As a Broadway classic, Hello, Dolly! is one musical I’ve always known about but have never actually seen. Director Lora Adams’ Black Box Theatre production, meanwhile, is a lighthearted tale that enchants from start to finish, so unless you’re a certified fun-hater, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this show.

Director Michael Brindish’s production is the perfect introduction to this venue; even the Rock Island theatre's seasoned patrons are in for a treat. While this Mamma Mia! felt familiar – here I go again – there were a few tricks up its sleeve, making it, for me, a unique experience.

Admittedly, Oliver! is one of those musicals that instantly takes me back to my formative years, as I fondly remember watching the 1968 film version at school and at home. It would have taken a total disaster for the Spotlight Theatre to leave me disappointed. Luckily for everyone, though, director Sara Tubbs’s production is a sensory delight: it looked and sounded terrific. Sure, the “unwashed” youth of this production went a little extreme with the makeup's dirt smudges. But if given the chance, who wouldn’t overly grime up, right?

I’ll be honest: The crazy, early-spring, heavy snowstorm that knocked out power to my house earlier in my Saturday soured my mood, and I was not really looking forward to going out to see playwright Bradley Robert Jensen's Anywhere But Here. This, though, made it all the better that this workshop production turned out to be such a gem – Jensen's slice-of-life piece is heartfelt and laugh-out-loud funny while still broaching some heady topics.

A sparse set is on the Village Theatre stage for the New Athens Players' debut of Spotlight on Susan Glaspell, and this minimalistic choice is to be lauded, as letting the words and stories take the forefront was an excellent decision; there’s a lot of meat that doesn’t require extensive visual splendor to make a point.

From the click of the pastry cutter against the mixing bowl to the struggle with cling wrap (we’ve all been there), the familiarity of Miriam's process in Apples in Winter brought an overall comforting quality to a plot that’s primarily distressing.

When I first got to the Mockingbird on Main on Friday, I immediately noticed that the theatre itself smelled wonderful … and Christmas-y. My sentiment was shared by a fellow patron, whom I overheard sharing her comment to associate director and producer Douglas Kutzli. I also overheard Kutzli say that most of his job working on the production involved saying “No, Tristan, that’s not funny” to the show's director Tristan Tapscott. But here’s the thing: I wish Kutzli had said that so much more. Because while there was nothing about this A Christmas Carol that was bad, gosh darn it, despute valiant efforts, it just wasn’t all that funny.

If you’re looking for a joyful way to feel a little extra Christmas-y this holiday season, might I suggest Santa Claus: The Musical at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse? This one-hour children’s-theatre offering packs a solid punch of yuletide warmth, and no matter how old you are, I wager you will appreciate this charming little tale.

On Saturday night, I had the great pleasure of introducing a friend to The Producers. Her only prior knowledge of the show was me incessantly singing “Springtime for Hitler” at her and my assurances that the musical was funny. And director and Spotlight Theatre co-owner owner Brent Tubbs and his talented cast of 29 held up their end of the bargain, offering a virtual – and visual – smorgasbord of humor.

If you were to tell me a marriage could teeter on the brink of destruction simply due to the addition of a dog … I’d have countered that no one would let canine conflict get that far. Only that’s exactly what happens in the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's production of Sylvia, written by A.R. Gurney and directed by Kathy Graham. Friday’s performance ultimately left me feeling like I am killing it with marriage, as both my husband and I agree on our position on getting a dog: While they’re great, dog ownership simply isn’t for us.