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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 NoŽl 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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Wednesday, May 14,2014

Curtain call: Sisters act

Starlight’s ‘Nunsense’ musical gets surreal

by Tom Helma
The sisters in Starlight Dinner Theatre’s “Nunsense: The Mega Musical” are a far cry from the stiff-upper-lipped guardians of one’s soul in traditional depictions. This enthusiastic ensemble has reasonably good singing voices — and in the case of Sister Robert Ann, played by Amanda Dill, serious comedic acting chops as well.
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Wednesday, April 2,2014

Curtain Call: Tryst of fate

Williamston’s latest gets hot and heavy in searing romantic comedy

by Tom Helma
In this era of casual sex where people seek comfort in anonymous hookups, you might sleep with someone before you know his or her last name. But who falls deeply in love immediately after a first tryst? “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune,” playing through April 19 at Williamston Theatre, explores that possibility.
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Wednesday, March 5,2014

Living ‘Color’

Riverwalk show depicts early American movement to advance freed slaves

by Tom Helma
History is sometimes a strange stew of colliding ideas that can form the foundation for a highly entertaining story, as is the case with Riverwalk Theatre’s production of “Free Man of Color.”
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Friday, February 21,2014

REVIEW: Into the woods

A pair of lost souls search for hidden truths in Purple Rose drama

by Tom Helma
Friday, Feb. 21 — Contrary to the eloquently expressed opinion of William Shakespeare, all the world is not a stage. Lanford Wilson’s script for “Redwood Curtain,” playing through March 15 at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, suggests that it is possible for people to step away from the fury of the madding crowd, to seek solitude and serenity in the quiet, stately forests of the Pacific Northwest.
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Wednesday, February 12,2014

Way of the Midwest

Riverwalk takes to the open road with humor, nostalgia

by Tom Helma
At first glance this is a simple nostalgia story, but wait. ”Leaving Iowa,” running through Sunday at Riverwalk Theatre, invites us back to be lost in the ‘70’s, where roadside attractions were advertised on highway billboards, Dad was king of the road and Mom’s role was simply to say “yes, dear.”
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