Madness. It was madness how much fun I had at the July 25 preview performance of the interactive mystery comedy Shear Madness at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse.

I was in Friday's opening-night audience for the Mississippi Bend Players' Dames at Sea. George Haimsohn and Robin Miller wrote the 1966 piece's book and lyrics, with music by Jim Wise, and as Augustana College's Brunner Theatre lobby display notes, it's a spoof of the films Gold Diggers of 1933, Footlight Parade, and 42nd Street. The old show-biz tropes it sends up are easy targets, and the tunes are imitative (naturally), but vastly enjoyable. As for the script, it's just one giant, cheerful wink in which continuity and plausibility are irrelevant. Show people playing show people putting on a show is a sea of fun to begin with, and the plot merely dips a toe in the water now and then, leaving the singing and dancing to make the big splash – which, here, they do.

There's a British invasion going on at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, and Friday's performance of The Who's Tommy was in your face, intense, and powerful, a rock opera that cranked up the volume on the phenomenal music of one of the most influential groups of the 20th century: English rock band The Who.

From Payton Brasher’s brooding Stage Manager soliloquy kicking off the evening to the concluding chase sequence set to music, Genesius Guild’s Ecclesiazusae doesn’t take itself too seriously. And yet this comedic production, originally written by Greek playwright Aristophanes in 391 BC and updated here by Don Wooten, still manages to make a statement appropriate for 2019.

Although it was sweltering outside on Friday night, it was cool and comfortable inside the North Scott High School Fine Arts Auditorium. Nonetheless, a heat wave of talented artists stormed the stage as Countryside Community Theatre and Lancer Productions put on a sizzling opening-night performance of the jukebox musical Mamma Mia!

You know ABBA, right? The 1970s pop group, beloved worldwide, wrote and recorded the catchiest tunes this side of Lennon and McCartney? The Swedish foursome were all over the airwaves, and still are, and their body of work was the springboard that launched the musical Mamma Mia! The Timber Lake Playhouse is running its spectacular production of the show now. Grab a seat before they're gone.

It's magical to enter the theatre at Prospect Park and take in the huge, overarching proscenium studded with large round bulbs and that dark-red velvety curtain. Before Thursday's preview performance, I took a deep, happy breath as I absorbed this classic-American-theatre ambiance and anticipated a dazzling musical spectacle – and Quad City Music Guild gave me what I wanted.

Sure, it’s cliché. But of all the Shakespeare tragedies, Hamlet is my favorite, so I was excited to take in director Alaina Pascarella’s version in Lincoln Park on Saturday night. And Genesius Guild took this classic, trimmed it down, and kept it enjoyable for enthusiastic William Shakespeare fans and newcomers both.

I won't be coy: The Playcrafters Barn Theatre's Something Intangible, by Bruce Graham, is an imagining of the relationship between brothers Walt and Roy Disney, but with the names changed. They co-founded the Disney Bros. Studios, with Walt the visionary and Roy the money man.

Whenever I visit Geneseo's Richmond Hill Barn Theatre, I'm reminded of how wholesome, welcoming, and beautiful this location in the Midwest is, and how this unique venue is truly a lovely place to take in a show. The players’ latest production, author Jack Sharkey's Missing Link, is a marital comedy full of all kinds of twists and turns, mistaken identities, and romantic conundrums, and it gives patrons a lighthearted look at the things we do for love.

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