Cara Moretto, Cory Boughton, Jacqueline Keeley, Elizabeth Loos, Tristan Tapscott, and Theresa McGuirk in Boeing-BoeingThe Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's production of Boeing-Boeing is a colorful rendition of French playwright Marc Camoletti's classic farce - and that's just the set and costumes. Scenic designer Susan Holgersson's and costume designer Gregory Hiatt's combined use of bright primary and secondary colors is stunning, with Holgersson's seven-door set providing delight even before the opening of this comedy's proverbial curtain.

Karl Hamilton, Paige ManWaring, and Matt W. Miles in Big FishThough I've watched the film version several times and viewed a staging of its musical earlier this summer, the Timber Lake Playhouse's production of Big Fish still had me choking back tears despite my (over-)familiarity with the material. That's in no small part due to the magic in director James Beaudry's staging, the cast's endearing rendering of the supporting characters, and Karl Hamilton's captivating charm as Edward Bloom, the father at the center of this tale of tall tales.

Gary Adkins and Mischa Hooker in Oedipus RexDespite the oppressive heat, the abundance of hungry mosquitoes, and the young couple behind me rudely whispering during the entire length of the performance, I not only enjoyed but admired Saturday's presentation of Genesius Guild's Oedipus Rex. Director Dori Foster's dynamic staging - which is especially dynamic for a Greek tragedy performed mostly in masks - and the cast's impressive ability to emote without the benefit of facial expressions were well worth the night's distractions.

Cody Jolly and Matt Webb in Greater TunaDuring Thursday's performance of the Timber Lake Playhouse's Greater Tuna, I enjoyed comparing and contrasting the comedic styles of cast members Matt Webb and Cody Jolly. Each comical in their own rights, Webb and Jolly are distinctly different in their portrayals of the residents of Tuna, Texas, in playwrights Jaston Williams', Ed Howard's, and Joe Sears' two-person, 20-character play about a day spent in this small town.

Dolores Sierra in CatsOne of the biggest stars of Quad City Music Guild's take on Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats never appears on stage, though her mark is rarely invisible the entire time, as designer Sara Wegener is responsible for the costumes, makeup, and wigs worn by the musical's cast of felines. Obviously drawing inspiration from the original West End and Broadway productions, it's a bit of a shame that the intricacy in her makeup, in particular, isn't fully discernible from the audience, because the detail in her work is exceptional. Adding her spiked-fur wigs with plush fabric ears, and her bodysuits and loose shirts and pants colored to look like various cat coats, Wegener's contributions are award-worthy.

Big Fish ensemble members, photo courtesy of Avenue StudiosAdam Nardini deserves credit for making Countryside Community Theatre's Big Fish so endearing. Playing the father at the center of composer Andrew Lippa's and playwright John August's story - one based on the novel and Tim Burton film of the same name, the latter of which found Albert Finney playing Nardini's Edward Bloom - the performer is in excellent voice and remarkably engaging as this teller of tall tales. While he doesn't adjust his performance to accommodate age differences while traveling from high school to early fatherhood to late-life, Nardini is still one of the best things that Countryside's piece has going for it.

Derrick Bertram, Joseph Brune, Kate Struble (center) and ensemble members in SeussicalIt is with no hesitation that I admit adoring Stephen Flaherty's and Lynn Ahrens' musical Seussical, for which Flaherty wrote the music and Ahren the lyrics, with both collaborating on the book. Though it seems a children's play, the lyrics, melodies, and harmonies are sophisticated and memorable, and knowing how much I like this piece - and remembering the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre's excellent Cats from earlier this summer - I couldn't set aside my expectations prior to Thursday's Showboat performance, certain I was in for a theatrical treat. Director Matthew Teague Miller did not disappoint.

Holly Moss and Rosie Upton in Peter PanThere's magic in the Timber Lake Playhouse's Peter Pan that reached my inner child and set him dancing. Even knowing that Rosie Upton's title character would fly, I still got chills when scenic designer Benjamin Lipinski's grand windows were flung open and the forever-young boy floated through them. And that thrill only took a break during the production's intermission, otherwise staying with me during its entire two hours.

Tristan Tapscott, Sara Tubbs, and Jacob Kendall in A Few Good MenWith its ornate ceiling and fascinating, borderline-gaudy hanging light fixtures in the District Theatre's new home in the former Rock Island Argus building, A Few Good Men seems an appropriate inaugural production, in that the space looks like a courtroom - at least while you're looking up. Following the company's sometimes uncomfortable (for patrons) stint in its previous, rather cramped venue, this open area with the ceiling rising two stories above the floor is a much welcome relief, allowing director Lora Adams' staging of Aaron Sorkin's courtroom drama to breathe in ways that, for the District Theatre, it otherwise couldn't have.

Bryan Woods, Bob Hanske, Michael Hill, and Andy Curtiss in The Merry Wives of WindsorGenesius Guild's The Merry Wives of Windsor is a study in comedic styles, particularly in comparing the portrayals of Bob Hanske's lothario Falstaff and Andy Curtiss' hot-headed Ford. Hanske offers a vocally robust - and, thanks to costume designer Ellen Dixon, physically robust - performance that's delightfully buffoonish in his mannerisms and goofball inflections. Curtiss, on the other hand, plays his part of the jealous husband whose wife is coveted by Falstaff almost without accentuating its humor, choosing instead to allow his fluctuating anger to carry the comedy. And both actors are hilarious in their roles, stealing the show every moment they're on stage.

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