Harmony France as Patsy Cline

As I watched the opening-night production of the Timber Lake Playhouse’s Always … Patsy Cline, I kept thinking of the word “harmony.” Thinking about musical harmony certainly was appropriate, as this was, after all, a stage musical. Then I reflected on how harmonies can be calming and tranquil or dissonant and disparate. Yet I still hadn’t been able to place why “harmony” kept going through my mind until it hit me that what I was seeing, hearing, and experiencing was true balance – an interweaving of two very different stories that were connected in the nearly perfect parallel of two actresses' performances. “Yes!”, I thought. “Harmony!”

Susan Perrin-Sallak, Brant Peitersen, and Mike Schulz in Inheritors

“The word 'theatre' comes from the Greeks. It means 'the seeing place.' It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation.” – Stella Adler

The QC Theatre Workshop's latest production, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (and Davenport native) Susan Glaspell's Inheritors, is rightly the place to look for one's truth in life, and to understand views on a diverse archive of social situations.

Kieran McCabe and Melissa Weyn in Gaslight

It was a dark and stormy night … . No, seriously – it really was a dark and stormy night on August 11, which, fortunately, enhanced the eeriness and prolonged the tension of the opening night for the Timber Lake Playhouse's final production of its summer season.

Ensemble members in Titanic

(SPOILER ALERT! The following may reveal details of the Timber Lake Playhouse's current production of the musical Titanic. Readers are advised to cease reading if they don't want to know how the story ends.)

Jay Berkow and ensemble members in The Music Man

When people are asked what they think of when thinking about Iowa, they mention the following in no particular order: corn, Grant Wood, corn, Field of Dreams, corn, Hawkeyes, corn, Bruce … um … Caitlyn Jenner, corn, pork, corn , and the final answer – Meredith Willson. A famous son from Mason City, Willson is best known for writing and composing the uniquely American musical-theatre classic The Music Man.

Erik Wilson, Alexander Toth, and Laurie Bawden in The Tender Land

It's 86 degrees on a humid Saturday evening in June, and sitting in Rock Island's Lincoln Park, it's easy to reflect upon a gold and pink summer sun setting in the west. To the south, the lights have just clicked on the basketball courts as a neighborhood pick-up game is in full swing. To the north, a young couple push their giggling toddler on the swings of the playground. And to the east, the lights are dimming on the Italian-Renaissance-inspired structure enveloped in the arms of the giant oaks as another evening of theatre in the park is set to begin.

As a child of the '60s and '70s, I favored rock groups such as Kansas. My older sister Shari loved pop music. For many kids, music was a way to escape the turmoil of those decades, and for Shari, it meant listening to Bobby Sherman or folk singer John Denver. Being the youngest, I sometimes teased her about the lameness of her music – and still do, for that matter. However, even for a precocious little brother, the music of Denver always struck a chord of enlightenment in my heart, and that's exactly what happened again at the Timber Lake Playhouse's opening-night performance of Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver.

"There's a hole in the world like a great black pit, and it's filled with people who are filled with shit. And the vermin of the world inhabit it, and it goes by the name of London."

No lyrics better summed up the setting for a musical than these particular lines from Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Augustana College's latest production delivers in filling the Potter Theatre with the polluted gloom and human hell that was 1840s London.

Jeremy Mahr in The Complete Word of God (abridged)In the beginning, Brent Tubbs directed a play. And the production was without form and void; darkness was upon the face of the show. And the spirit of Brent moved upon the three-person cast. And Brent said, “Let there be humor,” and there was laughter. And Brent heard the giggles, and it was good. And Brent said, “Behold, I have provided everything necessary for entertainment.” And he knew that it was heavenly … even though yours truly, on Saturday, missed out on several probably heavenly scenes.

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.

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