I've always enjoyed the children’s-theatre presentations at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, and Saturday morning’s performance of Pinocchio brought me yet another magical experience that I thoroughly appreciated. A lighthearted, classic tale about a wooden puppet and his maker’s wish for him to become a real little boy, director Warner Crocker's show emphasizes a positive message about the importance of honesty and is filled with imaginative characters that bring this wonderful story to life.

Thirty-five years ago, as her birthday present, I took my wife out for our first “classy” date to the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse. I had arranged for a dear friend (shout-out to Bill Sensenbrenner) to be our Bootlegger, and wanted to treat my wife to the thrill of seeing Circa '21 produce the musical Annie for the very first time. It was an elegant evening boasting a topnotch performance that we both remember to this day. Fast forward 35 years, and we found ourselves doing the exact same thing on November 9 by enjoying an elegant evening of food, friends, and Circa '21’s latest extraordinary production of – what else? – Annie!

Before the start of Tuesday night's dress rehearsal for the Spotlight Theatre's The Happy Elf, there was a little bit of pre-holiday spirit in the air, with various cast members' children and siblings laughing and playing in the aisles, enjoying candy canes and cookies. However, once the performance started, they were as quiet as (dare I say it?) church mice. This may be the best indication of the musical's ability to hold the interest of a young audience.

Reviews by Jeff Ashcraft, Patricia Baugh-Riechers, Audra Beals, Dee Canfield, Kim Eastland, Emily Heninger, Heather Herkelman, Paula Jolly, Victoria Navarro, Mark Ruebling, Mike Schulz, Joy Thompson, Oz Torres, Brent Tubbs, Jill (Pearson) Walsh, and Thom White.

It must be a daunting task to adapt a film for the stage, and there are dozens of examples of movies – everything from Little Shop of Horrors to King Kong – reinvented for the theatre. But how can you even hope to take one of the most revered American films of all time, a non-musical no less, and turn it into a full-blown musical success? Easy. Do what Quad City Music Guild has done, and simply find good actors, a creative director, talented musicians, and other dedicated artists to recreate the holiday classic It’s A Wonderful Life in the form of the stage musical Miracle in Bedford Falls.

Christmas can be magical. It’s a time for love, cheer, and miracles. And all three of those holiday attributes are currently being dished up at the Black Box Theatre in its production of It Had to Be You.

Lincoln, Booth, and a gun. What could go wrong? As you will come to find out in the latest QC Theatre Workshop presentation Topdog/Underdog, pretty much everything. This production is dark and riveting, even if you can see the inevitable end from the get-go.

Beards, beers, and bucks abounded Saturday night as the Richmond Hill Players presented Escanaba in 'da Moonlight, a comedy written by Emmy-award winning actor Jeff Daniels. The program notes that Daniels, of Dumb & Dumber fame, is primarily a dramatic actor, but make no mistake: This production was straight-up slapstick comedy.

Life is full of many different highs and lows that make up the human experience. We may have trials and tribulations, unexpected loss, unforeseen disappointment, and sadness, but we also have happiness, joy, and love. Memories are stored in our brains that, over time, can fade or become distorted. Now what would it be like if we downloaded those memories into a computerized holograph? So goes this science-fiction play by Jordan Harrison, called Marjorie Prime.

Before attending Friday's performance of the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's A Wrinkle in Time, I knew very little about Madeleine L'Engle's beloved science-fantasy novel, save for the recent movie trailer featuring Oprah Winfrey. And as I watched the near-capacity, all-ages audience file in, I could sense an air of joyful anticipation, not unlike the one you might find at the screening of a Harry Potter movie. But by the end of the performance, I felt confused and more than a little disappointed.

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