satirical jabs at its own genre.
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