What would summer in Iowa be without fireworks? And small-town Independence Day celebrations? Ice cream? A marching band? A charming con man? Yep – for me, it's just not summer without The Music Man. This 1957 work by Iowan Meredith Willson (with Franklin Lacey's assist on the story) is my favorite musical. I've seen more productions of it than any other show, and felt lucky to review Countryside Community Theatre's opening-night performance.

We don't just hear about the two Broadway ladies, both of whose careers took off in the 1930s and spanned decades; we also hear about Shelley Cooper's theatrical career. After reading her credits in the program bio, I can say that Cooper is a bona fide musical-theatre luminary herself.

Whether you are shy about trying Shakespeare or are a Bard aficionado, has Genesius Guild got a show for you! The first production of their shortened season, Measure for Measure (abridged), is very funny, well acted, deftly staged, easy to follow, and – so important for an outdoor venue in summer – short.

It was a beautiful summer night on Saturday, and I was thrilled to attend the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre’s energetic new musical Smokey Joe’s Café. Celebrating the songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, this production took place outdoors, across the street from the Showboat in the charming Riverview Park Bandshell. And from the first note of the first song, I knew I was in for a treat.

The song “Corner of the Sky” has always been one of my favorite Broadway tunes. I love the lyrics, especially, because they touch areas deep inside my heart with their nuances of looking for meaning in life and trying to find a place where you fit in. The words: “Rivers belong where they can ramble / Eagles belong where they can fly / I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free / Got to find my corner of the sky” really ring true in my own experiences. And this song is the centerpiece for the season opener – the musical Pippin now playing at the Timber Lake Playhouse.

I feel confident in giving Red two thumbs up, but should you attend for yourself and disagree with me … . Well, I think that’s exactly the point of director Cait Bodenbender’s production: You can choose for yourself as long as you do so from a place of honesty.

Did you hear the energetic trumpeting coming from Rock Island this past weekend? Because Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are in a Play!” debuted on the Circa ‘21 Dinner Playhouse stage and was chock full of trumpets, both of the elephantine and brass-instrumental variety. Director Kim Kurtenbach kept the energy in this production high and the overall experience was a joy – a veritable celebration of friendship.

There’s an adage “hurt people hurt people.” It's a cliché, certainly, but it sums up the experience currently on the Playcrafters Barn Theatre stage. Friday was the opening night for Princeton’s Rage, written by local playwright Don Faust, and under the direction of Madison Duling, the evening was full of emotions and pain, but also well-needed healing.

Friday was opening night for You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown at the Spotlight Theatre, and it was a crazy, fun evening filled with lighthearted comedy and loaded with some of my favorite area talent. I really enjoyed the simple, childlike playfulness that the entire cast exuded, as it was evident that everyone was having a great time and glad to be back on stage.

Drama is conflict, and the Black Box Theatre's current production, titled Hate Mail, reveals its conflict within the first two minutes. As the battle slowly escalated, I wondered how playwrights Bill Corbett and Kira Obolensky could sustain the animosity and keep it building for an entire play. How dark could it get and

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