Chief among many surprises in Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's current production of The King & I is the re-discovery of just how funny the show is. For many, myself included, the news of another Rodgers & Hammerstein revival is enough to fill you with trepidation; must we sit through one of their timeless extravaganzas yet again? But it's easy to forget that this theatrical duo is legendary for good reason. Beyond their undeniable musical talents, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein wrote strong, well-constructed shows and empathetic characters, and their productions always feature an intriguing, nearly treacherous dark side; Rodgers & Hammerstein felt no compunction about casually killing off major characters. (Every time I see The Sound of Music I have to remind myself: Oh, right. There are Nazis in this.) And although I'd be content to never see South Pacific again, a recent, invigorating production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's State Fair at Assumption High School was a welcome reminder of the duo's gifts, and Circa '21's The King & I is fantastically fine, engaging and memorable and, to a quite unexpected degree, hilarious.

Why Theatre?

"So," you might be asking, "why is the movie guy writing about theatre?" A fair question. I love theatre. A lot. I was a theatre major in college and, until recently, have spent the past decade employed at Rock Island's Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, where I've learned about and appreciated this great art form all the more.

Edward Albee, author of the play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, will be visiting the Quad Cities April 8 and 9 for a Quad City Arts Cary Grant Residency. Albee will be presenting two public lectures and a pair of seminars.

The Drawer Boy, opening this weekend at New Ground Theatre, is not only an emotional journey through the suppressed memories of two old farmers and a unique observation of the art of storytelling; it also plays an important role in contemporary Canadian theatre history.

In episode 72 of Gilligan's Island, Hollywood director Harold Hecuba pays a visit and the castaways stage a musical version of Hamlet to try to impress him. For Michael King, who has watched all 98 episodes of the show multiple times, that plotline is a metaphor.

Augustana's production of Storm & Stress (a.k.a. Sturm und Drang) is "an opportunity for local audiences to see a play that they will likely never see anywhere else," said Jeff Coussens, director of the college's Theatre Arts Program.

When I was in seventh grade, my chorus class took a charter bus up to Chicago to see Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. From a row near the back of the theatre, I watched the vibrant speck that was Donnie Osmond belt out the tunes "Close Every Door" and "Joseph's Coat." On the return trip home, while the chaperone mothers murmured in fascination over the dark-haired leading man, we chorus students amused ourselves with a Joseph sing-along. The music was just that unforgettable and appealing, even to our usually unimpressionable teenage minds.

"What I cannot create, I do not understand." - Richard Feynman

New Ground Theatre's upcoming show, QED, traces the many accomplishments of physicist Dr. Richard Feynman, including his formula for quantum electrodynamics (which gives this play its title) and his participation in the development of the atomic bomb.

Preparing for a show in the location the set pieces are constructed, rehearsals held, and technical adjustments made is the easiest way to ensure the fluidity of all theatrical aspects as performance time approaches.

The Prenzie Players are so serious about presenting innovative interpretations of Shakespeare's scripts, they promise audience members "won't forget our shows, ever." Pretty lofty standards for a small group of Quad Cities actors who hold performances in rented found spaces (currently the Rock Island Housing Authority building) and use minimal props, costumes, staging, and production.

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