Review: ‘Deceptions to the Rule’
Detective thrillers get dead-on comedic treatment at Planet Ant
Never trust a woman you’re blackmailing, the audience is told at the beginning of “Deceptions to the Rule,” the sixteenth original comedy that’s now playing at Hamtramck’s Planet Ant Theatre.
Actually, all of the show’s characters would be wise to trust NO ONE, since practically EVERYONE is deceiving SOMEONE in this noir-ish, laugh-filled production!
Hotel heiress and ex-con Margaret Kensington hires a down-and-out private investigator, Eddie Darling, to find her missing brother, Ryan. At the same time, she promises a percentage of her upcoming wealth to her one-time cell mate, Darla, if she kills her brother once Darling finds him. And then she schemes to have a corrupt cop, Det. Nick Lovey, frame Darling for the murder.
If that’s not confusing enough, Darla – whose biological clock is gasping its last breath – falls in love with Ryan, which requires yet more backstabbing. Meanwhile, the audience learns Margaret’s mother once had an affair that resulted in a child that was “taken care of” – but not in the way her husband, Miles, planned. And just how does Crazy Alice fit into this mess, anyhow?
Plainly put, “Deceptions to the Rule” is yet another madcap evening of creative theater, thanks to director Shawn Handlon and his team of talented actor/writers. But be forewarned: You’ll need a scorecard to keep everyone straight!
That’s because Dave Davies, Tim McKendrick, Jamie Moyer, Amy Phillips and Mark Sobolewski tackle so many roles that I suspect that not even THEY always know who they should be playing at any given moment! But somehow it all works out – and most surprisingly, it even makes sense once all the pieces of the mystery come together!
Like many recent productions at the Ant, “Deceptions to the Rule” makes great use of video throughout the show. Sometimes it simply helps “set the stage.” But it’s most effective when black and white flashback scenes hit the screen. Kudos to Mickey Brown, Nate DuFort and Tommy LeRoy for picking a location that just oozes “noir” – the historic Leland Hotel (known today as the Downtown Ramada). Plus, it allows Tim Robinson to – dom, dom, dom – once again create another memorable character, hotel owner Charles Kensington, and only have to do it once! (You’ll have to see the play to fully appreciate that last line!)
“Deceptions to the Rule” Presented Thursday through Sunday at Planet Ant Theatre, 2357 Caniff, Hamtramck, through June 5. Tickets: $10 – $15. 313-365-4948. http://www.planetant.com.
The Bottom Line: Live action and video are combined in yet another winning original comedy at Planet Ant.
Review: ‘Nunsensations: The All-New Nunsense Vegas Revue’
Sinfully delightful sisters open season at Saugatuck’s Mason Street Warehouse
Just when you thought the well had run dry, creator Dan Goggin proves there’s still plenty of life – and laughs – left with those lovable, musical, Little Sisters of Hoboken!
Since they’ve already saved their convent, survived a second coming, performed at the Grand Old Opry, sailed the high seas on an ecumenical cruise, celebrated Christmas and even survived – and thrived with – an all-male cast, there didn’t seem to be much left for the good sisters to tackle. But with plenty of “T&A” – talent and attitude, that is – the sixth in Goggin’s series of popular “Nunsense” musicals finds the five feather-waving nuns in sunny Las Vegas performing for a week in The Pump Room high atop the Mystique Motor Lodge. (Actually, it’s on the third floorÉbut who’s counting!)
In reality, of course, “Nunsensations: The All-New Nunsense Vegas Revue” is the season opener at the Mason Street Warehouse in downtown Saugatuck, where writer/director Goggin has staged the first full production of his latest creation. (A smaller version premiered this past March at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre in Minnesota.) And it just might be the best sequins – er, sequel – of the bunch!
The nuns came to Sin City after a parishioner offered to donate $10,000 to their school if they would put on a show at a friend’s casino. So with nothing lose and much to gain – after all, what plays in Vegas STAYS in Vegas – Sisters Mary Robert, Mary Leo, Robert Anne, Mary Paul (Sister Amnesia) and Mother Superior Mary Regina packed their scapulars and headed west.
And what a show they brought with them!
Everything fans love about the “Nunsense” series is present in this latest installment, from the corniest jokes ever told with a straight face to the filthiest mouth ever heard on a nun. (A hand puppet, actually: Sister Mary Annette. Get it?) And don’t forget the songs and dance numbers – this time with all the glitter a showgirl can muster!
In fact, there are several standout numbers in this production, thanks to the five actresses who seem to be having a holy riot from start to finish!
Georgia Engel, billed as Special Guest Star, plays the dance-loving Sister Mary Leo with all the sweetness you’ve come to expect from the actress. But did you know she’s also one heck of a dancer? She kicks up her heels to great delight with the show-stopping “From Vaudeville To Vegas.” You’ve never seen a Charleston quite like this!
Marcia Sofley (Sr. Amnesia) displays a great voice with “The Ettes,” a country western tune, and has much fun relating her fruitful casino experience with “What’s Black and White With Her Money On Red.”
And Mary Robin Roth as the tough-talking nun with a heart, Sr. Robert Anne, knocks one out of the ballpark with “Why Sing A Ballad.”
Kathy Robinson (as Mother Superior) and Wydetta Carter (as Sr. Mary Huber, her second-in-command) complete the cast and blend well together in several duets. Robinson, who Detroit-area audiences might recall from “Meshuggah-Nuns” at Meadow Brook Theatre in 2003, recreates the role with great enthusiasm and fun!
The show’s only wrong turn is at the opening of the second act where the frivolity of the evening gets momentarily derailed by a contemplative Sr. Mary Leo who questions her vocation in “I Left Him There.” Although it serves to give her character depth, it’s a jarring change that isn’t served well by Engel’s wispy voice.
But if you want to see what nuns can do with a gay anthem – that is, “YMCA” – don’t leave the show early: You’ve got to see “TTMAR” – “Take The Money And Run” – to believe it!
“Nunsensations: The All-New NunsenseVegas Revue” Presented Wednesday through Sunday at Mason Street Warehouse, 400 Culver St., Saugatuck, through June 5. Tickets: $27.50 – $30. 269-857-4898. http://www.masonstreetwarehouse.org.
The Bottom Line: What’s black and white and pink all over? Why, it’s those lovable Little Sisters of Hoboken in a typically hokey, yet highly entertaining Las Vegas revue.