With freshly painted arches and some ghostly trees on the furthest front flats, set designer Miranda Callahan’s work on Medea was interesting enough to generally distract me from the gnats that were apparently immune to insect repellent.

I didn’t know much about John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves before attending Saturday’s performance, and to tell you the truth, now having seen the Playcrafters Nbarn Theatre's production directed by Kathy Graham, I still feel like I’m missing key insights.

Director Aaron Baker-Loo created a memorable musical production – though, admittedly, I found the whole saga more depressing than I remembered. Luckily for the Spotlight, their presentation is also an enchanting spectacle that is more than enough to keep even the youngest viewer interested.

Just a few performances in and I think it’s safe to say that the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse has a hit on its hands.

Let it be known: I’m not a true crime kind of gal. As such, the opening night of Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story at the Black Box Theatre was perhaps the most unsettling theatrical experience I’ve had in recent memory. I couldn’t quite get past the fact this was a true story. While it has certainly been dramatized – and as a musical, for Pete’s sake! – I found this somber tale quite disturbing.

It’s actually difficult to know where to begin. What started as a fairly straightforward tale about rescuing a crustacean from an upscale restaurant tank evolved into an existentialist crisis for almost every character as they collectively grappled with their current realities. While that sounds potentially deeper than you’re perhaps expecting, please note that Haus of Ruckus' Punk Rock Lobster is a comedy, and never takes itself too seriously.

At Friday’s performance, the laughs were riotous ones, and while this might not be intellectual humor, funny is funny.

Move over, Gilligan: There’s a new three-hour tour that’s more popular than yours.

If you find yourself at odds with gloomy October weather, walking into Moline's Black Box Theatre and its production of Suddenly Last Summer will brighten your spirits, given that you can’t help but be immediately impressed by the onstage greenery.

It’s always interesting when a season is rounded out with a previously unfamiliar title, and in the case of the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's season-ender, it’s Paul Slade Smith’s politically themed The Outsider.

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