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Wednesday, June 8,2011

Die laughing

A cast of crazed kooks energizes Riverwalk’s loony ’Musical Comedy Murders of 1940’

by Tom Helma
Riverwalk veteran Joe Dickson, as down-on-his luck stand-up comedian Eddie McCuen, ultimately wins the contest for most intensely agitated actor on stage, but Bob Murrell and Sarah Sonnenberg, as musical writers Roger Hopewell and BernIce Roth, run a close second and third.
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Wednesday, May 18,2011

These 'Guys' don’t pay off

Spotty musical comedy won't rock anyone's boat

by Tom Helma
It’s always just a little odd when people writing for Broadway transform gritty, venial life stories into happy-go-lucky, salt-of-the-earth, charmingas-all-get-out-musicals.
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Wednesday, May 18,2011

'Zoo' times two

Riverwalk’s excellent Albee double feature is splendidly played

by Tom Helma
A Here’s a challenging and convoluted notion: Write a one-act play, and then 45 years later write a prequel that helps explain the motivation of one of the central characters.
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Wednesday, April 27,2011

Great expectations

Purple Rose’s ’Some Couples May...’ takes on a touchy topic with sensitivity, humor and convincing performances

by Tom Helma
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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Tuesday, March 29,2011

Starlight shines

A success is announced: 'Murder' is fast-paced and enjoyably played

by Tom Helma
Return with us now to those thrilling moments of yesteryear — no, it is not the Green Hornet and not the Lone Ranger either, but rather Miss Marple of Agatha Christie fame, as presented in the Starlight Dinner Theater's production of “A Murder is Announced.” While ...
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Thursday, February 24,2011

'The Wizard of Oz': Ding! Dong! The show is dead

MSU musical has technological magic, but is sorely lacking in charm

by Tom Helma
While scenic designer G. Max Maxin has thrown tons of technological video graphic wizardry at the audience in the Michigan State University Theatre production — a spectacular unfolding of everything plus the kitchen sink that a scene designer can do...
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Tuesday, February 1,2011

The Case of the Redeemed Hitman

True love blooms between gun battles in Purple Rose's 'Corktown'

by Tom Helma
CHELSEA — At first squint and frown, “Corktown,” now playing at the Purple Rose Theater, appears to be nothing more than the latest incarnation of the hit-man-with-a-heart-of-gold genre popularized in crime novels by Elmore Leonard, on the big screen by “Pulp Fiction,” and on HBO by “The Sopranos.”
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Wednesday, January 26,2011

Lost in translation

Holt-Dimondale's stab at Italian-American farce is about as authentic as Chef Boyardee

by Tom Helma
In Joe Di Pietro’s "Over the River and Through the Woods" ' now being performed by the still new kids-on-the-block, Holt Dimondale Community Players ' we’re going to an Italian-American grandmother’s household in Brooklyn..
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Wednesday, November 10,2010

’View’ remains crystal-clear

Strong acting illuminates shattering 1950s drama

by Tom Helma
Those who watched TV in the 1950s memorized the phrase, “There are 8 million stories in ‘The Naked City’ ' this is just one of them ... .” While far more eloquent than any of the “Naked City” episodes, Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge” is, oddly, also a lot like one of them.
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Thursday, November 4,2010

Jeff Daniels is at his 'Best' showing people at their worst

Couples collide in savagely funny Purple Rose comedy

by Tom Helma
They were the best of friends; they were the worst of friends. Writer Jeff Daniels has a knack for creating complex characterizations of couples experiencing the challenges of interpersonal intimacy. In this latest piece of comedic stagecraft, “Best of Friends,” he tackles the phenomena of best friend couple relationships that go awry — and boy, do they go awry.
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