I realized it was not going to be an ordinary show right away. As the lights dimmed, the accompanist for this non-musical production attempted to play her electronic keyboard, but it would not produce a single note. After a couple more attempts, a stagehand walked out and started pulling several times on a small-engine pull cord – a.k.a. a chainsaw. That led to a sputtering engine that evidently started the keyboard … thus allowing the pianist to play the opening theme song to a 20th Century Fox film. All this set the appropriate tone for the rest of the Richmond Hill Players' latest and incredibly silly production: an adaptation of Molière's Scapin.

In the words of Oscar Hammerstein, “A song’s not a song 'til you sing it” – and sing they did at Tuesday's dress rehearsal for Quad City Music Guild's musical revue A Grand Night for Singing.

Called “a provocative fusion of objective reality and emotional punch” by the New York Times and “thoughtful, pained, and powerful” by Variety magazine, the iconic Matthew Shepard drama The Laramie Project will be performed October 12 through 14 in a special fundraising presentation at Moline's Playcrafters Barn Theatre, with 11 actors portraying more than 60 characters between them.

From October 11 through 21, the worlds of literature, radio, and theatre will blend when Moline's Black Box Theatre presents director Lora Adams' War of the Worlds: A Radio Play a reenactment of Orson Welles' legendary 1938 radio program whose five-man cast both reproduces the tale's radio-show context and enacts the story's throngs of interviewers, experts, eyewitnesses, government officials, and military leaders.

One of America's most powerful and iconic works by one of the world's preeminent playwrights, Arthur Miller's Tony-winning drama The Crucible opens the 2018-19 mainstage season at Augustana College – a wrenchingly timeless tale that, according to the New York Times, “insists that we identify with not only the victims of persecution but also with those who would judge them.”

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.

With San Francisco's SFGate.com calling it “two hours of high-class hilarity” and “a generous gag-fest packed with rib-tickling delights,” Geneseo's Richmond Hill Barn Theatre continues its 50th-aAnniversary season of audience favorites with the commedie del'arte slapstick Scapin, a work that the Washington Post labeled “buoyantly self-aware” and “a delightful contemporary farce.”

An unforgettable tale of a ruthless race to power and the love affair that threatened to upend it, the historical drama Henry VIII: All Is True will be staged by verse-theatre troupe the Prenzie Players at Davenport's QC Theatre Workshop October 5 through 13 – the first area staging of ths 17th Century play in decades, and a work believed to be either the final or penultimate play written by William Shakespeare.

For its first musical presentation in the venue's first year of operation, the operators of Moline's Spotlight Theatre will take advantage of their venue's locale – the former site of the Scottish Rite Cathedral – with an ideal production for the architecturally grand space: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the lauded stage adaptation of Disney's Oscar-nominated hit running October 5 through 14.

On August 26, theatre, film, and television scribe Neil Simon, at age 91, passed away after a legendary career that found him the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, four Tony Awards, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and more combined Tony and Oscar nominations than any other writer in history. And from October 5 through 7, St. Ambrose University will celebrate the man's extraordinary career with its staging of Rumors, Simon's Tony-winning slapstick farce that the New York Post deemed “light, frothy, and fun.”

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