You Can't Take It with You For 2006's Year in Theatre recap, I included a list of 12 talents whose gifts couldn't help but be noticed, as they had performed exemplary work on a number of theatrical offerings during the year, oftentimes at a number of area venues.

It's the list so nice I'm doin' it twice!

King o' the Moon So enough of my opinions already. The following are reflections by Derek Bertelsen, Tyson Danner, Kristofer Eitrheim, Kimberly Furness, Jennifer Kingry, Mandy Landreth, J.C. Luxton, Jackie Madunic, Angela Rathman, Jalayne Reiwerts, Susan Simosky, and Doug Tschopp - local-theatre artisans who enjoyed a memorable 2007.

 

"Everybody's like, 'What happened?'"

That's Chris Jansen, artistic director of New Ground Theatre, recalling a common comment received in the months after June's New Ground production of Living Here at Davenport's Nighswander Theatre.

It turns out that something rather monumental has happened with New Ground, as Jansen and her organization have rented the Village of East Davenport's Turner Hall, and are in the process of having a number of local theatrical groups join them there. But you can certainly understand the concern of Jansen's audiences, as one of New Ground's most recent pieces appeared to be almost frighteningly prophetic.

Going Underground ensemble members There's an oft-repeated piece of advice given to fledgling writers: Write what you know. So, for his first original play, Christopher Morgan - a group psychotherapist living in the Ealing Broadway suburb of west London - did exactly that, fashioning the tragic-comic one-act Going Underground out of his own experiences and acquaintanceships. And it only took 6,875 hours of research to complete it.

Hairspray at the Adler Theatre On August 17, the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia marked the last theatrical production I'd see this summer - the 29th show I caught over the span of 12 weeks - and in truth, I'm kind of bummed that the season is over. But it will be nice to have a few days when I'm, you know, not working, so I'm also looking forward to the fall, when instead of 29 shows, theatre-goers only have the opportunity to see ... 38.

Jenny Winn, Christopher Thomas, and Sheri Hess in Into the Woods rehearsal 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.

Jay Berkow As the director of music theatre performance at Western Michigan University, Jay Berkow is well aware of the historical significance of Oklahoma!, which he is currently directing for the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse.

"It is kind of the grandfather, or the progenitor, of the contemporary musical-theatre piece," Berkow says, referencing the work's fame as one of the first "book musicals" in American theatre, wherein songs are fully integrated into the drama, and the lyrics and score are as essential to character understanding as dialogue.

634 Cover - Summer Guide 2007 Ted Neeley portrayed Jesus Christ in the 1973 film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's and Tim Rice's seminal rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. He is currently reprising the role in a national tour of the show, which lands at Davenport's Adler Theatre on May 23. And in between these gigs, Neeley has performed the part in numerous other touring productions, benefits, and, once, alongside a cast of grade-school apostles.

It's impossible to ignore the irony: Ted Neeley has now been playing Jesus for longer than Jesus was alive.

"Yeah, I've been doing it now for just over 2,000 years," says Neeley with a laugh.

Wilder Anderson in The Tempest When Rock Island's summer-theatre organization Genesius Guild opens Gilbert & Sullivan's comic operetta Patience on June 9 - taking place in the city's Lincoln Park, and co-produced with Opera @ Augustana - it will mark the group's first production in a half-century not under the helm of Guild founder Don Wooten, who retired at the end of last season. And when asked what it's like serving as Genesius Guild's new executive director, and assuming a majority of Wooten's tasks, Doug Tschopp has a succinct one-word answer.

"Wow."

Phil McKinley For St. Ambrose University's forthcoming production of Crème de Coco - being performed at the Galvin Fine Arts Center from April 20 through 22 - the school recruited guest director Philip William McKinley to helm what will be the world premiere of William Luce's one-act play. During his area tenure, McKinley is also teaching an advanced acting course at St. Ambrose, and in a recent interview, the director explained why honesty is essential in eliciting the best work from performers:

"I think a lot of times, people tell them what they think they want to hear, rather than tell them what they really do need to hear. And if they know that you're telling them something to make them better, or for their own good, they're totally receptive to it."

That seems like a perfectly logical method for directing student actors. But, at this point in our conversation, McKinley wasn't referring to student actors. He was referring to Hugh Jackman.

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