Rock of Ages at the Adler TheatreWelcome to the Reader's annual article on springtime area-theatre productions, where our trek through the season's comedies, dramas, and musicals will have us taking a walk in the woods with Antigone, wandering into suburbia with Eurydice, and realizing that something's afoot in our town when Talley's folly makes Cinderella go boom on Avenue Q.

Okay, so that takes care of 10 upcoming titles ... only 50 or so to go ... .

We'll begin with the aforementioned - and now properly italicized - A Walk in the Woods, Lee Blessing's two-man dramatic comedy set at the height of the Cold War, which New Ground Theatre will stage March 8 through 17. The show precedes the company's springtime Playwrights Festival (April 19 through 28), an event that features eight debuting works by such local talents as Dee Canfield, Jason Platt, William Pepper, and Dana Moss-Peterson performed in repertory ... and an event that's also the mere tip of this spring's original-play iceberg.

In addition to the Englert Theatre's La Clemenza di Tito (May 2 through 5) - a Mozart offering being performed by the University of Iowa's Martha Ellen-Tye Opera Theater - the Iowa City venue will also house the debuting presentation The Broken Chord (April 12 through 14), Working Group Theatre's fact-based journey through the perils of memory loss. Bettendorf's Scott Community College hosts an original outing of its own with playwright John Turner's Hollywood comedy Blue Sky Merchants (April 11 through 20). Preceding Dreamwell Theatre's Iowa City staging of the boarding-school drama The Children's Hour (May 3 through 11) is the debuting virtual-reality thriller Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom (April 5 through 13). And the neighboring University of Iowa will not only host the studio-theatre debuts Book Wings (March 12 through 14) and Gay Marriage (April 4 through 7) but no less than 11 new offerings in the school's annual New Play Festival (May 5 through 11), a week-long series of readings, workshops, and productions featuring intriguing titles such as The Man in the Sukkah, The Zine of Grrrl, Free the ABC, and The Steve Plays - that latter one, interestingly, written by an author named Amanda.

Matt Moody and John VanDeWoestyne in New Ground Theatre's A Walk in the WoodsIowa City's university will also stage some classically familiar fare in August Strindberg's surreal A Dream Play (March 7 through 16) and the Oliver Goldsmith comedy She Stoops to Conquer; Or, the Mistakes of a Night (April 12 through 21), while Cedar Rapids' Kirkwood Community College tackles an updated Greek myth in Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice (April 11 through 14). Davenport's St. Ambrose University, which actually staged Eurydice last month, will go with existential angst and all that jazz this spring, producing Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit (March 21 through 24) in the Galvin Fine Arts Center's studio space and director Corinne Johnson's Fosse-rific musical Chicago (April 19 through 21) on the main stage. Students at Rock Island's Augustana College, meanwhile, will attack the comically acidic Eric Bogosian in director Jennifer Popple's SubUrbia (April 26 through May 5), while younger students - some as many as 15 years younger - don furry costumes and oversize masks for director Jessica Sheridan's Davenport Junior Theatre take on The Jungle Book (April 27 through May 5).

There will likely be small children aplenty in Theatre Cedar Rapids' musical mainstay The Wizard of Oz (April 26 through May 18), a production sandwiched between the venue's presentations of Karel ?apek's 1920 science-fiction comedy R.U.R. (April 12 through May 2) and Thornton Wilder's seminal small-town classic Our Town (June 6 through 16). The Starlighters II Theatre in Anamosa will deliver family-friendly laughs and tunes in the Broadway hit Once Upon a Mattress (May 10 through 19). Amana's Old Creamery Theatre has a kid-geared offering in The Life & Times of the Three Little Pigs (March 30 through April 13), along with the more grown-up fare of Talley's Folly (March 22 through 24), Freud's Last Session (April 4 through 21), The Last Romance (April 25 through May 26), and Cookin' with Gus (May 30 through June 30). And more kitchen-based shenanigans will be on hand courtesy of the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's 100 Lunches: A Gourmet Comedy (June 6 through 16), served right after the Geneseo venue offers up the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (April 11 through 21).

Over at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, the Way Off Broadway company's new production of the Kander & Ebb classic Cabaret (April 12 and 13) will lead to a hilarious musical comedy in Stephen Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (May 10 through 19), co-produced by the City Circle Acting Company of Coralville. Fewer than five miles away, Iowa City Community Theatre has the Broadway-behind-the-scenes hoot The Royal Family (March 8 through 17) and Rodgers & Hammerstein's timeless Oklahoma! (April 26 through May 5) on the springtime docket, with Iowa City's Riverside Theatre offering a staging of David Harrower's dark relationship drama Blackbird (April 5 through 21). Those who prefer their dark subject matter accompanied by broad laughs, however, won't be left out of the loop, as the Quad Cities-based comedy ensemble It's a Mystery will make merry of murder this spring in Skellington Manor stagings of Fairway to Murder (March 8, April 5, and May 3) and Murder in the Moonshinapalooza (March 22, April 19, and May 17).

Our area's classical-theatre troupe The Prenzie Players gets into the spring thing with their presentation of Jean Anouihl's Antigone (March 22 through 30), an adaptation based on Sophocles' Greek tragedy and directed by Catie Osborn. The Prenzies' latest will be performed at Davenport's QC Theatre Workshop, where director Tyson Danner will also stage a Workshop production of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's boom (May 2 through 18) ... a riotous end-of-days comedy that I'd rave about further if my assistant-directing and stage-managing duties for the show didn't make that inappropriate. (Seriously, though. Riotous!) Moline's Playcrafters Barn Theatre, meanwhile, has a pair of disparate offerings in store this spring, treating patrons to Pearl Cleage's Depression-era drama Blues for an Alabama Sky (March 8 through 17) right before the farcical nuttiness of Gary Ray Strapp's The Trouble with Cats (May 10 through 19).

Matt Madison, Rita Jett, and Vincent Briley in Blues for an Alabama Sky at the Playcrafters Barn TheatreOh, and is that music I hear in the about-to-be-spring air? It certainly will be at Rock Island's Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, which has a trio of tune-filled offerings scheduled: the eagerly awaited Church Basement Ladies follow-up A Mighty Fortress Is My Basement (March 13 through June 1), the long-running, hormone-driven Menopause: The Musical (June 5 through July 19), and, for younger crowds, a musical comedy that teaches kids How I Became a Pirate (April 11 through May 11). A few blocks away, the District Theatre will present the return of the Tony-lauded, ve-e-ery grown-up Sesame Street that is Avenue Q (March 15 through 30), while almost directly across the Mississippi, musicals will arrive in the Adler Theatre presentations of the '80s-hair-band spectacle Rock of Ages (April 20) and the E.L. James literary spoof Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody (May 7).

Two separate takes on Stephen Schwartz's hit biblical musical Godspell will be staged this spring, one at the First Presbyterian Church of Davenport (March 16 and 17) and one, produced by Rock Island's Center for Living Arts, housed at Moline's Riverside United Methodist Church (April 6). Our area's summer-stock seasons get a springtime jump with the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre's boy-crooner favorite Forever Plaid (June 6 through 16) and Mt. Carroll's Timber Lake Playhouse rendition of Michael Bennett's legendary A Chorus Line (June 6 through 16). Quad City Music Guild will offer up English-music-hall styles of the '30s - mixed with a healthy dose of Agatha Christie satire - in the cheeky comedy Something's Afoot (April 4 through 7).

And we end our spring-theatre analysis with music-filled productions that don't feature any of those pesky lyrics getting in the way: Ballet Quad Cities' stagings of the fairytale masterpiece Cinderella (April 20 at the Adler Theatre, with performances also at Cedar Rapids' Paramount Theatre on April 13 and 14), and the dance troupe's annual Lincoln Park presentations of the vignette-filled Ballet Under the Stars (June 7 through 9). That's right, folks: A theatrical evening under the stars is on our springtime horizon. Hopefully, no snow pants required.


For more information and the area's spring theatre productions, visit

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