Friday’s opening night of Tuesdays with Morrie found the Playcrafters Barn Theatre housing the largest audience I’ve ever seen there. It was almost unbelievable, then, that the intimacy of this two-man show directed by Jeff Ashcraft made me feel like the only person in the room – and I feel fortunate to have been a part of this production's history.

“Welcome to the Hotel California,” crooned the Eagles as the lights dimmed on Thursday's opening-night performance of California Suite at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre. It was the perfect – and, let’s be honest, most obvious – song choice for this straightforward production of Neil Simon’s comedy.

Every once in a while, you see a show in which all the pieces click and it becomes greater than the sum of its parts. In the case of Next to Normal, currently running at the Black Box Theatre, the intimacy of the venue was reflected in the intimacy of the material, and as such, director Kyle Schneider’s dark musical was extremely moving.

When you see a show and your biggest “complaint” was that the wine was too purple, you know you’ve seen something special. The Mississippi Bend Players have brought their A-game to the stage with the world premiere of Beginner’s Luck, a comedy that's not afraid to ask the big question “What do you want from life?” and manages to be completely satisfying without actually delivering a resolution.

Saturday night's performance of Thesmophoriazusae was a bit like the talent show at the end of summer camp. Featuring a lot of inside jokes, jabs at society as a whole, and many familiar faces, director Bob Hanske’s production serves as the wacky capstone to Genesius Guild’s summer of entertainment in Lincoln Park.

I grew up listening to ABBA's Gold: Greatest Hits (thanks, Mom!), so I felt right at home at Friday’s opening-night performance of Mamma Mia! at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse. But loving the iconic ABBA is not a prerequisite to enjoying director/choreographer Michael Matthew Ferrell’s fun-filled production.

A real-life confession: I typically spend Sunday evenings at home watching Netflix, so spending it in Lincoln Park with Genesius Guild's production of The Merchant of Venice was a refreshing change. While it is known as one of William Shakespeare’s “problem plays,” and I would agree with that assessment, this performance was still a great way to forget thinking about Monday.

It’s not often that I walk away from a show thinking about who I am as a person and how I can do better. Yet that is exactly what happened Friday night after the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's production of Clybourne Park, and director Alexander Richardson should be proud of his thought-provoking, darkly comedic production that demands more of its audience than the usual area-stage fare.

If you’ve never been privy to the theatre-audition process, you may not realize how intense and cut-throat an experience it can be, and as A Chorus Line – currently being presented at Quad City Music Guild’s Prospect Park Auditorium – teaches us, it’s not always about how talented you are; sometimes it’s merely who you know. But while that bias can be an unfortunate reality, Music Guild’s vast display of on-stage talent dazzles you into momentarily forgetting the injustice.

Heat-advisory warning notwithstanding, Genesius Guild's staging of Prometheus Bound in Rock Island’s Lincoln Park was an experience not to be missed. As with most Greek tragedies, there is a moral dilemma that can give audiences insight into their lives, and director Michael Callahan staged a meaningful production that remains relevant 2,500 years after it was was written. (Who would have guessed we’d still be battling tyrants?)

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