Before the start of Tuesday night's dress rehearsal for the Spotlight Theatre's The Happy Elf, there was a little bit of pre-holiday spirit in the air, with various cast members' children and siblings laughing and playing in the aisles, enjoying candy canes and cookies. However, once the performance started, they were as quiet as (dare I say it?) church mice. This may be the best indication of the musical's ability to hold the interest of a young audience.

Amidst the joys and festivities of the season, it wouldn't be the holidays if they didn't also come complete with a hearty cry of “Bah, humbug!” And from December 14 through 22, Countryside Community Theatre will deliver that cry – along with messages of hope and wonder and scores of beautiful music – in the Boll's Community Center production of A Christmas Carol, the seasonal delight boasting music and lyrics by Danny White and a book by the show's director Tristan Tapscott.

Nominated for three 2013 Tony Awards including Best Musical and described by Broadway World as “a twinkling Christmas delight,” the eagerly awaited touring production A Christmas Story: The Musical lands at Davenport's Adler Theatre on December 18, its score by the Oscar- and Tony-winning team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul inspiring the New York Times to write, “You'd have to have a Grinch-sized heart not to feel a smile spreading across your face.”

An American stage drama as powerful, affecting, and deeply relevant today as it was in its 1934 debut, Lillian Hellman's classic The Children's Hour will be produced in Augustana College's Brunner Theatre Center December 6 through 9, its tale of clandestine love and small-minded bigotry standing as a haunting reminder of the continued horrors of intolerance.

I've always enjoyed the children’s-theatre presentations at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, and Saturday morning’s performance of Pinocchio brought me yet another magical experience that I thoroughly appreciated. A lighthearted, classic tale about a wooden puppet and his maker’s wish for him to become a real little boy, director Warner Crocker's show emphasizes a positive message about the importance of honesty and is filled with imaginative characters that bring this wonderful story to life.

Thirty-five years ago, as her birthday present, I took my wife out for our first “classy” date to the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse. I had arranged for a dear friend (shout-out to Bill Sensenbrenner) to be our Bootlegger, and wanted to treat my wife to the thrill of seeing Circa '21 produce the musical Annie for the very first time. It was an elegant evening boasting a topnotch performance that we both remember to this day. Fast forward 35 years, and we found ourselves doing the exact same thing on November 9 by enjoying an elegant evening of food, friends, and Circa '21’s latest extraordinary production of – what else? – Annie!

Local Theatre Auditions/Calls for Entry

Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2018

Reviews by Jeff Ashcraft, Patricia Baugh-Riechers, Audra Beals, Dee Canfield, Kim Eastland, Emily Heninger, Heather Herkelman, Paula Jolly, Victoria Navarro, Mark Ruebling, Mike Schulz, Joy Thompson, Oz Torres, Brent Tubbs, Jill (Pearson) Walsh, and Thom White.

It must be a daunting task to adapt a film for the stage, and there are dozens of examples of movies – everything from Little Shop of Horrors to King Kong – reinvented for the theatre. But how can you even hope to take one of the most revered American films of all time, a non-musical no less, and turn it into a full-blown musical success? Easy. Do what Quad City Music Guild has done, and simply find good actors, a creative director, talented musicians, and other dedicated artists to recreate the holiday classic It’s A Wonderful Life in the form of the stage musical Miracle in Bedford Falls.

Boasting what the Washington Post called “fresh, off-kilter elements” and a score that “bubbles with New Orleans shuffle and sass,” the family holiday musical The Happy Elf makes its area debut at Moline's Spotlight Theatre December 6 through 9, its music and lyrics courtesy of none other than Grammy-winning and Tony-nominated music legend Harry Connick Jr.

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