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Much Ado About Many Things: Spring Theatre in the Quad Cities and Surrounding Areas PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 03 March 2009 19:43

The Prenzie Players' Much Ado About NothingThe Quad Cities' spring theatre season will be bookended by Shakespeare, with the March 6 opening of Much Ado About Nothing, and Sophocles, with the May 28 debut of Oedipus Rex. But just because these plays are, respectively, more than 400 and 2,400 years old, it probably isn't wise to enter them expecting the expected. This Sophocles, after all, is subtitled The Audacity of Oed, and this Shakespeare is being staged by the Prenzie Players, so in both works, you may as well expect anything to happen; considering our lineup also features titles by Stephen Sondheim, Neil Simon, Euripides, and Mel Brooks, I'm thinking you can say the same for the theatre season as a whole.

In truth, the area's March through May roster of plays and musicals actually begins with two shows that open a day before Much Ado - you'll just have to venture to Iowa City to see them. On March 5, Riverside Theatre delivers its annual evenings of solo entertainments, Walking the Wire: Monologues at Riverside (running through March 8), while the University of Iowa stages playwright Jordan Harrison's surreal comedy Kid Simple (running through March 14); the respective companies then close their 2008-9 seasons in April, with Riverside staging the world premiere of Barbara Lau's Raising Medusa (April 2 through 19), and the U of I producing Lynn Nottage's dawn-of-the-20th-Century drama Intimate Apparel, running April 16 through 26. (Interestingly, this award-winning play is the only theatrical title being offered twice this spring, as Galesburg's Knox College stages its own Intimate Apparel May 21 through 23.)

Elsewhere in Iowa City, Dreamwell Theatre presents Oscar winner Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People (March 27 through April 4), Iowa City Community Theatre offers the Larry Shue farce The Foreigner (March 13 through 22) and Stephen Schwartz's lighthearted musical The Baker's Wife (April 24 through May 3), and the Englert Theatre plays host to the Young Footliters' production of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods (March 6 through 8), and UI Performing Arts' operatic spoof Orpheus in the Underworld (May 1 through 3).

A trek to Iowa's Amana Colonies finds the Old Creamery Theatre resurrecting a musical legend with Always ... Patsy Cline (April 23 through May 10), and staging a Neil Simon with The Odd Couple (May 28 through June 28). Anamosa's Starlighters Theatre offers the boy-band precursors of Forever Plaid (March 6 through 15). Cedar Rapids' Kirkwood Community College produces Albert Camus' The Just Assassins (April 3 through 5), the city's Stage Left Productions presents Caryl Churchill's A Number (March 6 through 15) and Adam Rapp's Nocturne (May 22 through 31), and Theatre Cedar Rapids delivers August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning Fences (March 20 through 29) and the flower power of Hair (May 1 through 16).

Coralville's City Circle Acting Company, meanwhile, embarks on a busy spring with Aurand Harris' Arkansas Bear (March 6 through 15) and four works performed in the company's annual repertory festival: Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Steve Hunt's All the King's Horses (both April 3 through 5), David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer Prize winner Rabbit Hole (April 10 through 12), and John Cameron's fantastical Sarah Shattered (April 17 through 19).

Closer to home - at least, being a Rock Island resident, closer to my home - Galesburg's Orpheum Theatre houses a one-night-only production of To Kill a Mockingbird (May 6), while Geneseo's Richmond Hill Barn Theatre spends part of its spring spoofing summer theatre in Charles Morey's Laughing Stock (April 16 through 26). The broad laughs continue with three more Lodge Hotel performances of It's a Mystery's interactive Whacked at da Wedding (on March 13, April 17, and May 15), and laughs don't get much broader, or bigger, than in the Mel Brooks musical The Producers, which Quad City Music Guild stages March 27 through April 5.

The touring company of Mamma Mia!Across the river, in the Village of East Davenport, Elizabethan laughs will come courtesy of the Prenzie Players' Much Ado About Nothing (March 6 through 15), before the group takes on the dramatic challenge of The Trojan Women (May 22 through 31). The Village Theatre will also house the Riverbend Theatre Collective's Alan Ball comedy Five Women Wearing the Same Dress (April 17 through 25), plus a quartet of plays produced by New Ground Theatre: the Julie Marie Myatt drama Cowbird (March 26 through April 5), and three works in the New Plays by Local Playwrights event (April 29 through May 10) - Chris Jansen's Dream a Little Dream of Me, Celeste Mosher's Paid in Full, and Melissa McBain's intriguingly titled Going Back Naked.

Downtown Davenport finds the Adler Theatre offering the ABBA-rific Mamma Mia! (March 14 and 15) and the Billy Joel/Twyla Tharp collaboration Movin' Out (April 16). Heading (the wrong way) up Harrison Street, the Harrison Hilltop Theatre not only hosts the Green Room Theatre's forthcoming Steel Magnolias (April 16 through 26), but no fewer than four presentations of its own: the one-man show Thom Pain (based on nothing) (March 13 through 21), the regional premiere La Llorona (March 26 through April 4), the stage adaptation of The Graduate (May 7 through 17), and the modernized Oedipus Rex: The Audacity of Oed (May 28 through June 6).

Moline's Playcrafters Barn Theatre will shoot for high comedy in Murder at the Howard Johnson's (March 13 through 22) and high drama in Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour (May 8 through 17), while more of the former is on hand in the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's revival of Church Basement Ladies (March 25 through June 6). An actual church, meanwhile, gets into the theatre scene with Davenport's First Presbyterian Church and its presentation of the off-Broadway smash Altar Boyz (March 21 and 22).

Attendees of educational theatre will have plenty to attend this spring: Black Hawk College stages Neil Simon's The Dinner Party (April 14 through 19), Scott Community College offers Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s Who Am I This Time? (March 27 through April 4), Augustana College presents Tim Carlson's sci-fi thriller Omniscience (May 1 through 10), and St. Ambrose University follows its student-directed Agnes of God (March 26 through 28) with a lavish staging of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd (April 17 though 19).

None of these collegiate productions, however, is necessarily for the younger students out there. But springtime theatre wouldn't be complete without at least a few offerings for the kids, and children of all ages are invited to enjoy the Englert's Madeline & the Bad Hat (March 28), the Old Creamery's The Tale of Peter Rabbit (April 11 through May 2), Circa '21's Junie B. Jones & a Little Monkey Business (April 14 through May 9), and Davenport Junior Theatre's Aesop's Falables (April 18 and 19). Plus, the Timber Lake Playhouse in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, will open its season early this year, with a children's theatre take on Beauty & the Beast (May 12 through 16). Thank you, Timber Lake - it's like we theatre-goers are that much closer to summer now.

 

For more information on the spring's theatrical productions, visit RCReader.com/calendars/reader-theatre-calendar.

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A Number  Adam Rapp  Adler Theatre  Aesops Falables  Agnes of God  Albert Camus  All the Kings Horses  Altar Boyz  Always... Patsy Cline  An Enemy of the People  Arkansas Bear  August Wilson  Augustana College  Aurand Harris  Barbara Lau  Beauty and the Beast  Billy Joel  Black Hawk College  Caryl Churchill  Celeste Mosher  Charles Morey  Chris Jansen  Christopher Hampton  Church Basement Ladies  Circa 21 Dinner Playhouse  City Circle Acting Company  Cowbird  Davenport Junior Theatre  David Lindsay Abaire  Dreamwell Theatre  Englert Theatre  Fences  First Presbyterian Church of Davenport  Five Women Wearing the Same Dress  Forever Plaid  Going Back Naked Two Plays by Local Playwrights  Hair  Harrison Hilltop Theatre  Henrik Ibsen  Intimate Apparel  Into the Woods  Iowa City Community Theatre  Its a Mystery  John Cameron  Jordan Harrison  Julie Marie Myatt  Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business  Kid Simple  Kirkwood Community College  Knox College  Kurt Vonnegut  La Llorona  Larry Shue  Laughing Stock  Lillian Hellman  Lynn Notage  Madeline and the Bad Hat  Mamma Mia!  Mel Brooks  Melissa McBain  Movin Out  Much Ado About Nothing  Murder at the Howard Johnsons  Neil Simon  New Ground Theatre  Nocturne  Oedipus Rex  Old Creamery Theatre  Omniscience  Orpheum Theatre  Orpheus in the Underworld  Picasso at the Lapin Agile  Playcrafters Barn Theatre  Prenzie Players  Quad City Music Guild  Rabbit Hole  Raising Medusa  Richmond Hill Barn Theatre  Riverbend Theatre Collective  Riverside Theatre  Sarah Shattered  Scott Community College  Sophocles  St. Ambrose University  Stage Left Productions  Starlighters Theatre  Steel Magnolias  Stephen Schwartz  Stephen Sondheim  Steve Hunt  Steve Martin  Sweeney Todd  The Bakers Wife  The Childrens Hour  The Dinner Party  The Foreigner  The Graduate  The Green Room Theatre  The Just Assassins  The Odd Couple  The Producers  The Tale of Peter Rabbit  Theatre Cedar Rapids  Thom Pain  Tim Carlson  Timber Lake Playhouse  To Kill a Mockingbird  Trojan Women  Twyla Tharp  University of Iowa  Village Theatre  Walking the Wire Monologues at Riverside  Whacked at da Wedding  Who Am I This Time?  William Shakespeare  Young Footliters