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Wednesday, October 9,2013

Existential matters

LCC’s ‘Agnes of God’ puts faith through the wringer

by Tom Helma
On a black box stage, less is more. Three shrouds of ghostly gauze with projected wrought-iron outlines of Review stained glass windows convey the sense of a cloistered convent. Two chairs are enough furniture for an entire play.
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Friday, October 4,2013

REVIEW: “The Vast Difference”

Purple Rose revives Jeff Daniels show for 20th anniversary

by Tom Helma
Friday, Oct. 4 — “The Vast Difference,” written by Michigan native (and recent Emmy Award-winner) Jeff Daniels, has been resurrected as a 20th anniversary piece at Daniels’ Chelsea performance space, the Purple Rose Theatre. The title is a play on “vas deferens,” which is the small tube that carries sperm to its ultimate destination in the male reproductive system. But this is more than a stage play about sperm. It is a comedic romp through the existential journey of what it means to be a real man, in both the post-WWII-era of larger-than-life, John Wayne-like heroes and in the ever-changing male-female dynamics of the feminist empowerment era.
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Wednesday, September 11,2013

Zombie be good

Over the Ledge show gets laughs with sci-fi parody

by Tom Helma
“Zombies from the Beyond” is a campy musical melodrama that pays homage to the cheesy science fiction black-and-white movies of the mid-‘50s. It’s a silly sendup, with elements of parody and nostalgia thrown into the mix, driven by solid singing, good acting and decent dancing.
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Wednesday, July 3,2013

And they call it puppy love ...

Purple Rose dramedy looks at an abbreviated love 30 years later

by Tom Helma
Wednesday, July 3 — Ever wonder what happened to the girl you loved when you were a teenager? Can we go home again and explore the road not taken? “Miles & Ellie,” playing at the Purple Rose Theatre Co., answers those questions.
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Friday, April 12,2013

Variations on a theme

by Tom Helma
Friday, April 12 — As we age, and physical deterioration sets in, there are intense urgent moments where we feel a need for answers to unresolved existential questions, to bring completion to important personal goals before we die.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Great expectations

Purple Rose's 'Couples' looks at a touchy topic in a touching way

by Tom Helma
“Some Couples May…” the latest social commentary stage play written by Carey Crim, addresses a specific demographic niche — young married couples experiencing the trauma of infertility. Now playing at the Purple Rose Theater, “Couples” takes the audience through the early moments of high expectations that couples have when first embracing the idea of pregnancy and parenthood, then through the heartbreak of hopelessness that ensues when nothing whatsoever happens.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Surrealistic sizzler

Hot-blooded 'Salvador Dali' ended the MSU theater season in style

by Tom Helma
The provocative title of “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot” opened a doorway to the most sizzling salsa sexuality on a live stage in a very long time. When was the last time you experienced observing a writhing female cat-woman in heat copulating with a coyote-man three inches away from your left shoe?
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Monday, March 18,2013

In the 'Boom'-boom room

A singles ad leads to apocalyptic troubles in a fine MSU Summer Circle Theatre comedy

by Tom Helma
Coming on the heels of what recently turned out to be the pseudo-Rapture, Michiagn State University invites Summer Circle Theatre patrons to imagine a psycho-apocalypse, with the production of “Boom,” Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s send-up of what might happen if the two people left in an underground bomb shelter laboratory to repopulate the world turn out to be cosmically incompatible.
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Monday, March 18,2013

From prophecy to reality

Purple Rose's 'White Buffalo' mixes domestic discord with the rhythms of the spirit world

by Tom Helma
Thursday, April 19 — The Purple Rose theater lights dim to a pitch-black dark. There is a moment of silence, followed by the sharp crack of a thunderbolt. Seconds later, strobe-lightning reveals movement: a writhing, convoluted Native-American ghost dance. It is the prophesied white buffalo, struggling to be born, an event that promises the end of wars, the beginning of an extended era of prosperity and peace.
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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Stark raving jealous

Shadows and whispers torture ‘Othello’ at Dart Auditorium

by Tom Helma
Tuesday, July 31 — The American Shakespeare Collective brings a slimmed down, fiercely focused adaptation of “Othello” to Lansing Community College that fills the expansive Dart Auditorium stage with a mere six actors playing multiple roles. The troupe serves up a powerful, bare-bones take on the greatest somebody-done-somebody-wrong story in all of drama.
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