The Help

(PG-13) ★★★☆☆

This film has Viola Davis going for it, and she is more than enough. In 1960s Jackson, Miss., young Miss Skeeter (Emma Stone) undertakes a clandestine book project gathering stories from the African-American housekeepers and child-raisers. Skeeter elicits counsel and stories from Aibileen (Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer) while standing off against the despicable queen bee of privilege and prejudice, Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard). The movie is a very pretty and somewhat generic thing visually, but Davis steals the show.

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Puppet Masters

Stage

Puppet Masters

Erik Ball teaches high school theater, plays King Arthur in Excalibur’s Tournament of Kings, has eight years experience in puppetry and a great love of Fraggle Rock. The varied experiences came in handy when Ball chose Little Shop of Horrors for his directorial debut with Signature Productions, a local family-oriented theater company created in 1989. The challenge, among many others, was making a man-eating plant named Audrey II magically come to life. Here’s how he did it:

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