This past Friday was freaky. Because at the opening night for the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse’s Freaky Friday musical, the many stories of the evening – director Erin Thompson’s return to the theatre where she got her start in 1993’s Annie; her show being Thompson’s first professional directing credit – included the sheer splendor of the entire performance, from the acting to the dancing to the incredible singing. My wife and I definitely left the experience saying, “That was freaky good.”

Maybe our virtual lives are just as important as our physical lives. To some, maybe, they're more important.

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.

Augustana College's production of In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) takes the audience back to the simpler time of the 1800s, when electricity was being discovered, doctors still worked out of their homes, and females were apparently so sexually repressed they were driving themselves insane.

So much has been said about Pat Flaherty's performances over the years that I hesitate to add more here for fear of being accused of plagiarism. Suffice it to say Flaherty has brought a smile to my face in everything I have ever seen him act in, and his portrayal in Sleuth was certainly no exception.

Director Craig Cohoon's production was such a ticklish and sustained creep-out that I chuckled and smiled in appreciation as much as amusement, even when I was silently begging one of our leads to not, not, open that scary-ass door.

Composer William Flynn's music and lyrics and Rachel Sheinkin's book (with additional material by Jay Reiss) are so full of wit, heart, and humor that I think even a “C”-average delivery would still please. Director Becca Johnson, however, has created a wonderfully paced and creatively performed production, featuring terrific talent that includes the five-member pit orchestra of Peter Letendre, Becky Holland, Sandra Blom, Kyle Jacklin, and music director Kyle Schneider. This show gets an A+ in my book, as there was hardly a moment in which I wasn’t under its, ahem, spell.

Despite its a cappella rendition of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and repeated employment of the clever, catchy Unknown Hinson song “I Cleaned Out a Room (in My Trailer for You)” during scene changes, no one could mistake the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's season-ending presentation for a musical. But in director John VanDeWoestyne's Doublewide, Texas, the character attire designed and gathered by costumer Suzanne DeReu is so eye-catching, and so abundant, that it's almost as though this lightweight Southern comedy were instead a lavish Broadway spectacle boasting a cast of 90 and special appearance by the Rockettes. And the Rockettes wouldn't have been funny.

I’m no Brainiac, but I do know this about musicals: When you put together a group of 13 adorable and talented little girls led by a plucky redhead who can sing her heart out, add a rags-to-riches tale enhanced with memorable tunes and dance numbers, and then throw in a scruffy dog that takes stage direction, you’ve got a crowd-pleaser on your hands!

I love going to the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse – not just for the great shows, but for the memories that the old theatre brings. And on the day after Thanksgiving, I had the good fortune to take my eight year-old grandson John to the opening matinée of Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas, Circa '21's current children’s musical under the direction of Andrea Moore.

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