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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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Wednesday, October 29,2014

Smells like team ‘Spirit’

Supernatural comedy benefits from solid ensemble, classic script

by Tom Helma
It’s been 73 years since Noël Coward debuted his supernatural romantic comedy “Blithe Spirit.” In the years since, there have been multiple permutations, both on stage and in the movies, on the theme of one’s spouse coming back from the dead to haunt them. So the question is: Can a community theater bring an elderly stage play back to life, overcoming the notion that the theme has been done so many times that the original has entirely lost its luster? Yes, it can.
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Wednesday, October 15,2014

Final bow

Reflections on the memory of Lansing theater icon Addiann Hinds

by Tom Helma
Over the past several days since the mid- Michigan theater community learned of the death to cancer of beloved multi-talented icon, Addiann Hinds, there have been many quiet, reflective conversations remembering the breadth and depth of her contributions to local theater. An actor, a director, a set designer and more; her accomplishments listed on theater historian Matt Ottinger’s webpage include 11 stints as director and 12 as an actor.
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Friday, October 3,2014

Climb ev’ry mountain

REVIEW: “Annapurna” at Purple Rose Theatre

by Tom Helma
Friday, Oct. 3 — We don’t often think about it, but what do we do when a loved one from long ago — a previous mate, a once-upon-a-time lover, a log-ago marital partner, an ex-spouse — is dying? What if the relationship was tumultuous, dysfunctional, including elements of child abuse?
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Wednesday, August 13,2014

Viagra falls

Musical comedy ‘Married Alive!’ takes aim at life after ‘I do’

by Tom Helma
The 2014-‘15 theater season is off to an inauspicious beginning with "Married Alive," Over the Review Ledge Theater Co.’s lackluster midsummer musical. Before the show, director Rick Dethlefsen urged the audience to follow his mother’s advice: If they find themselves with nothing good to say after the performance, don’t say anything at all. On the other hand, my mom urged me to always tell the truth, so here goes.
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Wednesday, May 21,2014

Curtain call: Love in the (late) afternoon

Unstoppable middle-aged man meets unmovable middle-aged woman in Williamston’s ‘Old Love’

by Tom Helma
“Old Love” poses the question: Can two people in their late 50s find new love after the end of long, loveless marriages?
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