Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical

Delivering what the Denver Post called “a sleighful of gifts” including “a minuet of the familiar and the special” and a “gentle, genial advocacy of the impossible,” the holiday spectacular Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical, running December 12 through 15, serves as the final production in the Spotlight Theatre's 2019 season, an adaptation of the beloved movie classic boasting music and lyrics by The Music Man creator Meredith Willson.

Praised by the Orlando Sentinel as “full of upbeat tunes” and a “winning addition to the holiday canon that manages to also touch the heart,” the stage adaptation The Best Chistmas Pageant Ever: The Musical serves as the final presentation in Quad City Music Guild's 2020 season, its December 5 through 8 run sure to demonstrate why the Charlotte Observer's Lawrence Toppman called it “the first play written for kids that would inspire me to buy the original cast album.”

A hilarious, cheeky, and thoughtful one-woman show making its Quad Cities debut, Iowa City playwright/actor Janet Story Schlapkohl's Invisible but Dangerous enjoys a special limited run at Davenport's QC Theatre Workshop December 6 and 7, treating audience to fraught, funny tales of everything from Midwestern politeness to mansplaining to those containers of spices that stay in your kitchen, unused, for decades.

A celebrated seasonal event described by DC Metro Theater Arts as “an exhilarating must-see” and “a pulse-pounding pageant full of talent and praise,” Langston Hughes' iconic Black Nativity enjoys a December 6 through 8 run at Moline's Playcrafters Barn Theatre, its presentation by Breath of Encouragement Productions sure to prove why the Maryland Theatre Guide deemed it “a celebration of life and spirit that is at once essential and timely.”

Daniel Rairdin-Hale directs The Little Prince at St. Ambrose University -- December 7.

After its successful run at Davenport's QC Theatre Workshop this past spring, author Aaron Randolph III's new adaptation of the literary classic The Little Prince lands at St. Ambrose University for two performances on December 7 in a presentation boasting an expanded cast, plus direction and original puppet creations by the original production's “Little Prince” himself, SAU's theatre-department associate professor and chair Daniel Rairdin-Hale.

“Mr. Scrooge! A Musical Christmas Carol" at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse -- November 29 through December 28.

Praised by Columbus Theatre Scene as “a sweet, family-friendly show that tells its story succinctly and with charm,” the stage adaptation Mr. Scrooge! A Musical Christmas Carol makes its area debut with a November 29 through December 28 run at Rock Island's Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, the show boasting all of your favorite characters in a song-filled treat by the gifted creative team behind the family smash How I Became a Pirate.

Described by USA Press as “a dazzling holiday spectacular” and by Broadway World as “an amazing and joyous experience for everyone of all ages,” the touring sensation Christmas Wonderland Holiday Spectacular lands at Davenport's Adler Theatre on November 29, the latest production in the venue's Broadway at the Adler series, and a show to high-kick the holiday season into high gear.

If you have a preconceived notion that William Shakespeare plays are uppity, pretentious, or hard to follow, then you need to get yourself over to the QC Theatre Workshop this weekend to see the Prenzie Players’ current production of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Friday’s opening night of this hilarious romp was just so much fun that it’s hard to properly articulate all that made it so. That’s not, however, going to stop me from trying.

The Black Box Theatre’s current show, Losers Bracket, isn’t exactly like the '80s sitcom Cheers, and Saturday’s theatrical barroom brawl was rife with profanity and strobe light effects that, for me, were painful. This tale of insurance fraud, dysfunctional relationships, and greed that all unfolds in a Chicago tavern known as Boo’s featured a few one-liners that I found funny – but other than that, I'd have to say, “Not my cup of tea.”

I was fortunate to attend Tuesday's rehearsal of Augustana College's current offering She Kills Monsters by playwright Qui Nguyen. Director Jeff Coussens and assistant director James Wheeler did stunning work in creating this ambitious production. When we enter the theatre, the stark stone ledges and pre-show music tell us that the show takes place (mostly) in a magical fantasy world, and the set comes to vigorous life after video screens light up, employing film, photos, computer animation, and amusing eight-bit color graphics to establish and enhance settings. I've rarely seen, in local presentations, stagecraft this sophisticated.

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