Composer William Flynn's music and lyrics and Rachel Sheinkin's book (with additional material by Jay Reiss) are so full of wit, heart, and humor that I think even a “C”-average delivery would still please. Director Becca Johnson, however, has created a wonderfully paced and creatively performed production, featuring terrific talent that includes the five-member pit orchestra of Peter Letendre, Becky Holland, Sandra Blom, Kyle Jacklin, and music director Kyle Schneider. This show gets an A+ in my book, as there was hardly a moment in which I wasn’t under its, ahem, spell.

I love going to the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse – not just for the great shows, but for the memories that the old theatre brings. And on the day after Thanksgiving, I had the good fortune to take my eight year-old grandson John to the opening matinée of Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas, Circa '21's current children’s musical under the direction of Andrea Moore.

It's been said that laughter is the best medicine, and during the Circa '21 Speakeasy’s Friday-night production of The Rocky Horror Show, I got a really good dose of it. Bret and Erin Churchill, who co-directed and choreographed the show, have put together a fast-paced, high-energy production full of terrific singing and hilarious fun.

As soon as the Countess speaks in Jeff Coussens' production, the play is elevated to a new and higher realm entirely. This is, in part, due to the character as written, for the Madwoman sees into the heart of humanity and into the soul of life with the depth and perception of no ordinary human being. This is such a wonderfully endearing and funny role and, not least of all, a very demanding one, and I initially wondered how someone so young would manage it. But from the moment she first spoke, MJ Mason was in complete mastery of her character, and I was smitten.

British farce, when done well, is some of my favorite entertainment, and I personally enjoy the fact that the comedy series Fawlty Towers is set in the seaside town of Torquay, England, which happens to be my birthplace. Hoping for the best, on Friday night I attended the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's production of authors Philip King's and Falkland L. Cary's Big ... Bad ... Mouse! I was a bit disappointed, however, to find that this 1964 show's overall pacing and tone were more representative of broad American comedy than illustrative of “proper” English farce.

Making a silk purse from a sow’s ear. That’s what director/ choreographer Ann Nieman and her talented cast and crew are doing in the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but why on Earth anyone would try to rehabilitate this porker is quite beyond me. Don’t get me wrong, though: At evening's end, I, along with seemingly every other patron in the house for the July 20 preview, heartily applauded during the curtain call. Even though I think the material is awful, the production itself is very good.

Have you ever watched an intense horror flick and felt complete frustration as the victim makes a really questionable choice and ends up in a formerly avoidable, now-inevitable and desperate situation, and you say to yourself, “No-o-o-o!!! Why did she do that?!”? If so, you’ll understand some of my experience on Friday night during the Mississippi Bend Players’ production of Wait Until Dark.

When my editor was doling out reviewing assignments for the month, I more or less said, “Please – anything but opera!” Then, due to availability issues, I ended up being assigned to review Opera @ Augustana's and Genesius Guild's Selections from Menotti.

A mobile Army surgical hospital (MASH) is a nomadic troop of doctors, nurses, and equipment. And while nomads the world over have packed up all of their belongings and disappeared quickly and stealthily into the night, playwright Tim Kelly’s M*A*S*H, currently in production at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre, is not a vehicle that travels well.

Some spiritual teachings hold the heart as the organ of transformation, arguing that it's through the heart that we connect with the source of life that speaks to us, that guides us, and through which we're opened to the richness of being. When we give our hearts to others through acts of love, we are transformed. But what of the act of literally giving one’s heart to another through a heart transplant? Are there consequences for those involved? How does this generous act of giving play out in a story of grieving and loss? Does it add more meaning to the life of the one who has passed?

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