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Wednesday, August 12,2015

Where's the new stuff ?

Greater Lansing theater plays it safe — too safe

by Tom Helma
  Help! Has our theater community conspired together to bring back theater that has been done before — in some cases many times — for the 2015- 2016 season? On TV, they call them “re-runs.” On Broadway they are more sympathetic, calling them “revivals....
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Wednesday, July 29,2015

Curtain call: Bloody Sunday

Mysteries abound in Williamston Theatre’s latest production

by Tom Helma
A murder mystery, as everyone knows, is supposed to begin with a dark and stormy night. Seeing Williamston Theatre’s “The Art of Murder” at a Sunday matinee on a bright, sultry summer day, may not have helped its case, but a more fitting evening may not have been eno...
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Wednesday, July 15,2015

Burden of ‘Proof’

Over the Ledge kicks off summer season

by Tom Helma
Over the Ledge Theatre Co. opened its fourth season at the Ledges Playhouse with David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Proof.” The play is a tender love story that depicts the complexity of a relationship between a young woman and her father, a brilliant mathematician whose mental world is un raveling. Doak Bloss plays the father, Robert, who is present in act one as a ghost and in act two alive via flashbacks to four years earlier. Bloss combines a blustery, full-of-himself professional persona with moments when his character’s pomposity disappears into a confused —yet soulful — vulnerability. A monologue in which Robert spouts academic jargon peppered with observations that come with aging — and with the creeping sense that he has begun to lose his mind — is particularly poignant.
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Thursday, May 7,2015

Pratfalls and pirouettes

LCC students impress in ‘Impostures of Scapin’

by Tom Helma
A full moon rose on one of the first warm, late-April nights. Kathy and I were walking hand in hand on Grand Avenue, on our way to a curiosity. It was the culmination of Lansing Community College’s Theatre Studio II class in voice and movement, a stage play in the college’s Black Box performance space in the style of commedia dell’arte — a craft of improvisation which utilizes stylized movement and masked performers.
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Wednesday, April 8,2015

Curtain Call: As good as it gets?

‘Sirens’ takes a surrealistic look at mid-life crises

by Tom Helma
There comes a moment in a long-term relationship where a person can look back from whence they came and wonder what would have happened if he or she had pursued a different path. “Sirens,” at Williamston Theatre, sounds light-hearted warning bells for a settled-in couple when the nest has emptied, when the every ordinary days of life are droning endlessly on, when at least one member of the couple has lost their reason for living, their purpose in life, their very … song.
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Wednesday, March 25,2015

Curatin call: Beauty in simplicity

Nathan Dome and Sally Hecksel deliver pitch-perfect performances

by Tom Helma
Less is, indeed, sometimes more. In the canon of theater, there are large, block-buster mega-musicals, and then there are small minimusicals. ‘They’re Playing Our Song” is one of the latter. A mini-musical of a mere 11 songs, peppered, however, with some of the most witty dialogue that playwright Neil Simon has to offer.
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Wednesday, March 18,2015

Curtain call: Love for sale

‘The Garage Sale’ uses silly toys to deliver a serious message

by Tom Helma
We do not immediately think of a garage sale as a metaphor for the loss of love or the chance to find love a second time around. There may be many times in life when we experience rejection, get tossed aside unceremoniously or see someone we once loved walking away, but nothing is as terrible as feeling like a Raggedy Ann doll covered with peanut butter and tossed into the mud. Starlight Dinner Theatre’s “The Garage Sale,” written by local theater icon Jane Shipley Zussman, uses Rag Baby (a take on Raggedy Ann) and Tuxedo Teddy to tell stories of real-life loss and the strength people find to rise up from the depths of despair to love once again.
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Wednesday, February 11,2015

Curtain call: The joint is jumpin’

‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’ overcomes early difficulties to put on a rousing performance

by Tom Helma
Kudos to the brave soul was who climbed the precarious ladder up to Riverwalk Theatre’s sound booth to let sound technician Leon Greene know that the first six musical numbers of the Fats Waller musical revue were at an excruciating volume — even for this reviewer who is 90 percent deaf in one ear. Three people in the third row got up and left after two decibel-blasting numbers. Others were seen holding their hands up to their ears, an entirely new twist on blowing the audience away.
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Wednesday, January 14,2015

Intensity and intention

Riverwalk’s īThe Sea Gullī takes Chekhov out of Russia

by Tom Helma
Two gunmetal gray, stark cold cemetery benches flank the stage of Riverwalk Theatre, awaiting audience members who shuffle in from the gunmetal gray, stark cold Lansing winter. Welcome to Jean-Claude van Itallie’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “The Sea Gull.”
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Wednesday, November 12,2014

Curtain call: Engaging ‘View’

LCC wins with timeless love story

by Tom Helma
A bygone era shows up on the Dart Auditorium stage as director Andy Callis presents E.M Forster’s “A Room with a View,” adapted to the stage by Christina Calvit. Written in 1924, the novel was the last in Forster’s career and captured a sense of the slowly changing times, the soft-spoken yet still polite emergence of women’s voices in society.
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