Quad City Music Guild's production of 9 to 5: The Musical is flat-out fun, with loads of laughs and major amusement delivered throughout the two-and-a-half-hour presentation. Friday's performance, for me, was one of the most enjoyable stagings of the summer, with exceptional performances from the musical's three main actors as well as several supporting cast members. The pit band, under the music direction of music Gregg Neuleib, didn't seem to miss a note during their dynamic accompaniment. And Erin Churchill's peppy choreography seems of a higher level of difficulty than is customary at Music Guild, but in a welcome way, as the show's ensemble proved up to the task. With its perfect pacing and high energy, and under the capable direction of John VanDeWoestyne, I'd say Music Guild has a definite hit on its (stage)hands.
In the beloved Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland films of the 1930s, staging a full-length musical production seemed ridiculously easy: A bunch of talented youths would simply unite with the rallying cry "Let's put on a show!"
Yet according to Lori Potts, director of the area vocal-jazz ensemble the Quad City Singers, her group's inception came about just as simply - although the rallying cry, in that case, was more along the lines of "Let's put on a concert!"
"It was really just kind of casual," says Potts of the Quad City Singers' 1994 beginnings. "Just friends getting together and deciding, 'You know, we like to sing, so let's form a group and see what happens.'"
There was no lack of spectacular work done in area theatre this year, and the following list is hardly exhaustive. But if you were fortunate, you caught at least a few of these 12 performances in 2008; whether taking on a leading role, a supporting role, or (in one case here) the only role, these gifted artists commanded the stage. And, hopefully, your attention.
So, fellow fans of the former Brew & View, there's good news and bad news:
The good news is that the building that housed this haven for independent releases (and those who love them) will once again be open for business.
The bad news is that it won't be screening independent movies. Or, for that matter, movies of any kind.
Yet while the hearts of film lovers might break, those of theatre lovers should rejoice, as Derek Bertelsen and Tyson Danner realize a live-entertainment dream with the August 10 unveiling of the Green Room, their new theatrical venue at 1611 Second Avenue in the District of Rock Island.
Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in theatre knows that if your first dress rehearsal goes even the least bit well, there's cause for celebration. Having seen the first dress of the Quad City Music Guild's You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown this past Sunday, I can assure the production's participants: There's cause for celebration, because things appeared to go considerably better than "the least bit well."
The comic-strip world of Charles M. Schulz's "Peanuts" characters has long delighted children, and the original, 1967 production of the musical You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown - with its cheerful tunes and hummable score - has long been a staple for young performers, having been consistently produced in high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools across the country.
As Belle, the heroine of the Quad City Music Guild's Beauty & the Beast, Jenny Winn is a complete cartoon, and I mean that in the best way possible. It's generally thrilling when performers deviate from the expectations associated with a well-known character, but playing a role exactly the way an audience expects it to be played has its own rewards, and in Beauty & the Beast, Winn gives such a flawless approximation of a living-and-breathing animated figure that you might find it impossible not to stare at her with a big, goofy grin plastered on your face.
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