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 Ringwald Theatre (33)


The SantaLand Diaries & Season's Greetings

For its holiday mainstage show, Who Wants Cake? brings out the big guns: Joe Plambeck and Joe Bailey, the powerhouse at the company's helm. Directed by Jamie Richards, The SantaLand Diaries & Season's Greetings is described as a double bill; it draws its name from the titles of the two David Sedaris pieces presented, the former an autobiographical essay recounting the writer's experiences as a Macy's elf, the latter a fictitious — I hope — presentation of a housewife's annual Christmas newsletter.

The two halves of the play are decidedly distinct, as advertised, one narrated and the other in character, one man dressed in an elf costume and the other in winter white with kitten heels, one full of real-life crazies and the other invented craziness. Each has a surprisingly different tone, but together they deliver a cohesive blow to the merry and bright. This sort of anti-Christmas view is unique in that it skewers from within instead of without — rather than hovering at the fringes and throwing barbs, this show derives its humor from characters that stood so close to the Christmas spirit, they got burned.

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The Real Housewives of the North Pole

If you crave sincerity and the warmth of human kindness this time of year, look elsewhere. This joint effort of Who Wants Cake? and Sweetlove Productions is hardly even a Christmas story, but rather a loosely plotted comedy that happens to be set at the North Pole. However, if your idea of a happy holiday is spewing hot toddy through your nose from laughter, be sure to stay up late for The Real Housewives of the North Pole.

The original script, by director Marke Sobolewski and cast member Cara Trautman, draws inspiration from the Bravo network's Real Housewives series. Supposedly, behind every great man is a great woman, so here we look into the lives of Mrs. Claus, Mrs. Kringle, the mayor's wife, an uninhibited divorcee, and the new woman in town, whose contractor husband was hired to save the struggling Pole. The writers draw on the reality-TV framework with sparing use of "confessional" interview scenes, but aren't afraid to stray from the source material and let the simple story tell itself. The women are at their best in group scenes as they drink, fight, give advice, go on excursions, suspect and spy on each other, and throw a fundraiser. Although you don't have to like the Real Housewives franchise to enjoy this play, fans of "Tardy For the Party" should also be satisfied by the included spoofs.

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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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