Over the past 10 months, the stage space at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre in Moline has been transformed into a ballpark (for the venue's production of Rounding Third), an Italian villa (for Enchanted April), and the entire town of Bedford Falls (for It's a Wonderful Life).

But these days, after climbing the stairs to the second level of the Barn, the first thing you notice about the set for Sweet & Hot: The Songs of Harold Arlen (running through May 21) is something more unexpected than anything found on those previous sets: a piano.

 

 

In the realm of educational theatre, the rehearsal process for a main-stage show generally lasts several weeks, if not months. It can

be hard work. Yet if the selected material gives actors and directors enough to work with, what could be a laborious process is, for its participants, more often a joy.

"There's something about being in a live theatre," says St. Ambrose University Professor of Theatre Corinne Johnson, "and experiencing that moment with the actors and, maybe more importantly, with the audience.
Author's note: Prior to my full-time tenure at the Reader, I worked at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, and for Dennis Hitchcock, for 11 years. This was one of those rare interviews that didn't start with a handshake, but rather a hug.

After the most successful nine-month run that Iowa City's Dreamwell Theatre has ever seen, this sm

all company - which has long performed on borrowed stages and only recently secured a space of its own - is homeless once more.

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.
The idea started with a traffic jam. "This was two years ago," says local poet and storyteller Shellie Moore Guy, regarding the origin of her domestic-abuse performance piece Healing Waters: I Will Carry My Sister's Pain.

Like many who wind up pursuing a life in the theatre, Camanche, Iowa, native Dave Bonde never intended to; his plan was to secure a B.A. in Mass Communication. Yet after appearing in his first theatrical production at St. Ambrose University in 1991, Bonde found himself hooked by the allure of the stage, partly because of its connection to his own field of study.

How wonderful and humbling the last eight months have been.

When you hear director Kevin Pieper describe the Quad City Music Guild's production of A Christmas Carol as "a new show to the area," it's easy to be skeptical. Haven't we already seen this holiday chestnut - and in this area, no less - more times than we can count? (Hell, I've been in it twice since 1994.)

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