Christine Barnes with Brian Cox and Brian Bengtson in "The Miser" Of course, the people who are most essential to the success of area theatre are the ones ponying up the dough to get it produced (and this includes you, my ticket-buying friends). But it's hard to imagine the theatre year being as enjoyable as it was without the contributions of the following 12 individuals, each of whom added considerable flair to several area productions - oftentimes at several area venues - in 2006.

Being offered the role. I'm at work. The phone rings. It's Ballet Quad Cities Artistic Director Matthew Keefe, asking if I'd be interested in playing Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker. All I hear is "Nutcracker." You want me to what? Play Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker, he repeats, a little slower this time. I'm still not sure I understand, but I'm flattered by the offer, and we agree to discuss it further the next day.

(Titles and dates are subject to change.)

 

Augustana College: Dead Man Walking (February), The Vagina Monologues (February), Festival of Short Plays (February), Stuff Happens (April). (http://www.augustana.edu/academics/theatre/department)

Harold Truitt and Mike Millar"The cast hates me," says local performer Andy Davis during a recent rehearsal break. "Our first cast meeting, they were introducing us all and I said, 'Yeah, I'm playing Potter ... ,' and everybody booed."

So why is Davis so happy about it?

Probably because the Potter he's playing is the hateful, wheelchair-bound Henry Potter of Bedford Falls, and the show he's rehearsing for is the Quad City Music Guild's production of It's a Wonderful Life: The Musical. Considering people's familiarity with - and love for - the Frank Capra classic of 1946, Davis should only have worried if he didn't get booed.

St. Ambrose University's "Narnia" "I'm the mom of the theatre department," says St. Ambrose designer Dianne Dye during an afternoon spent in the university's costume shop. "If people have a problem, or when they just want to gossip, here's the place to come."

"She is the mom," agrees the school's Galvin Fine Arts Center manager, Eileen Eitrheim. "Officially. Even I come down here when I have a problem."

I'd agree with the ladies' description of Dye's maternal countenance, except for one thing: Unlike Dye, my mother never greeted my arrival by offering me a piece of candy.

Pat Flaherty and Jason Platt in "The Winning Streak" In Lee Blessing's The Winning Streak, the locale is left unspecified; the only information the Tony Award-nominated playwright gives us is that the events transpire in "a city in the Midwest." But audiences can be forgiven for thinking there's nothing unspecified about it.

One of the play's seven scenes takes place "at the end of a dock." Another occurs at a sidewalk café within walking distance of a cathedral and an art museum. And, most tellingly, one takes place "in the stands of a major league stadium," where - to the delight of the show's protagonist - an eternally struggling baseball team is finally enjoying an unprecedented hot streak.

Could this, in fact, be Chicago, and could the beleaguered ballplayers be the Cubs?

Certainly, there was cause for concern.

Reader issue #604 When the Prenzie Players made their 2003 debut with Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, they did so at Rock Island's Peanut Gallery, which didn't have a proper stage and could only seat, at maximum, 40 people. The show had an inadequate budget (between $200 and $300), a run of only two performances, and no word-of-mouth; Prenzie's founders - Cait Bodenbender, John "J.C." Luxton, Aaron Sullivan, and Denise Yoder - had every reason to expect Measure for Measure to fail.

Yet Friday night's show played to a full house. And on Saturday ... .

"The Secret Garden" ensemble members Derek Bertelsen, whose production of the musical The Secret Garden opens at St. Ambrose University's Galvin Fine Arts Center this Friday, repeats a common theatrical refrain: "It's hard being a director."

Yet it's important to understand that what Bertelsen probably means is that it's hard being a director when you're his age, as he follows that statement with, "You watch the Tony Awards and, you know, most of the directors winning awards are in their 40s. So you're, like, 'I've got about 20 years. I can fool around.'"

Yes, you read that correctly. The man directing The Secret Garden, with its cast of 19, has to wait nearly two decades before he reaches his 40s. And, for the second year in a row, this theatre major at Millikin University has a rather adventurous idea of what constitutes "fooling around" on summer break.

The Bootleggers Murder. Madness. Cannibalism. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the wonderful world of Broadway musicals!

Or rather, welcome to The Bootleggers "On Broadway," the new, full-length production showcasing the talents of the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's performing wait staff. (The show runs at Circa '21 June 21 through 24.)

"I think my forte is storytelling. I just like to pretend. And any experience that I have where I believe the actor or actors are as close to pretending as possible? That's what gets me off, man. To me, that's what acting's all about." -- Tom Walljasper

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