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.

Friday's opening-night performance of A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder at the Spotlight Theatre was hilarious, with a richly talented company of performers that blended together extremely well. This musical comedy was full of clever slapstick routines and catchy tunes executed by terrific actors who also have strong singing voices, and director Brent Tubbs did an outstanding job delivering a satisfying production that is sure to make you chuckle.

"All for one and one for all!" This is the heartfelt cry and motto of the famously swashbuckling musketeers that echoed throughout the Brunner Theatre Center auditorium in January 25's opening-night performance. Swordplay abounded as Augustana College's company of actors and stage crew presented the adventurous tales of playwright Ken Ludwig's The Three Musketeers, and the sword fights choreographed by director Jeff Coussens were superbly done, making for quite a lively evening.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it: The Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse is currently presenting Disney’s popular Broadway adaptation Newsies: The Musical! A high-energy entertainment loaded with incredible dancing and brilliant singing that packs a solid punch, the January 17 preview performance was already polished and didn't disappoint, and felt more like an opening-night performance as the cast delivered an exceptionally enjoyable show.

Missed sound cues, incorrect light cues, and a play within a play – so goes the Playcrafters Barn Theatre’s schizophrenic comedy (a work in progress), whose opening-night performance was quirky and full of mayhem. Anyone who has ever been involved in the art of theatre knows the process can become a crazy one, and this presentation gives audiences a firsthand view of what happens behind the scenes with a close look at rehearsals, a diversity of actor personalities, and an infamous, erratically temperamental director.

“God bless us, everyone!” is the heartwarming wish from the cast of writer/director Tristan Tapscott's and Countryside Community Theatre's A Christmas Carol musical, now playing at Princeton's charming Boll's Community Center along the banks of the Mississippi River. This delightful production is a pure and humble presentation of the classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge (Doug Kutzli) and his struggle to find purpose and love in his life, and Saturday’s show was full of both joy and sadness. But most of all it felt cozy. From the scrumptious desserts by Susan Burda, carefully displayed in a small booth at the rear of the theatre, to members of the cast greeting patrons before the show in full character and costume, the atmosphere was exceptionally festive.

I've always enjoyed the children’s-theatre presentations at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, and Saturday morning’s performance of Pinocchio brought me yet another magical experience that I thoroughly appreciated. A lighthearted, classic tale about a wooden puppet and his maker’s wish for him to become a real little boy, director Warner Crocker's show emphasizes a positive message about the importance of honesty and is filled with imaginative characters that bring this wonderful story to life.

Pages