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.

Jason Platt and Ed Villarreal in The 39 StepsJudging by Friday's performance of The 39 Steps at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre, it's apparent that director Tom Morrow likes sight gags and British humor. He handles playwright Patrick Barlow's comically melodramatic take on the 1915 spy thriller - and Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film - with care, avoiding over-the-top staging but highlighting the humor in ways that elicit a lot of laughs. (Whereas overselling the gags would likely elicit groans.)

Cari Downing, Lauren Vickers, and Jackie Madunic in Anton in Show BusinessThank the theatre gods for Denise Yoder, as her presence livens up New Ground Theatre's production of Anton in Show Business every moment she's on stage. Portraying a handful of characters, Yoder really gets to showcase her range; whether she's playing a somewhat ditzy stage manager, or a race-conscious black woman directing a play-within-a-play, or a self-assured, bad-joke-telling, male underwriter, Yoder's sense of pace and comic timing are flawless. (Her director is a particular hoot, and her aggressively annoyed attitude as the stage manager T-Anne - who grows more and more impatient throughout the piece - is hysterical from beginning to end.)

(left to right, from the top) Tartuffe's Brianne Kinney, James Driscoll, Jessica Sheridan, Kitty Israel, Denise Yoder, Stephanie Moeller, Angetha Rathman, Jeb Makula, and Andy CurtissThere are so many smart line deliveries in the Prenzie Players' Tartuffe that I could gush over each one here and still not have space for half of them. From Stephanie Moeller's forceful proclamation "I'm timid!" to Jessica Sheridan's delightfully wicked warning about being stuck with the unbearable title character "each day ... and night ... for life," Friday's performance had me cackling over and over again. I won't, however, point to any more specific line interpretations, for fear of ruining the element of surprise. A large part of the production's humor lies in hearing its words delivered in unexpected ways.

Jim Driscoll, Stephanie Moeller, John Weigandt (foreground), Alec Peterson, and Travis Hedman (background) in Treasure IslandThe Playcrafters Barn Theatre's take on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson adventure novel Treasure Island - adapted for the stage by Ken Ludwig - certainly kicks off with a dynamic start. Director, lighting director, and set designer Jennifer Kingry's impressive recreation of a lightning storm is ominous and tense, as is the first scene aboard a pirate ship, and if the play's pirates portray any sense of threat, it is in these opening minutes, as they snarl at and descend upon a perceived traitor and treasure-map thief. The storm ends, however, as does the scene, and the rest of the play lacks the excitement set up at the start.

Harold Truitt and Jennifer Sondgeroth in The King & IQuad City Music Guild's current presentation of The King & I is colorful and handsomely mounted, and in one scene, at least, it's even surprising, particularly if you don't peruse the program's cast list before the production starts. (Please skip the next two paragraphs if you don't want the surprise ruined here.)

"Aida"There seems to be a pretty safe rule of thumb regarding the productions at Quad City Music Guild and the Richmond Hill and Playcrafters Barn theatres: When the actors appear to believe in their material (whether that material is strong or weak), the shows are terrific, and when they don't, they're not.