The cast members in St. Ambrose University's production of Working offer a somewhat unexpected and altogether delightful sincerity in their portrayals of American workers in various trades. These young actors, after all, presumably don't have much, if any, career experience as full-time masons, receptionists, or prostitutes, among other professions. Yet they handle this musical as though possessing full knowledge of the experiences of the average worker, which, during Wednesday's dress rehearsal, helped me connect with the oftentimes funny, sometimes touching material.

Deborah Kennedy, Karen Pappas, and Andrea Moore in Funny, You Don't Look Like a GrandmotherThank goodness for second acts, because Saturday's production of the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's Funny, You Don't Look Like a Grandmother, with its first act that almost put my own mother-who-doesn't-look-like-a-grandmother to sleep, had us laughing fairly heartily during its second half. Director Ann Nieman's staging of this modern-granny revue is fun and comfortably paced, and her choreography is oftentimes peppy and clever, especially in the yoga-class number and the jazzy, early-20th-Century-styled footwork of the musical's high-energy "Grandmas to Go," which features the play's three leads - Karen Pappas, Deborah Kennedy, and Andrea Moore - singing gorgeous, tight, impressive Andrews Sisters-type harmonies.

Eric Landuyt, Jamie Bauschka, Melissa Hummel, Terri Nelson, Shawn Sutton, David Lane, and Victor Angelo in Marrying TerryReading through the program for the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's Marrying Terry filled me with eager anticipation for Friday's performance, as the cast is mostly composed of newcomers to either the Playcrafters stage or any stage. While it's fun to see familiar actors in different roles, it can be even more exciting to see fresh faces take to the theatre, and with this production, the new talents are a blend of fine actors and those who, with time, could become fine ones, too.

Adam Michael Lewis, Aaron Randolph III, and Mike Schulz in 'Art'I love Yasmina Reza's 'Art.' My infatuation with the playwright's script started four years ago when the piece was produced by the Curtainbox Theatre Company, and it brought me great delight to hear that the QC Theatre Workshop and director Tyson Danner planned to stage the play with the same cast that performed the material for the Curtainbox.

Jonathan Grafft and Nathan Johnson, and (clockwise from lower left) Mallory Park, Josh Wielenga, Sarah Ade Wallace, Andy Davis, Stan Weimer, and Jackie Skiles in Leading LadiesThursday's audience certainly enjoyed the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's Leading Ladies, judging by their loud snorts and uninhibited guffaws. Ken Ludwig provides plenty of fodder for laughter, as do director Tom Vaccaro and his cast, who hit the comedy's high notes pitch-perfectly. As for me, I didn't just giggle but laughed heartily right along with the rest of the crowd at least a dozen times.

Caroline Murrah, Melissa Weyn, Daryn Harrell, Lexie Plath, and Allison Hunt in Shout! The Mod MusicalShout! The Mod Musical is not only the most tolerable musical revue I've seen to date, but also the most enjoyable. With more substance than The Taffetas and less forced plot than The Marvelous Wonderettes, this girl-group celebration of 1960s songs is both cohesive and a whole lot of fun, especially given the Timber Lake Playhouse's current staging of it.

For me, the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's Bootleggers' show is a bi-annual delight. It's a treat to see the men and women who serve our salads, drinks, and desserts all year - and who perform for a few minutes prior to each production - get their own show. This is their chance to shine and, while Blame It On the Movies isn't quite as fun, overall, as past Bootlegger revues, its cast proves that they deserve more time in the spotlight.

the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre presents Alice in WonderlandThe Clinton Area Showboat Theatre's Alice in Wonderland is one of those productions that must be accepted for what it is. In this case, it's Lewis Carroll's classic story adapted for the stage by director Kristin Katsu and the company of Showboat interns, along with a few of this summer's cast members. In truth, much of the show plays like it was written by high school students (as it was), particularly the early scene in which the cast gathers on stage and shares their hurts, frustrations, and dreams. The teen-centric concerns involving acceptance and the hopes of making a difference in the world came off a bit pretentious during Friday's performance, leaving me thinking, "Ah, youth." However, these young actors delivered their sentiments with such earnest sincerity that the play is rendered more tolerable through their joy and excitement in sharing their creation.

Doug Kutzli, Chris Tracy, Matt Holmes, Wendy Czekalski, Mike kelly, and Bob Manasco in Monty Python's SpamalotThe District Theatre's Monty Python's Spamalot seems like an amateur talent show, particularly due to the limitations of the company's new performance space in Rock Island's former Grape Life venue. (The new locale is so small, it redefines "intimate theatre" in the Quad Cities.) Yet while the limited movement due to the lack of stage space creates an amateurish feel, I'm happy to say that much of the rest of Friday's production emphasized talent. If it was an intentional decision to present the material as a novice attempt to recreate Monty Python's (arguably) best-loved film, Monty Python & the Holy Grail, it was a smart one on director Tristan Tapscott's part. Space doesn't allow for a big production, so Tapscott embraces the limitations of the new stage area, and it works.

John B. Leen in Les MiserablesIf the Timber Lake Playhouse's production of Les Misérables is the only experience some theatre-goers will have with Alain Boublil's and Claude-Michel Schönberg's much-loved musical, I think that would be more than okay. Director Matthew Teague Miller and his cast and crew not only do justice to the material, but present it in a memorable way that, for me, actually improves on the long-running Broadway version. This is an exceptional production, boasting fantastic performances and exquisite imagery.

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