James Driscoll and Sara Laufer in A 1940s Radio Christmas CarolThere are some delightful moments in Quad City Music Guild's holiday production A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol, including composer David Wohl's fantastic arrangements of classic carols, and inspired performances by some of the cast members portraying radio actors. When neither of these elements are present, there's also scenic designer Harold Truitt's layered, multi-level set with a plethora of pleasing décor, as well as costume designer Heidi Pedersen's impeccably-tailored period ensembles. It also boasts the fun of watching several local acting dynamos share the stage together.

'Daniel Rairdin-Hale, Allison Nook, and Emily Baker in 'Twas the Night Before ChristmasTwas the Night Before Christmas, at Circa's playhouse,

Is a play that`s about a large, loud, stirring mouse.

Bradley Hauskins plays Brierly - it's he who tells

Of a rodent, our star (that role`s Dan Rairdin-Hale`s).

Bill Peiffer, Robert Wamer, and Steve Marriott in Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa ClausThe kids cast in the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus are the best parts of the production, with Lena Slininger's Virginia and the rest of the children lending the proceedings a bright innocence - even when some youths are bullying Virginia about her worn-out shoes - that provides a welcome warmth to the holiday tale. Unfortunately, the kids aren't of central importance in this play that includes one of their names in the title.

John Antonin Dieter and Anthony Natarelli in Angels in America: Millennium ApproachesWith its emotional language and poetic imagery, Tony Kushner's Angels in America - the playwright's "gay fantasia on national themes" composed of two parts subtitled Millennium Approaches and Perestroika - is among my favorite scripts. And there are times at which the District Theatre's production of Millennium Approaches nails the nuances of Kushner's writing, allowing the beauty of his intent to be on full display.

Caciona Bernstrom, Chris Page, Ryan Mauritz, Mark McGinn, and Kelly Thompson in Clybourne ParkNew Ground Theatre's Clybourne Park, written by Bruce Norris as a sequel, of sorts, to Lorraine Hansberry's classic play A Raisin in the Sun, takes quite a bit of time to get rolling. But once it does, this exploration of racial tensions at different points in American history is wickedly hilarious. Director Chris Jansen effectively employs a slow, nearly dull pacing to build to a significant payoff, particularly in the second act, when the purposefully bland tone fits the play's scene of a neighborhood-association meeting. Following Friday's performance, I was amused at how, during the presentation, I went from being almost bored to laughing heartily.

first row - Hannah Hogue, Elisabeth Grafft, Colby Rapps, Amira Siddique; second row - P.J. Hilligoss, Joe Mroz, Yvonne Siddique, and Ben Klocke; third row - Jack Sellers, Jonathan Grafft, and Aidan Grafft in Cheaper by the DozenCheaper by the Dozen seems a perfect fit for a company such as the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre. It's a wholesome family tale - one featuring a large group of children - that suits the theatre's charm, and given playwright Christopher Sergel's endearing script, should easily please patrons.

the Irving Berlin's White Christmas ensembleAnnoyed by local radio stations that switch to 24 hours of holiday music on November 5, as well as stores that set up holiday displays before Halloween, I wasn't all that keen on seeing a Christmas musical in early November. However, Irving Berlin's White Christmas is my kind of holiday production: It's light on its emphasis on Christmas cheer, and plays out as a musical that just happens to take place ahead of the holidays.

Calvin Vo in Bat Boy: The Musical, photo by Jessica Sheridan, Shared Light PhotographyIt was with eager anticipation that I sat down to watch Friday's performance of the QC Theatre Workshop's Bat Boy: The Musical, especially knowing that Calvin Vo would be portraying the title role.

John D'Aversa and Giselle Gaztambide in The Passion of Dracula, photo by the Augustana Photo Bureau and Lauren Beckerand Amanda MooreIf any local-theatre venue sets the bar for scenic design, I'd make a case for Augustana College. Anyone who doubts the theatre department's candidacy should see its presentation of The Passion of Dracula, with its set that's the latest in a long line of remarkable constructs.

There's a line in the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's production of Sherlock Holmes & the Case of the Jersey Lily, delivered by Tommy Ratkiewicz's Oscar Wilde (yes, that Oscar Wilde), that goes, “People are either charming or tedious.” His observation is true of director John VanDeWoestyne's staging, too, and particularly of the show's cast members. Thankfully, though, several of the supporting actors bring a charm to the stage that lightens the mood, and makes playwright Katie Forgette’s script more bearable.

Pages