You may think a teenage dramedy that confronts complex social issues such as homophobia, abortion, teacher/student affairs, and other unspoken issues could be a seriously dry, heavy lump that leaves an audience more burdened than amused. Yet I’ve always loved the John Hughes film The Breakfast Club and how it comedically compartmentalizes its stereotypical high school students into the micro-environment of Saturday detention, forcing them to face who they are and where they fit in their high-school hierarchy. So it was consequently interesting to sit in on the September 25 technical rehearsal of the Playcrafters Barn Theatre’s newest, and quite admirable, Barn Owl Series production Speech & Debate.

There was a certain air of rowdiness at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's opening-night production of Mama Won't Fly, and rightfully so, as the champagne fountain was flowing in celebration of the theatre's final production of its 41st season. Everyone seemed ready for a good laugh, and on those terms, I don't think any of us left disappointed.

Friday’s opening night of Tuesdays with Morrie found the Playcrafters Barn Theatre housing the largest audience I’ve ever seen there. It was almost unbelievable, then, that the intimacy of this two-man show directed by Jeff Ashcraft made me feel like the only person in the room – and I feel fortunate to have been a part of this production's history.

With the sentiment of the late Aretha Franklin and her famous song lyric, I extend R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the cast and crew of the Timber Lake Playhouse for delivering a most entertaining production of Larry Gallagher’s Beehive: The '60s Musical. The show's six posed, and composed, young actresses grabbed your attention from the start of Saturday's matinée performance, with each diva poised upon their platforms ready to explode with talent from the opening scene.

Dead Man's Cell Phone

“When something rings, you have to answer it. Don't you?” pleads Jean (Jessica Taylor), the mousy, bespectacled protagonist of the QC Theatre Workshop's wildly imaginative production of Dead Man's Cell Phone. This Sarah Ruhl play serves as a commentary on how modern technology both isolates us and connects us. Or at least, that's what Wikipedia would like us to believe … .

Soaring with melodies from another galaxy, the Timber Lake Playhouse's Forever Plaid is energetic, light-hearted, and funny in its nostalgic revue of 1950s close-harmony guy groups. Saturday's matinée performance of this outstanding production – directed and choreographed by Gregory Daniels, with the original musical arrangements by James Raitt – just kept getting more entertaining as the show went on.

“Welcome to the Hotel California,” crooned the Eagles as the lights dimmed on Thursday's opening-night performance of California Suite at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre. It was the perfect – and, let’s be honest, most obvious – song choice for this straightforward production of Neil Simon’s comedy.

Every once in a while, you see a show in which all the pieces click and it becomes greater than the sum of its parts. In the case of Next to Normal, currently running at the Black Box Theatre, the intimacy of the venue was reflected in the intimacy of the material, and as such, director Kyle Schneider’s dark musical was extremely moving.

We all know that dying is a part of life, but most of us don’t like to think about it. Being a cancer survivor myself, I know all too well what it's like to face death, and whether you're young or old, death does not discriminate. So when I went to see Saturday night's Tuesdays with Morrie – playwright Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of Mitch Albom's bestselling memoir – at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, I knew, based on its subject matter, that I was in for an emotional roller-coaster ride that would once again make me face the reality of my mortality.

These days, one could rent just about anything when producing a theatrical production. Need a backdrop? Rent. Costumes? Rent. Props? Rent. Wigs? Rent. Lighting? Rent. The entire set? Rent. You can even rent the whole orchestra by licensing the use of a pre-recorded soundtrack. And there's nothing wrong with taking the rental path. I mean, why reinvent the wheel?! But that's why Quad City Music Guild’s latest – and determinedly non-rented – production of Shrek: The Musical is so ogre-ly impressive.

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