Maybe our virtual lives are just as important as our physical lives. To some, maybe, they're more important.

Each of the collective 11 scenes lasts mere minutes and usually employs no more than two actors on-stage at a time, with no more than three actors in any given scene. But the beauty of the script is its poignant, witty, heartbreaking, and hopeful look at the one thing that bonds these characters under the Northern Lights on a bitter Maine night: love.

When director Catherine Bodenbender took center stage at the show's precise curtain time, she reminded the audience to silence their phones and provided a few additional tidbits of information. And then – like a stage manager would typically do behind the scenes – she yelled, “Actors: Places!”, and the cast marched out from their backstage dressing area and took their seats behind the audience. I thought: “This is gonna be cool.”

On the night of August 25, this one spoken line stuck in my head like newly poured concrete – clammy and heavy while slowly thickening in my mind. I can only imagine that most of us have been stuck at some point, but this didn't refer to the everyday kind of stuck. It wasn't about something normal such as being trapped in traffic, or having writer's block, or doing the same workout over and over. No, this question asked in a play referred to an endless hamster wheel of shame and humiliation stigmatized by one poor life choice.

I am biased. Because as a former member (1985-86) of our area's performing wait staff of Bootleggers, I watched No Business Like Show Business feeling proud, and even blessed, to experience this stage retrospective – a celebration of the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's 40 years of producing live theatre in the Quad Cities.

Across the street from my childhood home was an open lot with worn-down dirt spots and paths etched into the grass, shaping a makeshift baseball diamond – like something from the film The Sandlot. I played ball there every summer, all summer, from kindergarten through high school, and getting a new baseball glove was always the best, except when you initially put the glove on your hand and realized it was stiff and awkward.

Everybody wants to see that hot, innovative musical. You know the one. It’s cool and diverse, sexy, sacred to its fans, and combines hip music and lyrics with some phenomenal choreography. The one in which a man and woman fall into a forbidden love that takes place amidst a bloody war between rival armies with a deadly duel as part of its climax. C’mon, you know the show I'm taking about, right?

No, not Hamilton. Sheesh.

Emily Gulden, Sarah Goodall, Anna Marie Myatt, Becca Brazel, Don Denton, Shelley Walljasper, Keenan Odenkirk, Max Robnett, and J.J. Johnson in Zombie Prom

I mean no offense, but I just have to get this off my chest: Zombie Prom – the first production in the inaugural season of new theatre company the Mississippi Bend Players, directed by Broadway veteran Philip Wm. McKinley – is dumb. There, I said it. I mean, we're talking about a kitschy, '50s-era musical comedy in which a pubescent zombie goes to a high-school prom, for God's sake.

But before QC theatre elites call for my head, hear me out, because the gift of having a talent such as McKinley helm this type of production is that he knows how to create a show boasting a complete vision, and he also utilizes top-level talent to take a silly script and turn it into something exceptionally entertaining.

It's opening night, and it's intermission at the QC Theatre Workshop. I wander out into the warm evening for some fresh air, wondering what, exactly, I'm witnessing. I mean, it doesn't really fit into any genre or theatrical category I can recall previously seeing. And yet, it's not only entertaining; it's exciting. At times, I feel as if I'm watching a silent movie in a nickelodeon. No, it's more like a sketch comedy. Wait: It's really a fable or children's story. A-ha!

As the clock approached 7:30 p.m. on a refreshingly cool and clear mid-April Saturday, the old barn beckoned like a silent sentinel as my wife and I wove our way up the meandering hill. While approaching the main entrance, the imposing presence at the ticket window asked quietly, eerily, if we had reservations. We said we did, and he motioned for us to climb the stairs leading us to the loft. I swallowed hard and took my time, stretching out each step knowing that I was ascending ever closer into the darkness, the unknown, and into a night of murder. Bwa-a-a-a-h Ha-a-a-a-ha-a-a-a-ha-a-a-a-a-a!!!

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