One of the area's most adored holiday traditions returns to Davenport's Adler Theatre on December 9 and 10, when the professional talents of Ballet Quad Cities perform Tchaikovsky's holiday dance classic The Nutcracker in a presentation boasting new choreography by director (and BQC Artistic Director) Courtney Lyon and live accompaniment courtesy of Orchestra Iowa.

An operatic legend will celebrated on-stage when Shelley Cooper, Augustana College's new Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts, brings her one-woman show La Divina: The Last Interview of Maria Callas to the Brunner Theatre Center for a two-night tribute to the iconic figure that legendary composer Leonard Bernstein called “the Bible of opera.”

Described by the New York Times as “effortlessly endearing” and by Variety magazine as “enormously satisfying,” The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee closes the Black Box Theatre's debut season, demonstrating why composer William Finn's celebrated 2005 musical comedy received two Tony Awards and enjoyed a Broadway run of 1,136 performances.

I love going to the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse – not just for the great shows, but for the memories that the old theatre brings. And on the day after Thanksgiving, I had the good fortune to take my eight year-old grandson John to the opening matinée of Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas, Circa '21's current children’s musical under the direction of Andrea Moore.

An independent-minded heroine, a 1980s-themed Royal Ball, a man in a dress, and a six-foot-three-inch actor playing a character named “Pipsqueak” are among the delights lined up for St. Ambrose University's family production Cinderella, an updated take on the classic fairytale by local playwright Roger Pavey.

Following the success of its 2015 family comedy Fancy Nancy: The Musical, Circa '21 presents another stage adventure with author Jane O'Connor's famed children's-book character in Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas, a holiday-themed musical that inspired praise from the New York Times: “What makes Splendiferous Christmas winning is that it dares to be a little naughty as well as nice.”

Arriving at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre a mere two years after its world premiere, the comedy Doublewide, Texas is the latest Southern farce by the popular playwriting team of Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten, whose numerous stage hits – all recently produced in the area – include The Dixie Swim Club, Mama Won't Fly, Always a Bridesmaid, and The Red Velvet Cake War.

Winner of seven 1977 Tony Awards and one of the 25 longest-running musicals in Broadway history, the iconic comic-strip adaptation Annie will be brought to life by Quad City Music Guild November 29 through December 3, its pre-opening sales so strong that a rare matinée performance has been added for Saturday, December 2.

Written by Thomas Meehan and based on the 2003 film comedy, Elf: The Musical is filled with lively music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and director/choreographer Ann Nieman made great use of an exceptionally talented cast that didn't have a weak link in the bunch.

As I sat in the audience for the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's opening-night performance of Miracle on 34th Street, I had to constantly remind myself that I was watching a Christmas show. Not because the production wasn’t festive, but because I couldn’t believe the holiday season is already here!