Director Shelley Cooper, vocal-music director Maureen Holmes, and instrumental-music director Michelle Crouch led the performers, crew, and staff in Augustana's The Threepenny Opera, and I was confident that the theatre and music departments here could pull the show off beautifully. They did, with energy, enthusiasm, and so much talent. The expressive actors here are skilled beyond their years.

You've got playwright Ira Levin, and you've got the Black Box Theatre's talented staff and crew, so with Veronica's Room, you're already pretty much guaranteed a satisfying experience. But with the gifted cast Lora Adams has assembled, it's actually an outstanding one.

The Spotlight Theatre's Peter & the Starcatcher, directed by Whitney Fahner with music direction by Katie Griswold, is yet another of the venue's slick and stylish productions of a lively libretto, this one loaded with big on- and off-stage talent and clever staging.

What a treat it was to enjoy this fresh story, with rousing music, performed by some of the most passionate, committed actors I've recently seen – and to know that it was powered by local minds and hearts. So much work went into this treasure.

Each time I've attended a show at Augustana College's Brunner Theatre Center, I'm astonished by both the acting and technical brilliance. We had some great performers and techies during my St. Ambrose days, to be sure – but our theatre certainly wasn't equipped like this one. However, my justifiable envy doesn't lessen my enjoyment while at Augustana, including at Tuesday's dress rehearsal for The 39 Steps, directed by theatre professor Jeff Coussens.

Seeing a play by Lauren Gunderson at the Black Box Theatre is now one of my favorite pastimes. On Thursday, I attended the opening-night performance of Gunderson's The Revolutionists, and my third go-'round with this playwright and this theatre proves that they harmonize as deliciously as Brie and a baguette.

It was thrilling to walk into the Playcrafters Barn Theatre on Saturday and see a large crowd for Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, as about four-fifths of the seats were occupied. And director Teresa Moore, along with her staff, crew, and cast, put together a smooth-running, well-paced, lively, and all-around-enjoyable production.

Frankly, I was feeling a bit smug when I entered the Spotlight Theatre on Saturday night. Like many, I've seen The Sound of Music onstage, and the film several times. I know how the scripts and songs differ, and what to expect. Yet this production still astounded me: It's a grand, rich experience.

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some) is a 2007 comedy by John K. Alvarez, Michael Carleton, and James FitzGerald, I saw it at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre on Thursday's opening night, and it stars Jonathan Grafft as Jonathan, Nathan Johnson as Nathan, and Mike Kelly as Mike. These could be the parts they were born to play.

With this version of the Seussical script, director/choreographer Ashley Becher, musical director Shelley Walljasper, and their cast and crew have concocted an entertaining, gratifying experience.

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