Meet the Rogue

Live theater. Unsolicited commentary.
From Detroit to Lansing.

Carolyn Hayes is the Rogue Critic, est. late 2009.

In 2011, the Rogue attended 155 plays, readings, and festivals (about 3 per week) and penned 115 reviews (about 2.2 per week).

Contact: Email | Facebook
RSS: All | Reviews only | Rogue's Gallery

Search R|C
Theaters and Companies

The Abreact (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2011 SIR

The AKT Theatre Project (Wyandotte)
website | reviews

Blackbird Theatre (Ann Arbor)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Detroit Repertory Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews

The Encore Musical Theatre Co. (Dexter)
website | reviews

Go Comedy! (Ferndale)
website | reviews

Hilberry Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Jewish Ensemble Theatre (West Bloomfield)
website | reviews

Magenta Giraffe Theatre Co. (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Matrix Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Meadow Brook Theatre (Rochester)
website | reviews

Performance Network Theatre (Ann Arbor)
website | reviews

Planet Ant Theatre (Hamtramck)
website | reviews

Plowshares Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews

Purple Rose Theatre Co. (Chelsea)
website | reviews

The Ringwald Theatre (Ferndale)
website | reviews

Tipping Point Theatre (Northville)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Threefold Productions (Ypsilanti)
website | reviews

Two Muses Theatre (West Bloomfield Township)
website | reviews

Williamston Theatre (Williamston)
website | reviews







« 2013 Rogue's Gallery, Part 4 | Main | 2013 Rogue's Gallery, Part 2 »

2013 Rogue's Gallery, Part 3

Properties Design

Eric W. Maher, A Skull in Connemara, The Abreact
•Bruce Bennett, Shirley Valentine, Williamston Theatre
•Keith Paul Medelis, Pookie Goes Grenading, The New Theatre Project
•Katy Schoetzow, August: Osage County, Ringwald Theatre
•Diane Ulseth, Moonlight and Magnolias, Jewish Ensemble Theatre

Schoetzow’s interactive, edible, and sometimes breakable elements eddied the rhythms of a household, making the members of an outsized clan at home, for better or worse. The kitchen and pantry implements Bennett accumulated set important parameters: everything in place and within reach, exactly characterizing the kitchen’s sole resident and just as effectively penning her in. One man’s trash was Medelis’s found, reclaimed, and upcycled treasure trove, making art (and, in many uproarious cases, “art”) from anything and everything on hand. Ulseth sprinkled the office lock-in with a slow creep of objects rejected and discarded, which sagely provided scale for the excessive banana-and-peanut-scape of a creative circus on a deadline. The discomfiting realism of Maher’s old skulls, though, could make viewers yearn for some rocket-fuel Irish whiskey just to weather the darkly comic process of smashing them apart — a visceral, dangerous, and ultimately winning endeavor.

Lighting Design (Proscenium Seating)

Reid G. Johnson, White's Lies, Meadow Brook Theatre
•Kevin Barron, Antigone in New York, Elizabeth Theatre
•Samuel G. Byers, Marat/Sade, Hilberry Theatre
•Lucy Meyo, Greetings!, Two Muses Theatre
•Daniel Walker, The Fantasticks, The Encore Musical Theatre Co.

Ambient sources helped Meyo define distinct areas of a sprawling common space, and discerning use of darkness fostered a tender intimacy that wrapped up this sweet Christmas story in a bow. Walker’s use of silhouette and deliberately wrong looks served the premise of a commandeered stage, but his mastery shone through in the enchanting glow of theatrical magic that followed. Unsettling intrusions were Barron’s currency in a world whose homeless denizens lived on borrowed time at the mercy of the elements and the authorities. Byers’s grotesque work transmuted an ensemble of twenty-first century Michigan actors into the clammy-skinned, sunken-eyed horde of undesirables that passed as players to eerily serve an inmate’s agenda. Yet from the first perfectly timed changeover beat — the ingenious effect when static pools of light picked up a telling or humorous moment as the actors on the moving turntable set passed through them — this award belonged to Johnson and no other.

Lighting Design (Surround Seating)

Genesis Garza, Shirley Valentine, Williamston Theatre
•Genesis Garza, Tuna Does Vegas, Williamston Theatre
•Joel Klain, Mrs. Mannerly, Tipping Point Theatre
•Keith Paul Medelis, Woyzeck, The New Theatre Project
•Noele Stollmack, The Meaning of Almost Everything, Purple Rose Theatre Co.

In a mobile production spanning several locales and walkways, Medelis used unfamiliar dimensions and bleak darkness to his advantage, making over the same few cellar rooms in countless ghostly permutations. Klain served the framework of the play by cycling through shifting present, past, and indulgent fantasy scenes, but stayed in concert with the performers’ keen grasp of the material, never stealing focus. Garza’s Tuna thrilled to drench its characters the piled-on excesses of overloaded Las Vegas, worlds away from their sunbaked home sweet hometown. Infinite Stollmack created an ethereal, indefinable pocket of dimensional air that somehow also held promise of something tangible and reachable beyond the philosophical bubble. But the honor goes to Garza’s Shirley Valentine sea change, beginning with a dim, cramped kitchen and transforming into a coastal Greek promontory where the horizon’s the limit.

Original Production

The OffBeats, Go Comedy! Improv Theater
AHOY!, Go Comedy! Improv Theater
Bringing Up Baby New Year, Planet Ant Theatre
Fish Dinner: Second Helping, Planet Ant Theatre
North By North Pole, Go Comedy! Improv Theater

Continuing the storied Go Comedy! tradition of finding the viewer’s last Christmas nerve and poking it, North By North Pole aced the screeching holiday dichotomy of high expectations and low blows. A little darker than the first, Fish Dinner: Second Helping showed the might of its creator’s characters, which blossomed when pushed toward tougher material without missing a comic step. In setting up the microcosm of a cruise ship, AHOY! turned strictures to strengths, using proximity as an excuse to force wild connections among its host of batty characters. Bringing Up Baby New Year used a smart conceit to speed through a one-year lifespan, dispensing with surplus in order to hit every fast and furious highlight of character and punchline. Yet for overall concept, pacing, script, and performance, none was so fresh and fully realized as the laughably atonal traveling poets of The OffBeats.

Duo or Trio

Joel Mitchell, Glen Allen Pruett, and Wayne David Parker,
Moonlight and Magnolias, Jewish Ensemble Theatre

•Stephen Brown and Jenaya Jones Reynolds, A Thousand Circlets, Detroit Repertory Theatre
•Sarab Kamoo and David Wolber, Becky Shaw, Performance Network Theatre
•Molly McMahon and Jaclyn Strez, The Maids, Magenta Giraffe Theatre Co.
•Rob Pantano and Jim Porterfield, Deathtrap, Tipping Point Theatre

With plot threads that didn’t twist so much as break apart, it fell to McMahon and Strez’s complete trust and connection to both communicate their trajectory to the audience and work through dangerous, even deadly, emotional ground. If Pantano and Porterfield’s surprise criminal collaboration was an extraordinary discovery, then their subsequent partnership — and its epic breakdown, as their chief enemy became each other — was nothing short of delectable. As stepsiblings unable to quell their romantic connection, Brown and Reynolds tread a perilous track, but broke through the taboo as a team to show the most reticent viewer what a rare gift was their cursed partnership. Kamoo and Wolber formed a tag team of selfishness and staggering indifference; that they believably lived in the world and interacted with other humans without being tarred and feathered is testament to these tricky complementary performances. But the whirlwind extravaganza of Mitchell, Pruett, and Parker was unassailable, as they sniped and slapped and barreled their way toward Oscar greatness through the agonizing trenches of the rewriting process.