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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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Wednesday, March 7,2012

Slam-dunk

Jerry and Isaac Sprague score in a double feature

by Tom Helma
In “Two Beers and a Hook Shot,” we have serious relationship drama presented in a naturalistic style: dark, painful-to-experience material. This is a play about the challenge in a father-son relationship to transcend past sins, to overcome sufferings and a raging emptiness, and to transform hatred to love through the magic of basketball.
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Wednesday, March 7,2012

'Cat' on the prowl at LCC

by Tom Helma
Keller, who is directing Lansing Community College Theatre’s “Cat on A Hot Tin Roof,” is all noisy nouns and arresting adjectives, punching out her words — “muscularity,” “centeredness,” “fragility,” “desire” — and suggesting that for this play to be done well, the actors must “fight” for the reality of the moment.
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Wednesday, February 15,2012

Stages of the heart

Six actors serve up 20 varieties of love at LCC

by Tom Helma
Up close and personal, in your face and immediate—the Black Box stage at Lansing Community college, one of the most intimate theater spaces in town, is the perfect venue for a tender play about love and its eccentricities over time.
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Wednesday, February 1,2012

Stunning 'Stone'

Purple Rose Theatre drama is a solid triumph

by Tom Helma
It takes a singer with a great voice to bring out the complexities of a well-composed opera. Likewise, it takes an actor with great range to project the nuances of a well-written script.
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