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What's Happenin': August 3 - August 18, 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Lifestyle - Noteworthy Events
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 03 August 2010 06:00

The Harrison Hilltop Theatre's poster for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling BeeTheatre

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Harrison Hilltop Theatre

Thursday, August 12, through Saturday, August 28

Timber Lake Playhouse

Thursday, August 12, through Sunday, August 22


Yup, you read that correctly: Davenport's Harrison Hilltop Theatre and Mt. Carroll's Timber Lake Playhouse will both open productions of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on August 12. And this is one of those times when stepping down from my theatre-reviewer tenure seems like the stupidest decision on Earth, because I can't think of many other musicals I'd be quite so excited to see in two separate venues over the same weekend.

For one thing, the show itself is outstanding. Nominated for six 2005 Tony Awards, two of which it won, book writer Rachel Sheinkin's and composer William Finn's collaboration is a wildly hilarious and unexpectedly poignant reenactment of a middle-school bee; the Wall Street Journal called it "a super-smart show that is also a bona fide crowd-pleaser," and Variety magazine wrote that this musical "is so generously warm-hearted, only the most bitter misanthrope could resist its charms."

But for another thing, no two productions of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will ever be identical ... not even those performed at the same venue. In addition to its pint-sized characters, the show employs a handful of audience volunteers at every performance to take turns spelling with the kids on stage, meaning that you - yes, you! - might wind up the bee champion at the show's climax. Don't hold your breath, though. Words used to trip up past Putnam County contestants have included "hasenpfeffer," "diethylamide," and "weltanschauung," and I'll give anyone five dollars who knows how to spell those wo - .

Damn. I keep forgetting that just because these things are conversational, it doesn't mean we're actually conversing.

Timber Lake's production runs through August 22, while Harrison Hilltop's continues through August 28; tickets to the former are available by calling (815)244-2035 or visiting, and reservations to the latter can be made at (563)449-6371 or visiting



Tyler Finley, Shava Lavino, and Curtis Fischer-Oelschlaeger in CurtainsTheatre


Prospect Park Auditorium

Friday, August 6, through Sunday, August 15


Quad City Music Guild wraps up its summer season with a production of Curtains, running at Moline's Prospect Park Auditorium August 6 through 15. I haven't seen the show before, but I understand that one of the characters in this mystery musical/comedy is a theatre critic, so I'm expecting lines of Music Guild patrons to reach around the block. After all, as Reader reviewer Thom White and I can attest, who doesn't love theatre critics?!

Nominated for eight 2007 Tony Awards - with Frasier star David Hyde Pierce earning the Best Actor trophy for his Broadway performance - Curtains was the last collaboration between the legendary duo of John Kander and Fred Ebb (the latter of whom passed away in 2004). It also blends the two subjects you'd most likely expect from the composer/lyricist team behind Cabaret and Chicago: the theatre and murder.

Both a parody of whodunits and the genuine article, Curtains finds a dogged detective (and major fan of the stage) trying to solve the killing of an untalented diva immediately after her curtain call. The suspects include her co-stars, her director, and her stage manager, but even if you can identify the culprit, chances are excellent that Music Guild's gifted cast - which includes Mark McGinn, Wendy Czekalski, Jim Seward, Tom Vaccaro, Andrea Millea, Shana Lavino, and more than a dozen additional, familiar Prospect Park talents - will keep you guessing as to who most successfully knocked the audience dead.

And if all that isn't reason enough to attend, let's not forget about the presence of Curtains' theatre critic, or the fact that it actually features a song about theatre critics! I understand that it's called "What Kind of Man?", and it's sung while the cast is reading their show's review, and I just found its lyrics online. Let's see ... : "What kind of mom would raise her boy like that? / Who'd want her baby to destroy like that? / Who could be jerk enough / Hard up for work enough / To want a job like that?"

Wow. Have fun with that review, Thom.

For Curtains information and tickets, call (309)762-6610 or visit



American GrindhouseMovies

Hardacre Film Festival

Hardacre Theater

Friday, August 6, and Saturday, August 7


As usual, this summer at the cineplex has been pretty chockablock with sequels, remakes, and adaptations of TV series. So if you've been hankering for more original material and are maxed out after catching Inception for the ninth time, you'll definitely want to make your way to Tipton, Iowa, on August 6 and 7, when the town's Hardacre Theater presents the 13th-annual Hardacre Film Festival.

Designed as a showcase for cutting-edge independent and underground works, the yearly festival screens works from local, national, and international professionals and amateurs, with this year's lineup giving audiences the chance to view eight debuting features and 16 shorts over a mere day and a half.

Among the feature films on the 2010 schedule:

  • American Grindhouse, which "traces the history of the exploitation film";
  • Ballhawks, which "tells the story of Cubs fans who chase balls outside of Wrigley Field";
  • Between Floors, which "traces the human condition through five stuck elevators and the people trapped inside them";
  • Cleanflix, which "explores companies that make R-rated films 'clean' for families and religious groups"; and
  • World's Largest, which "profiles one town's four-year struggle to build the world's largest lava lamp."

And among the short films, the lineup includes such intriguing titles as A Complex Villainelle, An Affair with Dolls, F-Word Pizza, and The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger. I'd recommend catching that last one before Hollywood inevitably turns it into an animated entertainment directed by Rob Zombie.

The Hardacre Theater is located at 112 East Fifth Street in Tipton, and further information on tickets and the weekend's schedule is available by calling (319)325-3974 or visiting



Brenda LeeMusic

An Evening with Brenda Lee

Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center

Friday, August 12, 7:30 p.m.


Dear Brenda Lee:


I just read that you'll be bringing your legendary pop, country, and rockabilly stylings to the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center on August 12, and I have to tell you: I think I love you again.

I know you don't need me for anything anymore, not since we were whispering sweet nothin's and rockin' around the Christmas tree at Ruby's Lounge in Kansas City, and that as usual, I'm just a dum dum - Fool. No. 1 - for feeling these emotions. But every now and then, those misty memories of when you loved me make me think that losing you was a little unfair. Didn't we do it good?

You're always on my mind, so I come to you with heart in hand, because I was born to be by your side. That's all right if you take me for a left-over love, but I want to be wanted, and that's all you gotta do to guarantee that I ain't gonna cry no more. (Sometimes I wonder if everybody loves me but you.) I know I'm coming on strong, but you can depend on me.

Break it to me gently, Brenda. If this is our last time, nobody wins, but I'll still say, "Thanks a lot," and be grateful for takin' what I can get - that dynamite time alone with you.

In the meantime, I'm hoping I'm enough for you, and I guess all I can say is ...

I'm sorry. So sorry.


Your used-to-be,

Johnny One Time


An Evening with Brenda Lee tickets are $15 in advance and $30 at the door, and inclusions from the Rock & Roll and Country Music hall-of-famer's 41 aforementioned hits can be heard by calling (800)843-4753 or visiting





The Redstone Room

Friday, August 6, 7 p.m.


"Hey, Mike, for the next issue, I'd appreciate it if you did a What's Happenin' piece on Rooney, who will be at Davenport's Redstone Room on August 6."

"Really, Jeff?! Excellent! I can't wait to get started!"

"I'd like you, of course, to provide a little background information about the band, so make sure to write that it's a five-piece pop/rock outfit based in Los Angeles, formed in 1999, and composed of guitarists Robert Schwartzman and Taylor Locke, bassist Brandon Schwartzel, keyboard player Louie Stephens, and drummer Ned Brower."

"Oh. Um. Okay ... ."

"You'll probably want to mention that Rooney was a headliner at the 2003 Lollapalooza festival, that its musicians earned national recognition when they cameoed in a 2004 episode of The O.C., and that their songs have been heard in such varied entertainments as the movies Herbie Fully Loaded and Nancy Drew, and the TV series Gossip Girl and All My Children."

"Right. Right ... ."

"I'd definitely mention that the group has toured nationally with such acts as the Jonas Brothers, Kelly Clarkson, Weezer, The Strokes, and Tally Hall, and that Rooney is currently on tour in support of its third full-length album - Eureka - which was released on June 8."

"Of course. Sure ... ."

"And if you want to, you can even note that the band is named after the character Ed Rooney, the principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. That's a fun piece of trivia."

"Yes. It definitely is. Yes ... ."

"What's the matter?"

" ... "

"You thought Mickey Rooney was coming to town, didn't you?"

"I mean, come on, I've seen Pete's Dragon 25 times!"


Rooney performs the Redstone Room alongside openers Deluxe Republic and Slip Silo, and more information and tickets are available by calling (563)326-1333 or visiting



What Else Is Happenin'...?



Friday, August 6 - Collin Raye. Platinum-selling country artist in concert. Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center (1777 Isle Parkway, Bettendorf). 7:30 p.m. $15. For tickets and information, call (800)843-4753 or visit

Friday, August 13, and Saturday, August 14 - Ya Maka My Weekend. Annual celebration of Caribbean and Jamaican culture, with food vendors, arts and crafts, and live music by reggae bands including Rebel Roots, Dub Dis, and the Now Generation Band. The District of Rock Island. Friday 5 p.m. gates; Saturday noon gates. $8/day, $12/two-day pass. For information, call (309)788-6311 or visit

Sunday, August 15 - Lois DeLoatch. Jazz vocalist and songwriter performs and educates as part of Polyrhythms' Third Sunday Jazz Matinée & Workshop Series. The Redstone Room (129 Main Street, Davenport). 3 p.m. all-ages workshop - $5/adult, children free; 6 p.m. concert - $10-$15. For tickets and information, call (563)326-1333 or visit and For a 2008 River Cities' Reader feature story on DeLoatch, visit

Wednesday, August 18 - The Watson Twins. Independent musicians in an all-ages concert sponsored by Daytrotter, performing with Tennis, Ferraby Lionheart, and Idpyramid. The Circa '21 Speakeasy (1818 Third Avenue, Rock Island). 7 p.m. $8/advance, $10/door. For tickets and information, call (309)786-7733 extension 2, or visit For Jeff Ignatius' interview with Chandra and Leigh Watson, visit For Jeff Ignatius' interview with Tennis, click here.



Thursday, August 5, through Thursday, August 26 - 8-Track: Songs of the '70s. Full-length musical revue starring the Quad Cities' performing wait staff, the Circa '21 Bootleggers. Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse (1818 Third Avenue, Rock Island). 7:15 p.m. on Thursdays. $46.28. For tickets and information, call (309)786-7733 extension 2, or visit

Thursday, August 5, through Sunday, August 15 - Christmas Belles. Southern farce about squabbling siblings, directed by John VanDeWoestyne. Richmond Hill Barn Theatre (Richmond Hill Park, Geneseo). Thursdays-Saturdays 7:30 p.m.; Sundays 4 p.m. $10. For tickets and information, call (309)944-2244 or visit

Thursday, August 12, through Sunday, August 29 - Wit. A Curtainbox Theatre Company production of Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, directed by Philip William McKinley. Village Theatre (2113 East 11th Street, the Village of East Davenport). Thursdays-Saturdays and Tuesdays 7:30 p.m.; Sundays 3 p.m. $12-$20. For tickets and information, call (563)322-8504 or visit For an interview with Wit associate producer Lora Adams, visit

Thursday, August 12, through Sunday, Sunday, August 22 - Sunday in the Park with George. Composer Stephen Sondheim's Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about romance and pointillism. Clinton Area Showboat Theatre (311 Riverview Drive, Clinton). Thursdays-Saturdays 7:30 p.m.; Sundays and Wednesdays 3 p.m. $16-$20. For tickets and information, call (563)242-6760 or visit



Wednesday, August 18 - Janet Martin Presents "Hot Flashes, Hot Pads, & Hot Dishes: A Humorous Look at Growing Up in the Late '50s." The Midwest Writing Center hosts a program with the co-author of the Growing Up Lutheran books that inspired Church Basement Ladies. Radisson Quad City Plaza Hotel (421 West River Drive, Davenport). Noon. $20-$22. For information or reservations, call (563)324-1410 or visit



Friday, August 6 - Flamingo Fling. An auction of the works in the annual Flamingo Follies exhibit, with appetizers, a cash bar, a raffle, and live music by the Fry Daddies. Quad City Botanical Center (2525 Fourth Avenue, Rock Island). 6 p.m. $10-$15. For information and tickets, call (309)794-0991 or visit

Thursday, August 12 - Living Lands & Waters Barge Party. Annual celebration of river cleanups, environmental-education workshops, and restoration projects, featuring a fish fry & shrimp boil, tours, a meet & greet with members of the LL&W crew, a silent art auction, live music, and more. Lake Davenport Sailing Club (River Drive & Oneida Street, Davenport). 5:30 p.m. $35. For information and to reserve, call 309-496-9848 or visit

Thursday, August 12, through Saturday, August 14 - 24th Annual Tug Fest. Yearly "grudge match" festival between LeClaire, Iowa, and Port Byron, Illinois, featuring live music, a parade, a 5K run/walk, food, vendors, children's activities, a fireworks display, Saturday's 1 p.m. tug-of-war over the Mississippi River, and more. Held at the LeClaire and Port Byron levees. In Iowa: Thursday 6 p.m. gates, Friday 4 p.m. gates, Saturday 7 a.m. gates. In Illinois: Thursday 5 p.m. gates, Friday 3 p.m. gates, Saturday 7 a.m. gates. $3/day. For information, call (563)289-3946 or (309)314-0556, or visit

Saturday, August 14 - Living Lands & Waters' Xstream Cleanup. Annual Quad Cities-wide volunteer cleanup of creeks, drainage ways, and sections of the Mississippi and Rock rivers. River Action (822 East River Drive, Davenport). 8:30-11:30 a.m. Free. For information and to register, call (563)468-4218 or visit

Sunday, August 15 - Homegrown Iron Chef Final Showdown. Fundraiser for Scott Community College programs and scholarships, in which the four Market Competition winners will prepare a dish to be judged by two judges and visiting chef Paul Virant, who will also offer a cooking demonstration. Isle of Capri Convention Center (1777 Isle Parkway, Bettendorf). 11 a.m.-2 p.m. $40-$50. For tickets and information, call (563)441-4063 or visit

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