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







Entries in musicals (63)


The Big Bang

The premise is almost disarming: performers Greg Trzaskoma and Brian Thibault (using their actual names) have written a musical. An expensive, bloated Titanic of an epic musical — ship or film, both apply. And they're pitching it to you, their audience of potential investors and sponsors.

Such is The Big Bang, the title of both the "proposed" show and this current offering by the Jewish Ensemble Theater. It brings something new to the genre, a fine solution to the problem of staging a traditional musical: all the people, the costumes, the orchestra! Here, Stacy Cleavland doubles as music director and the third cast member, single-handedly providing live accompaniment and delivering a few great jokes of her own. Director Mary Bremer establishes immediate contact between performers and audience that completely blurs the lines of pre-show and the play's start, delightfully heightening the unconventional portrayal. The conceit of pitching the play instead of performing it also allows for numerous descriptions of the artists' visions for the final product, each as gaudy and costly as a Las Vegas revue.

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Evil Dead: The Musical

I am not a Halloween person. Nor am I a scary-movie person. Had I not felt obligated to get the full experience for this review, I would never have chosen to sit in the designated "splash zone" at a theater with posters warning, "There will be blood!" Which explains why I took my seat for Evil Dead: The Musical, at the farthest reaches of the splash zone, with a bandana covering my hair and my torso sheathed in a scented trash bag. I was skeptical, but game. This exposition is necessary in order to put the following in its proper context: I loved every single minute.

The play is a fast-moving interpretation of the Evil Dead series of films, which I have never seen because of my aforementioned avoidance of yuckiness. Five college students — protagonist Ash, his girlfriend, his sister, his best friend, and the girl his best friend is nailing — have the brilliant idea to spend their spring break alone, in the woods, in an abandoned cabin. They accidentally summon demons from another dimension, and one by one become possessed or worse. As the plot unfolds, the students, and a handful of other characters, sing their hearts out even as they are being shot and dismembered.

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The Fantasticks

It was near the end of "Try to Remember," right at the first of several repetitions of "follow-follow-follow-follow-follow-follow-follow-follow-follow," that I was able to remember how much I hate The Fantasticks. This is not the Hilberry production's fault.

In The Fantasticks, the first act is intended to be a Technicolor fantasy — the love we see between Luisa and Matt cannot be true until they have been beaten down in some way by life. However, despite the fact that a fantasy is supposed to be enjoyable, these characters are painted in the broadest strokes, smiles plastered on their faces, fairly shouting about how special they are. This inevitably gives me the impression of the lovers that (a) they're insipid, (b) they deserve each other, and (c) could they please do their awful courting offstage somewhere. Even after hoping for most of the play that the kids get smacked, when it happens to Matt in the second act, I don't enjoy it because of that horrid "Round and Round" song and the nonsense with the mask. Needless to say, I don't get it — are we supposed to root for these kids?

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