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).

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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 6 | Main | 2013 Rogue's Gallery, Part 4 »

2013 Rogue's Gallery, Part 5

Costume Design

Clare Hungate-Hawk, Othello, Hilberry Theatre
•Lane Frangomeli, End Days, Williamston Theatre/Jewish Ensemble Theatre
•Vince Kelley, Mommie Queerest, Ringwald Theatre
•Lauren Montgomery, Soul Mates, Magenta Giraffe Theatre Co.
•Liz Moore, The Constant Wife, Meadow Brook Theatre

Contemporary, chic, and accessorized with calculated ease, Moore’s modern 1920s men and women boasted some of the most raidable vintage wardrobes of the season. Frangomeli delivered solid shut-in wear and a standard-issue Jesus, but the complexity and daring of the punk-goth teen statement ensembles were what drew audible gasps. Skipping through time in related vignettes, Montgomery dressed not only for period, but also for mood and tone, from uncomfortable bridesmaid to after-school “Mall Madness” marathon. Under Kelley’s watch, “female impersonator” would not be the joke in and of itself; instead, the star-making designer addressed the peak of golden age Hollywood glamour, in exclusively men’s sizes. However, the award goes to Hungate-Hawk for a series of unique, flowing, asymmetrical cuts with details that followed allegiance and rank, filling the stage with pieces as interconnected and insular as a fashion collection.

New Play or Adaptation

Margaret Edwartowski, Hamtown Races, Planet Ant Theatre
•Jeff Daniels, The Meaning of Almost Everything, Purple Rose Theatre Co.
•Joe Hingleberg and Travis Pelto, White Elephant, Go Comedy! Improv Theater
•Kirsten Knisely, Soul Mates, Magenta Giraffe Theatre Co.
•Don Zolidis, Miles & Ellie, Purple Rose Theatre Co.

The secret of Hingleberg and Pelto’s crassly humorous, deeply flawed family holiday was its underlying affection; their conflict didn’t curdle. Daniels stared an overwhelming question in the face with no intention of answering it, instead giving his characters superb gifts in the form of comic nonspecifics and gallivanting play. Through deep and affecting scene work, each of Knisely’s variations on a theme held its own, yet also touched the others in ways that resonated in the viewer. Zolidis captured both the desperate heat and the searing clumsiness of first love, then followed a recreational first act with a more narratively intricate second, held together by their gawky comedy. Yet Edwartowski’s simultaneously sardonic and hardy interactions were the stuff of a genuinely diverse community, with Norman Lear–like insight and attention to delicate issues that flowed around and through the characters’ story arcs with magnificent ease.

Ensemble (2–4)

The Meaning of Almost Everything, Purple Rose Theatre Co.
boom, Williamston Theatre
Ebenezer, Williamston Theatre
Looking, Tipping Point Theatre
Phoenix, Matrix Theatre

Through pushy friendships and fizzling romantic pairings, the foursome of Looking were mismatches well matched. The cast of Ebenezer brought all the memories in all the world into a single convalescence room, skillfully pivoting as well as banding together to jointly execute an ambitious final twist. Phoenix’s duo challenged themselves with thorny material, but more importantly challenged each other to match wits, emotions, and timing toward a hard-won conclusion. The abortive social experiments populating boom couldn’t have been sharper, making every cascading reveal feel like this conception was positively true — and even better than the last. Ultimately, the laborious physical and intellectual work by the erstwhile philosopher-clown comedy team of The Meaning of Almost Everything takes it as easily as a-one, a-two, a-three.

Ensemble (5 or more)

End Days, Williamston Theatre/Jewish Ensemble Theatre
August: Osage County, Ringwald Theatre
Detroit, Hilberry Theatre
Hamtown Races, Planet Ant Theatre
Marat/Sade, Hilberry Theatre

So many overlapping roles to play (caretakers, ringleaders, overseers, actors, their characters, their surfacing madness…), yet the Marat/Sade gang remained unified and on point. Cagey chameleons all, the citizens of Detroit were fascinating to track as they changed depending on the company they kept. The cast of Hamtown Races brought verve to its central gathering place, offering unique perspective and human connection in every combination. August: Osage County gathered a plethora of idiosyncratic individuals to concurrently air and work out their grievances: even as the fur flew, graciousness, focus, and collaboration were the actors’ watchwords. Still, this award belongs with End Days: beyond each character providing a vital story, the production’s stratospheric force sprung from the performers’ overflowing generosity to the stories not their own.

Best Rogue

Andrew Papa, Edward the Second, The New Theatre Project
•Joe Bailey, The Homosexuals, Ringwald Theatre
•Alex Leydenfrost, Good People, Performance Network Theatre
•Lisa Melinn, Making Porn, Ringwald Theatre
•Scott Vertical, Boner and the Neudge, Go Comedy! Improv Theater

Which Vertical was worse: buzz-word-y antithesis of hip, ignorant of how detestably he came across, or vengeful station manager executing evil plan, fully owning his awfulness? Call her what you will, wife/manager/wrangler, Shakespearean villainess, pimp…so long as Melinn gets her payday, she’s not about to split hairs. There’s nothing inherently wrong with looking out for yourself instead of others, unless you do it the way Leydenfrost did, a thundercloud of perfect entitlement and bilious disdain. Bailey was the wolf in sheep’s clothing, with a spate of unfortunate, possibly misunderstood attitudes curling back to reveal a sucking core of pedantic manipulation paired with radical self-interest. But it takes a certain extra something to be Papa’s stripe of rogue, a royal queen so icy calculating, so disparagingly restrained, and so emboldened in her backseat power that she’d tell her foes her every vile intention to their faces, knowing none could stop her.