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River Cities' Reader | Theatre
Die Job: "Shear Madness," at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse through April 30 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Ashcraft   
Tuesday, 15 March 2016 06:00

Jennifer Poarch, Brad Hauskins, Tristan Layne Tapscott, Jeff Haffner, Carrie SaLoutos, and Tom Walljasper in Shear MadnessOur audience hadn't even realized the play had started.

The continually in-motion and always entertaining Bootleggers had barely concluded their pre-show when the evening's featured performance quietly began. As patrons sipped their after-dinner coffees, and with the house lights fully lit, the first characters in the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's production of Shear Madness made their way onstage and – delivering an outlandish and amusing show-before-the-show – gave our crowd some insight into what sort of over-the-top, wacky comedy we were about to see. Between cast members getting their hair washed and blow-dried in rhythm to classic pop music to the infinite number of entrances and exits, it was clear that this was going to be one wild and colorful ride.

Here's to the Ladies Who Launch: "Mama Won't Fly," at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre through March 20 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brent Tubbs   
Monday, 14 March 2016 06:00

Stephanie Moeller, Sydney Dexter, and Karrie McLaughlin in Mama Won't FlyFrom the moment you step foot into the Playcrafters Barn Theatre for its production of Mama Won’t Fly – a comedy by the popular team of Jamie Wooten, Jessie Jones, and Nicholas Hope – you’ll hear Route 66 cruising music that gets you in the mood to take a road trip. The show itself subsequently delivers that trip, plus a few extra surprises.

Food for Thought: "The Big Meal" at the QC Theatre Workshop through March 20 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Ashcraft   
Monday, 07 March 2016 06:00

Angela Elliott, Michael Carron, Abby Van Gerpen, Laila Haley, Joshua Pride, Erin Churchill, and Jordan McGinnis in The Big Meal, photo courtesy of Jessica Sheridan and Shared Light PhotographyBefore seeing Saturday's production of The Big Meal, my wife, youngest son, and I decided to grab supper. I wanted pizza, but my wife wanted to try something different, so we landed at a little restaurant just a few blocks east of the theatre. As we ate our hummus and falafel, we chatted about family, work, the future, and life in general. Little did we know that our simple meal together would be an almost mirrored precursor to what we were about to witness on stage.

The Executioners' Songs: "Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story," at the Circa '21 Speakeasy through February 27 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Victoria Navarro   
Thursday, 25 February 2016 06:00

Adam Cerny and Thomas Alan Taylor in Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb StoryLast month, I happened to turn on my TV to an episode of PBS' American Experience titled “The Perfect Crime,” which told of the senseless, 1924 murder of a young Chicago boy. The crime was committed by two teenagers, Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, and I was awestruck not only because of the horrific details of the killing, but also by the fact that I had never before heard of it. Then, a few weeks ago, I was assigned to review Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story, a musical I was unfamiliar with – but one, thanks to PBS, boasting a story I now knew.

I'm not sure what is it about true-crime stories that draws us in, almost as voyeurs, as we witness evil acts yet find ourselves engaged in every gritty detail. And with a book, movie, TV show, or grandly scaled theatre piece such as Sweeney Todd, we can read or watch as dastardly deeds are done, yet are always kept at a safe distance from those deeds, giving us a sort of protection. The suspenseful, powerful Thrill Me, however, is a musical that would appear to work best in an intimate setting such as the one currently provided by the Circa '21 Speakeasy, where that safe distance shrinks all too uncomfortably … which is likely the goal.

May the Farce Be with You: "Moon Over Buffalo," at the District Theatre through February 27 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Victoria Navarro   
Monday, 15 February 2016 06:00

Ian Brown, Nancy Terrlinck, Mike Kelly, Alexis Greene and Susan McPeters in Moon Over BuffaloOn a cold night indicative of February, weary of politicians and the weather, I escaped to Rock Island for the latest District Theatre offering Moon Over Buffalo. A Tony-nominated play that debuted on Broadway in 1995, author Ken Ludwig's farce is a comedy of silly, exaggerated humor, and probably not to every theatre-goer’s taste. But in my opinion, and judging by the belly laughs coming from Friday's opening-night audience, the humor as performed here clearly worked for a number of us.

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