With the sentiment of the late Aretha Franklin and her famous song lyric, I extend R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the cast and crew of the Timber Lake Playhouse for delivering a most entertaining production of Larry Gallagher’s Beehive: The '60s Musical. The show's six posed, and composed, young actresses grabbed your attention from the start of Saturday's matinée performance, with each diva poised upon their platforms ready to explode with talent from the opening scene.

Soaring with melodies from another galaxy, the Timber Lake Playhouse's Forever Plaid is energetic, light-hearted, and funny in its nostalgic revue of 1950s close-harmony guy groups. Saturday's matinée performance of this outstanding production – directed and choreographed by Gregory Daniels, with the original musical arrangements by James Raitt – just kept getting more entertaining as the show went on.

We all know that dying is a part of life, but most of us don’t like to think about it. Being a cancer survivor myself, I know all too well what it's like to face death, and whether you're young or old, death does not discriminate. So when I went to see Saturday night's Tuesdays with Morrie – playwright Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of Mitch Albom's bestselling memoir – at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, I knew, based on its subject matter, that I was in for an emotional roller-coaster ride that would once again make me face the reality of my mortality.

“Mazel tov!” to the Timber Lake Playhouse and its cast of Fiddler on the Roof for eloquently executing this enduring musical with great passion and precision. The full company of performers, directed by William Hayes, delivered a terrifically entertaining production filled with traditional Jewish-dance numbers that were very well done, and I found myself fully engaged during Saturday's matinée performance – not only with the original Broadway choreography reproduced by Jessica Chen, but with each characters’ precarious plight.

W.C. Fields was famously quoted as saying, “Never work with children or animals,” probably because they're scene-stealing and completely unpredictable. And they certainly were, in the best way, when Thursday's opening-night performance of composer Lionel Bart's Oliver! played to a sold-out crowd at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre. At the show's start, dozens of exceptionally talented children, playing half-starved orphans, stormed the stage with empty bowls in their hands singing “Food, Glorious Food,” and this classic tale of struggle and hardship was immediately delivered with skilled, scene-stealing, completely unpredictable song-and-dance performances.

Does a wild hellhound prowl the moors of Devonshire? Leave it to the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes (Alex Rudd) and his distinguished assistant Dr. Watson (Max Bahneman) to solve this legendary case of an alleged curse in Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery at the Timber Lake Playhouse. In a totally marvelous theatrical display of talent and special effects, Saturday’s matinée performance was one of the best non-musical productions I’ve seen in a long time.

A disappearing body, missing evidence, blood on a chair, and a pursuing investigation – so goes the spirited comedy BusyBody, written by Jack Popplewell and directed by Joe DePauw. Sunday’s matinée performance at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre was rife with lively slapstick and subtle humor, taking us into the world of Mrs. Piper (Jackie Skiles), a spunky office cleaning lady who has stumbled her way into a murder mystery.

As the wind blew and the rain poured, I was concerned about making it to the current play at Augustana College's Brunner Theatre Center without being swept away by the currents of water flooding the streets of Rock Island. Thankfully, though – and with added thanks to Cart to the Art driver John D'Aversa – even a severe thunderstorm couldn't keep me from the Mississippi Bend Players' opening-night production of The Glass Menagerie.

It was a sweltering-hot day this past Saturday in the Quad Cities, but it was quite refreshing being under the sea with the cast of Disney’s The Little Mermaid at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre. As I sat back in my seat enjoying the music, I heard the precious young girl seated behind me sweetly singing along with the teenage mermaid Ariel (Aria Braswell) in a very soft voice. I realized then how powerful and influential this musical fantasy was, and still is, for children everywhere.

Bravo to the Mississippi Bend Players for magnificently transporting patrons back in time – back to when Huckleberry Finn (Quinn Rigg) and his humble slave companion Jim (LaRon Grant) traveled along the banks of the Mississippi River on a meager log raft – in the powerful musical Big River. Friday's opening-night performance at Augustana College's Brunner Theatre Center was simply stunning, with the entire cast reminding me why I love the fine arts.

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