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Wednesday, November 9,2011

Theatrical psychodrama

Powerful ‘Shrike’ explores malicious mind games

by Tom Helma
Set designer Fred Englegau has created a great, seemingly soothing yet sinister mental hospital ward that is as seriously anal-retentive and super-organized as a Martha Stewart Thanksgiving dinner table, while director Paige Dunckel has found and...
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Wednesday, November 2,2011

Going Over the Ledge

Theater vet Joe Dickson launches a new company

by Tom Helma
By TOM HELMA Some people wish, some people dream, others take action. Joe Dickson acts. He also directs, handles lighting and sound, is on the Lansing Civic Players board of directors and is in the process of creating his own theater company, Over the Ledge.
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Wednesday, October 19,2011

Pure poison

‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ proves comedy doesn’t always improve with age

by Tom Helma
Playwright Joseph Kesserling puts theater critic Mortimer Brewster at the heart of “Arsenic,” an island of rationality in an ocean of insanity. Adam Bright plays him with a consistently effective calmness, while most of the other characters are exaggerated nutcases.
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Wednesday, October 5,2011

Puerile Michigan

Purple Rose Theatre revisits ‘Escanaba,’ where good taste is always out of place

by Tom Helma
elaborately staged Rube Goldberg set up of an extended fart sequence, complete with slow-motion strobe light and explosive sound effects? Or is it the scene in which a particularly potent potpourri of Potawatami porcupine piss gets poured over Ranger Tom?.
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Wednesday, September 28,2011

Actors soar in 'Blackbird'

Drama poses provocative questions about passion

by Tom Helma
director Chad Badgero promises that “no situation is simply black or white,” and in “Blackbird," Doak Bloss and Angela Mishler confirm this in a production that leaves the audience emotionally bruised and battered, spiritually black and blue. This is not a play for the faint of heart, yet it is a play that stirs the soul.
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Wednesday, September 21,2011

Musical Memoir: A New Jersey State of Mind

by Tom Helma
What is there about this small East Coast state that captivates the country? What makes people yearn for the seriously mean streets of this urban-industrial corridor that parallels the Hudson River? Is it that view from the city of West New York, N.J.
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Wednesday, September 14,2011

Riverwalk delivers a winning 'Annie'

by Tom Helma
One expects children in these roles to be cute and emotionally endearing, but director Jeff Croff (ably assisted by choreographer Elizabeth Todd) has additionally conjured up a high level of professionalism. Not to mention impressive stage Review presence on the part of two separate children’s ensembles.
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Wednesday, June 29,2011

Change of life

A macho man finds a softer side in Purple Rose’s amusing ’Oyster’

by Tom Helma
MacGregor uses humor to illustrate the challenges of a man learning how to be a woman. In Act Two, Gene reemerges as Jean, played now by Rhiannon Ragland.
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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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