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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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Wednesday, July 11,2012

At the peak of his powers

John Peakes makes a splash in 'On Golden Pond'

by Tom Helma
No question, Norman Thayer is at the heart of this play, the crusty and churlish curmudgeon with a hidden Review heart of pure gold.
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Wednesday, May 23,2012

Prophecy to reality

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

by Tom Helma
The Purple Rose theater lights go 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 beginning of an extended era of prosperity and peace.
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Wednesday, May 16,2012

Piano power

'Boogie Stomp!' rocks Stormfield Theatre

by Tom Helma
Mixing historic commentary with solos and duets that demonstrate a flexibility of flying fingers, Bob Baldori and Bob Seeley demonstrate a rapid-fire virtuoso versatility, moving effortlessly from one form of boogie-woogie to another. The “St Louis Blues,” played by Seeley, progresses through various incarnations, then Baldori adds a cover of an early Chuck Berry tune.
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Wednesday, May 9,2012

Explosive drama

Riverwalk's 'Copenhagen' presents a compelling meeting of the minds

by Tom Helma
In the spare spaces of the Riverwalk Theatre black box theater, Richard Frayn’s “Copenhagen” takes us back in time to the beginning of the nuclear age, to the scientists whose abstract theoretical formulations constituted the beginnings of quantum physics. The play focuses on the challenging and conflicted relationship between two of the most brilliant of physicists who first postulated the notion of splitting the atom.
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Wednesday, April 25,2012

Honors college

Michigan State University's sparkling 'Blonde' earns straight As

by Tom Helma
How does a musical that focuses on the stereotype of a blonde woman being a superficial airhead become a substantial piece of theater? In the case of Michigan State University’s production of “Legally Blonde,” simply by demonstrating the obvious: that while beauty might seem to be skin deep, intelligence is not.
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