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.

Life is full of many different highs and lows that make up the human experience. We may have trials and tribulations, unexpected loss, unforeseen disappointment, and sadness, but we also have happiness, joy, and love. Memories are stored in our brains that, over time, can fade or become distorted. Now what would it be like if we downloaded those memories into a computerized holograph? So goes this science-fiction play by Jordan Harrison, called Marjorie Prime.

It was Sunday, October 30 in 1938 New York, and the country was on edge as Orson Welles went live via Madison Avenue and the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in a Halloween episode hosted by Mercury Theater on the Air. A dramatic, science-fiction radio play, the program caused panic amongst communities who mistook the broadcast for real-life events as alien invaders, described in detail, appeared ready to take over the world.

That's the real-life tale told in the Black Box Theatre's unique production of War of the Worlds: A Radio Play, and while Friday's performance was only about an hour long with no intermission, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Based on the novel by H.G. Wells and adapted from the radio-play script by Howard E. Koch, this singular story directed and designed by Lora Adams is quite different from the theatrical productions I typically attend – and different in a good way.

There was a sanctuary in the sanctuary, and what a gorgeous venue: the Spotlight Theatre nestled inside the old Scottish Rite Cathedral in downtown Moline. Consequently, you could feel the excitement in the air for the opening night of co-owners and co-directors Brent and Sara Tubbs’ first musical, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. And boasting songs from the Disney film, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and a book by Peter Parnell (based, of course, on Victor Hugo's novel), this production was the perfect opener for this magnificent site.

In the words of Oscar Hammerstein, “A song’s not a song 'til you sing it” – and sing they did at Tuesday's dress rehearsal for Quad City Music Guild's musical revue A Grand Night for Singing.

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.

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