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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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Wednesday, March 13,2013

'Superior' performance

Purple Rose show dissects the American Dream

by Tom Helma
Monday, Oct. 8 — Far from the Miracle Mile, the down-and-out, hole-in-the-wall diner of Purple Rose Theater’s “Superior Donuts” is set in a Chicago ghetto. There is no beginning, no end in this slice-of-life play, yet it brings together an immigrant history, stories of generations past and the complexity of America, not always so beautiful.
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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Dark triumph

MSU Opera Theatre’s experimental hybrid packs a powerful punch

by Tom Helma
Tuesday, Oct. 23 — Is it opera or theater? MSU’s production of “Kurt Weill: 2012 But the Days Grow Short … ” is both — the equivalent of two one-act pieces of musical theater joined at the hip. However this is not what you might remember as your grandpapa’s Italianate melodrama.
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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Titus Audacious

Violent Shakespearean drama paralyzes and illuminates

by Tom Helma
Monday, Dec. 10 — Plopped in the middle of the holiday heartstring-plucking season, Lansing Community College’s production of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” reminds us that outside the comfort zone of our easy denials, there are still wars going on, innocent people dying and children with not a single parent to wish them a merry Christmas, let alone buy them a cheap toy.
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Wednesday, March 13,2013

'Savage'-ly funny

Vaudevillian humor elevates genteel comedy

by Tom Helma
A curiosity, indeed, is Ethel Savage, a wealthy widow who wants to donate her late husband's millions to charity rather than to her three cranky, selfish, ne'er-do-well adult stepchildren. "The Curious Savage" is a perfect fit for the elder madams of the Red Hat Society and the rest of the senior ilk that is Starlight Theatre's target audience.
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Wednesday, February 6,2013

'Days' to remember

Williamston show examines eccentric post-9/11 nuclear family

by Tom Helma
How do we respond, how do we recover from a national trauma? "End Days," now playing at the Williamston Theater, shows the unfolding impact of the 9/11 experience on a nuclear family. Although there may very well be 10,000 aftermath stories of that fateful September day, this story is more than just another one.
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Wednesday, September 19,2012

Death becomes her

Star wattage lights up dark comedy, 'Vigil'

by Tom Helma
What exactly does a man say to a barely recognizable family member he hasn't seen in 30 years, and what if she's not as close to death as he was led to believe? Morris Panych, the playwright behind Lansing Community College's production of "Vigil," explores this dark little corner of family decorum, taking the audience through a macabre process that is enlightening, comedic and poignant to the end.
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Wednesday, August 8,2012

Hitchcock farce beats the heat

Frenzied quick-change extravaganza sets Grand Ledge stage on fire

by Tom Helma
For those of us who have vague recollections of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock movie "The 39 Steps," rest assured that this is not a stage version of that movie.
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