The music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton elevate this story of a fading diva to an almost operatic level, and Quad City Music Guild is currently presenting the Sunset Boulevard musical with Broadway-worthy sets, costumes, and performances. Bravo!

I left Friday’s opening-night performance of Brighton Beach Memoirs – the final show in the Mississippi Bend Players' inaugural season – with several thoughts on my mind: (1) How do I review something of this caliber? (2) Everyone should go see this, so they, too, can realize how lucky we are to have such talent in the Quad Cities. (3) This show is so good I wish I was a part of it!

Making a silk purse from a sow’s ear. That’s what director/ choreographer Ann Nieman and her talented cast and crew are doing in the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but why on Earth anyone would try to rehabilitate this porker is quite beyond me. Don’t get me wrong, though: At evening's end, I, along with seemingly every other patron in the house for the July 20 preview, heartily applauded during the curtain call. Even though I think the material is awful, the production itself is very good.

Last week, some friends and I got on the topic of uncomfortable theatre experiences in shows we were in, and I shared one from an opening-night performance in which our lead walked on-stage and uttered the play’s very first line, and an elderly voice in the audience demanded, “Speak up!!!” Regardless of that individual’s age and/or hearing, I considered it a rather rude bit of heckling. But on Sunday, I saw Genesius Guild’s production of Henry V, and ... . Well, let’s just say that I now have more sympathy for that clearly frustrated patron.

Have you ever watched an intense horror flick and felt complete frustration as the victim makes a really questionable choice and ends up in a formerly avoidable, now-inevitable and desperate situation, and you say to yourself, “No-o-o-o!!! Why did she do that?!”? If so, you’ll understand some of my experience on Friday night during the Mississippi Bend Players’ production of Wait Until Dark.

With its focus on gatherings held when the women are 44, 49, 54, and 77, the script requires quick repartee and timing, and under the direction of Jacque Cohoon, the stage quintet does not disappoint. At the July 11 preview performance, in fact, the audience's laughter came so often, and was so hearty, that the actresses – complete with Southern accents and charm – had to sometimes wait for it to die down, although they consistently kept the pace lively and energetic.

Sixty-six characters, a beheading, star-crossed lovers, a woman and child on the run, wedding and funeral parties for the same guy (on the same day), a crazy judge, songs, and another beheading all add up to an incredible evening of theatre courtesy of Bertolt Brecht and the Prenzie Players. Brecht is known for his “epic theatre” works and, true to form, the Prenzies' staging of The Caucasian Chalk Circle incorporates a play-within-a-play – or rather, a parable-within-a-play – alongside social commentary, occasionally absurd humor, sentimentality, satire, and music. (Whew!) And meeting this challenge are director Kate Farence, her creative crew, and her stellar cast of 15 (10 of whom play multiple roles),  who made for exciting theatre on July 14's opening night.

Across the street from my childhood home was an open lot with worn-down dirt spots and paths etched into the grass, shaping a makeshift baseball diamond – like something from the film The Sandlot. I played ball there every summer, all summer, from kindergarten through high school, and getting a new baseball glove was always the best, except when you initially put the glove on your hand and realized it was stiff and awkward.

Everybody wants to see that hot, innovative musical. You know the one. It’s cool and diverse, sexy, sacred to its fans, and combines hip music and lyrics with some phenomenal choreography. The one in which a man and woman fall into a forbidden love that takes place amidst a bloody war between rival armies with a deadly duel as part of its climax. C’mon, you know the show I'm taking about, right?

No, not Hamilton. Sheesh.

As stage bummers go, The Trojan Women has always been one of the most glorious – an astoundingly eloquent and affecting anti-war argument that plumbs depths of almost immeasurable sadness. Yet as Genesius Guild’s current presentation of the Greek tragedy reminds us, Euripides’ play can also deliver a fantastic amount of joy, at least if you, too, annually wish that Guild offerings gave their female participants a little more to do.

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