Whenever I visit Geneseo's Richmond Hill Barn Theatre, I'm reminded of how wholesome, welcoming, and beautiful this location in the Midwest is, and how this unique venue is truly a lovely place to take in a show. The players’ latest production, author Jack Sharkey's Missing Link, is a marital comedy full of all kinds of twists and turns, mistaken identities, and romantic conundrums, and it gives patrons a lighthearted look at the things we do for love.

What a magical Saturday afternoon I had at the Timber Lake Playhouse enjoying the company's latest summer production of Into the Woods, a storybook brought to life with fabulous fables and folk tales including those of Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood.

Noises Off, by English playwright Michael Frayn, is a 1982 comedic farce of epic proportions, and you will likely either love this show or hate it. The guy sitting next to me, for instance, did not come back after intermission. The lady in front of me laughed hysterically. And an older fellow in the front row seemed to be dozing off. So there was definitely a wide range of audience reactions to this gag-filled production.

The Mississippi Bend Players' third season opened on Friday with Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues, a tribute to our military veterans and all the brave men and women who currently serve this great country. This second installment in Simon's semi-autobiographical comedic trilogy – one that begins with Brighton Beach Memoirs and concludes with Broadway Bound – had me rifling through my purse to find a tissue to dry my eyes, given that they were watering so much from laughter. Director and St. Ambrose University theatre professor Cory Johnson, who also gave us MBP's Brighton Beach in 2017, delivered a hilarious show that was not only extremely funny, but touched on some very serious subject matter.

Paraphrasing from the latest presentation at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, “If you need musical medication, the Holiday Inn fills the prescription." And June 7's opening night for this Irving Berlin spectacle was certainly therapeutic, delivering a fantastic, high-energy, fast-paced, never-a-dull-moment performance. With its seasoned dancers and strong vocals, you'll thoroughly enjoy this production. It does not disappoint.

Mermaids seem to be popular with the kids nowadays. There are local advertisements for actual swim lessons in which children wear mermaid tails and are instructed on how to navigate the water. And Saturday’s matinée-under-the sea-performance of Disney's The Little Mermaid at the Timber Lake Playhouse had tiny-tyke patrons all dressed up in their mermaid tails and crowns just so they could be like their favorite princess Ariel. What a fun way to kick off the inaugural show in the theatre’s 2019 summer season!

I had the pleasure of attending Wednesday night's rehearsal of Marie & Rosetta at Moline's Playcrafters Barn Theatre, and it was so refreshing to experience a true gospel music production.

What’s it like being big? I guess it all depends on perspective and age. After all, adulthood is filled with all kinds of responsibilities and stress that accompany being grown; when we're young, we wish to be old, and when we’re old(er), we yearn to be young. So goes the storyline for Big: The Musical, the lighthearted comedy now playing at Moline's Spotlight Theatre. And Friday’s opening-night performance was loads of fun for everyone.

JC is in the house – by which I mean Quad City Music Guild's really modern-day Jesus Christ Superstar, a production complete with skinny jeans, loafers, and cell phones. Friday's opening-night performance of this classic with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice was still working out its bugs; there were missed microphone cues in which you couldn't hear the beginnings of songs, and personally speaking, I was a bit confused by Heather Blair's costume design, as it appeared that every actor just went into their closets and picked out something peculiar to wear. But straight out of the gate, Adam Sanders' Judas Iscariot, at least, was powerful in his rendition of “Heaven on Their Minds.”

A cold chill ran through the Playcrafters Barn Theatre at Friday's opening-night performance of Arthur Miller's 1953 play The Crucible; a riveting, partially fictionalized story about the hysteria that took place during the Salem Witch Trials in the Puritan town of Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1692. A group of young women are accused of casting spells, communing with the dead, and putting curses on children. The subsequent Salem Witch Trials, meanwhile, consisted of depositions, legal proceedings, hearsay, evidence (or lack thereof), and religious leaders of the day investigating alleged heresy and evil-doings involving the practices of witchcraft and black magic. Director Patti Flaherty delivered a provocative and captivating production that kept you interested and on the edge of your seat.

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