A real-life confession: I typically spend Sunday evenings at home watching Netflix, so spending it in Lincoln Park with Genesius Guild's production of The Merchant of Venice was a refreshing change. While it is known as one of William Shakespeare’s “problem plays,” and I would agree with that assessment, this performance was still a great way to forget thinking about Monday.

A disappearing body, missing evidence, blood on a chair, and a pursuing investigation – so goes the spirited comedy BusyBody, written by Jack Popplewell and directed by Joe DePauw. Sunday’s matinée performance at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre was rife with lively slapstick and subtle humor, taking us into the world of Mrs. Piper (Jackie Skiles), a spunky office cleaning lady who has stumbled her way into a murder mystery.

The first thing I noticed as I walked into Thursday's stunning, powerful, opening-night performance of the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre's Cabaret was the temperature. As I glanced around looking for meat hooks, I realized that many of the theatre's more seasoned attendees had brought along sweaters, coats, and even blankets. But the chill in the air gave no indication of the show's eventual heat.

It’s not often that I walk away from a show thinking about who I am as a person and how I can do better. Yet that is exactly what happened Friday night after the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's production of Clybourne Park, and director Alexander Richardson should be proud of his thought-provoking, darkly comedic production that demands more of its audience than the usual area-stage fare.

As the wind blew and the rain poured, I was concerned about making it to the current play at Augustana College's Brunner Theatre Center without being swept away by the currents of water flooding the streets of Rock Island. Thankfully, though – and with added thanks to Cart to the Art driver John D'Aversa – even a severe thunderstorm couldn't keep me from the Mississippi Bend Players' opening-night production of The Glass Menagerie.

If you’ve never been privy to the theatre-audition process, you may not realize how intense and cut-throat an experience it can be, and as A Chorus Line – currently being presented at Quad City Music Guild’s Prospect Park Auditorium – teaches us, it’s not always about how talented you are; sometimes it’s merely who you know. But while that bias can be an unfortunate reality, Music Guild’s vast display of on-stage talent dazzles you into momentarily forgetting the injustice.

What are guys supposed to do when they lose their jobs because the local mill is closing? It’s bad enough to be unemployed, but with nothing on the horizon except low-level work, a man can feel like he's nothing but an emasculated scrap of crap. If you're unlucky enough to be one of a ragtag group of jobless and desperate dudes, you do the obvious … and become a male stripper.

It was a sweltering-hot day this past Saturday in the Quad Cities, but it was quite refreshing being under the sea with the cast of Disney’s The Little Mermaid at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre. As I sat back in my seat enjoying the music, I heard the precious young girl seated behind me sweetly singing along with the teenage mermaid Ariel (Aria Braswell) in a very soft voice. I realized then how powerful and influential this musical fantasy was, and still is, for children everywhere.

Heat-advisory warning notwithstanding, Genesius Guild's staging of Prometheus Bound in Rock Island’s Lincoln Park was an experience not to be missed. As with most Greek tragedies, there is a moral dilemma that can give audiences insight into their lives, and director Michael Callahan staged a meaningful production that remains relevant 2,500 years after it was was written. (Who would have guessed we’d still be battling tyrants?)

Bravo to the Mississippi Bend Players for magnificently transporting patrons back in time – back to when Huckleberry Finn (Quinn Rigg) and his humble slave companion Jim (LaRon Grant) traveled along the banks of the Mississippi River on a meager log raft – in the powerful musical Big River. Friday's opening-night performance at Augustana College's Brunner Theatre Center was simply stunning, with the entire cast reminding me why I love the fine arts.

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