I knew nothing about Five Women Wearing the Same Dress when I walked into the Playcrafters Barn Theatre on Tuesday evening. But it makes the experience even more satisfying when a show goes beyond my expectations. This one did.

The Clinton Area Showboat Theatre's production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder is likely the most purely entertaining show I've ever seen. Everything exists to delight, laugh at, or marvel over – as long as you can accept murder as entertainment, which humanity has been doing for at least 2,500 years of recorded history.

Though it expresses both the highs and lows of life, the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's Avenue Q – the three-time Tony winner with music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx and book by Jeff Whitty – is an uplifting treat overall, packed with superb performances.

The Black Box Theatre's Silent Sky, by Laura Gunderson, is uplifting and brilliantly executed. First produced in 2010, the play follows the adult life of far-seeing astronomer Henrietta Leavitt beginning in the late 19th century. Because she is a woman, she's only allowed to do “scut” work – categorizing and cataloging thousands of stars; a daunting task. However, she used the drudgery to pursue and discover a shining truth which changed our understanding of the universe.

I saw Augustana College's exhilarating April 27 production of the musical How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying – the 1961 show that was adapted for film in 1967, and that won seven Tonys, boasts a script by Abe Burrows, Jake Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert and music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, and is based on the book by Shepherd Mead. When you see it, arrive early, so you have time to gaze properly at RaeEllen Walker's dazzling, Art Deco-inspired set with its white floor and black "marble" inlay, turquoise columns, and gold-trimmed black mezzanine and stairs.

Don’t let the title of the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's Grumpy Old Men: The Musical fool you. I was expecting much yelling at young-'uns and kvetching over chessboards. It’s actually a colorful, fast-paced feast containing no young-'uns (but, yes, one chessboard).

Stepping into the beautiful Richmond Hill Barn Theatre is always a pleasure, with the warmth of the rustic wood floor and walls, comfortable seats, and professional-grade technical equipment creating an expectation of a fine dramatic experience. The current On Golden Pond delivers.