The following is the Friday, June 25 broadcast of WVIK's "Midweek Week," with host Herb Trix discussing the area's summer-theatre season with the River Cities' Reader's Mike Schulz. "Midwest Week" can be heard on the program "All Thing Considered" on WVIK 90.3 FM - Augustana Public Radio, Fridays at 6:50 p.m.

Friday, June 25: mp3

scene from Stefano Brancato's 2009 production of IcarusWhen director/designer Stefano Brancato characterizes his forthcoming theatre workshops as "boot camp," the description is initially surprising, considering that the focus of the week-long area courses is puppetry. After all, as the 30-year-old Brooklyn resident says, "in a lot of puppetry, the performer, the puppeteer, is in a kind of static position," and not necessarily part of a piece's main action.

Yet for the two workshops that he'll be conducting through Davenport Junior Theatre - one designed for ages 10 through 18, one ages 18 and older, and both running June 14 through 19 - "boot camp" does seem an appropriate phrase, as Brancato states that he and Junior Theatre's artistic director, Daniel D.P. Sheridan, were hoping to "break the rules a little bit" in terms of what a puppetry course could entail.

J. Adam Lounsberry, Tracy Pelzer-Timm, Jenny Winn, and Nathan Bates in Quad City Music Guild's Guys & DollsAs with summer movies, the area's summer-theatre scene - featuring, at last count, a whopping 68 productions scheduled by 22 organizations - is jam-packed with escapist fare: musicals, comedies, mysteries, musical-comedy mysteries. But like the random art-house release that manages to sneak into Hollywood's blockbuster-centric season, this summer will also feature occasional dramas and classical works, plus no less than four Pulitzer Prize-winners - five, if you count one of them being produced at two separate venues.

Henry RollinsHenry Rollins' career has found him fronting the seminal hardcore band Black Flag as well as the Rollins Band, acting (in movies such as Heat and Lost Highway and the TV show Sons of Anarchy), hosting radio and television shows, writing books, and blogging for Vanity Fair. (He also made an appearance on the Flaming Lips' re-creation of The Dark Side of the Moon.) He's currently on a "talking" tour -- he says he dislikes the phrase "spoken word" -- that will stop at Davenport's Capitol Theatre on May 15.

Rollins' "Frequent Flyer" show covers his recent world travels. "Mid-October to mid-January ... I went all over the world just by myself with some camera gear and a backpack," he explained in one interview. "I started in Jordan and bounced through Saudi Arabia, the Brunei, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, China, Senegal, Mali, and then Dublin."

Because he was touring in Australia and Africa, Rollins wasn't available for a phone interview. But he graciously answered questions via e-mail.

Kyle Bornheimer(The following is Mike Schulz's interview with Curtainbox Theatre Company co-founder Kyle Bornheimer, written for the area organization's Web site TheCurtainbox.com.)

 

At the end of my recent interview with Kyle Bornheimer - the Curtainbox Theatre Company co-founder who stars on the new ABC sitcom Romantically Challenged - I asked the actor if he was hoping, one day, to trek from California to the Midwest in order to see one of the organization's stage productions.

"Oh, definitely," he said. "I'm so impressed with what Kim [Furness] has done with the company. We would sit in her living room and all dream about taking this thing to the next level, and she's done that, so I definitely want to make it out there."

In the meantime, of course, Bornheimer has kept himself more than busy out there.

Danielle Colby-Cushman (center) and the women of Burlesque Le' MoustacheFor many, LeClaire resident Danielle Colby-Cushman is best known as a co-star of the History Channel's hit reality series American Pickers, and the office manager for the city's collectibles shop Antique Archeology.

Yet for some, she's perhaps better-known as the director/founder of, and a featured artist in, the area's only practicing burlesque troupe, for which Colby-Cushman performs comedy routines, dances, and (yes) removes her apparel under the stage name Dannie Diesel.

And for those who have either not heard of this unique company of entertainers - performing at Davenport's Capitol Theatre on April 24 - or are unsure of what it is they do, Colby-Cushman offers an example, taken from troupe member Birdie Belleville's 2009 striptease debut.

Jessica Nicol White and Chris White in 2009's Almost, MaineOn February 11, Geneseo's Richmond Hill Barn Theatre opens its 43rd season with Wrong for Each Other, playwright Norm Foster's two-character comedy about a reunion between a long-estranged divorced couple. If, however, that seems an ill-fitting title to open over Valentine's Day weekend, know that the production's stars wound up receiving far more of a Happily Ever After ending than their characters did, as area actors Chris White and Jessica Nicol (White) were married this past Halloween.

Back in 2006, when I composed my first list of a dozen theatre "Essentials" - theatrical talents whose gifts were employed in a number of area productions - I couldn't have imagined that I'd find a dozen new names to add year after year. Well, as 2009 draws to a close, we can officially add another " ... after year" to that sentence.

Five Inspiring Ensembles

Powerful lead performances and scene-stealing supporting turns are always welcome; one- and two-character shows can be a gas. But for my money, nothing quite beats the theatrical pleasure of watching a tightly knit ensemble in action, and the following five productions ensured that this pleasure was a continual one.

 

Glengarry Glen Ross' Michael Kennedy, Aaron Randolph III, Daniel DP Sheridan, Tristan Tapscott, Louis Hare, and David FurnessBefore turning my attention to the area-theatre scene, allow me a moment to address another favorite topic: me.

I seem to have caused some confusion after announcing that I'd no longer be reviewing theatre for the Reader, at least based on how many people have approached me asking variations on, "What are you going to do now?!" (Eventually, I had to go back to the Reader's online call-for-entry to make sure I didn't mistakenly announce that I was quitting or got canned.)

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