The three sisters who are the central characters of Shelaugh Stephenson's The Memory of Water at first appear to having nothing in common except their family ties. The caustic dialogue reveals unresolved conflicts that go back to childhood and the different roles each woman has pursued in life and love. But the dialogue also contains much humor and insight that finally leads to acceptance.

Spinning into Butter, Riverside Theatre's third production in its 21st season, is a sometimes-humorous look at very serious subjects: political correctness and racial politics in the new millennium. The work and the production have local roots. The play was written by Rebecca Gilman, who has an MFA from the University of Iowa and is an acquaintance of Ron Clark and Jody Hovland, co-artistic directors at Riverside. (Time magazine hailed Gilman as "an important new theatrical voice.") And director Bruce Levitt is a former University of Iowa faculty member and was director of the MFA. actor-training program at the school from 1977 to 1980.

Riverside Theatre in Iowa City is one of only a handful of regional theatres fortunate enough to gain the rights to present I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change so early in its history. The musical comedy - dubbed "Seinfeld set to music" - is still running in New York at the WestSide Theatre and is also in Boston, and it hasn't begun to tour nationally. But it's at the Riverside Theatre through September 30.

Where can audiences see the World Wrestling Federation on stage in a Shakespeare comedy? And where can young lovers be serenaded by frogs as dusk settles over the park? The answer is Lower City Park in Iowa City, where Riverside Theatre presents a very modern interpretation of Shakespeare's As You Like It. Directed with wit and high energy by Mark Hunter, the comedy about love and family and all the complications one can imagine is distinguished by a rollicking soundtrack, youthful, exuberant performers, and hip-hop choreography.

The years have turned it into a classic of musical theatre, but when it first appeared on stage, Andrew Lloyd Webber's and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar met with criticism as well as critical acclaim. And even though it's no longer controversial, Jesus Christ Superstar still has all of its power and theatrical brilliance.

Riverside Theatre in Iowa City continues its 20th anniversary season with another outstanding Pulitzer Prize-winning drama produced rarely outside urban centers. "Big drama in small places" accurately describes Wit, written by first-time playwright Margaret Edson and originally produced at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, one of the nation's leading producers of contemporary drama.

Why does Elvis Presley captivate us as strongly today as he did the first time he strutted his stuff on Ed Sullivan's stage? Is it his music? Was it the life he lived behind the gates of Graceland that ended so tragically? Many insist Elvis is still alive, swearing they've seen him in every corner of the world.

It might be the season for holiday chestnuts, but Circa's current production of Winter Wonderland, written by Brad Hauskins and arranged by Linda Brinkerhoff, gives a refreshing twist to many holiday favorites as a family searches for an old-fashioned Christmas experience.

The theatre of American politics has been on a 24-hour-a-day run for a week now, and the situation playing out in Florida has a host of entertaining elements; comedy, drama, mystery, and suspense have taken us on a roller-coaster ride of emotional highs and lows. And the players ... oh how the players have stolen the show.

The Creation story has been spun into a multitude of tales that have captivated audiences for centuries, but few are as entertaining as Ghostlight Theatre's current production of Stephen Schwartz's Children of Eden.

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