Have you ever watched an intense horror flick and felt complete frustration as the victim makes a really questionable choice and ends up in a formerly avoidable, now-inevitable and desperate situation, and you say to yourself, “No-o-o-o!!! Why did she do that?!”? If so, you’ll understand some of my experience on Friday night during the Mississippi Bend Players’ production of Wait Until Dark.

With its focus on gatherings held when the women are 44, 49, 54, and 77, the script requires quick repartee and timing, and under the direction of Jacque Cohoon, the stage quintet does not disappoint. At the July 11 preview performance, in fact, the audience's laughter came so often, and was so hearty, that the actresses – complete with Southern accents and charm – had to sometimes wait for it to die down, although they consistently kept the pace lively and energetic.

Sixty-six characters, a beheading, star-crossed lovers, a woman and child on the run, wedding and funeral parties for the same guy (on the same day), a crazy judge, songs, and another beheading all add up to an incredible evening of theatre courtesy of Bertolt Brecht and the Prenzie Players. Brecht is known for his “epic theatre” works and, true to form, the Prenzies' staging of The Caucasian Chalk Circle incorporates a play-within-a-play – or rather, a parable-within-a-play – alongside social commentary, occasionally absurd humor, sentimentality, satire, and music. (Whew!) And meeting this challenge are director Kate Farence, her creative crew, and her stellar cast of 15 (10 of whom play multiple roles),  who made for exciting theatre on July 14's opening night.

Across the street from my childhood home was an open lot with worn-down dirt spots and paths etched into the grass, shaping a makeshift baseball diamond – like something from the film The Sandlot. I played ball there every summer, all summer, from kindergarten through high school, and getting a new baseball glove was always the best, except when you initially put the glove on your hand and realized it was stiff and awkward.

Everybody wants to see that hot, innovative musical. You know the one. It’s cool and diverse, sexy, sacred to its fans, and combines hip music and lyrics with some phenomenal choreography. The one in which a man and woman fall into a forbidden love that takes place amidst a bloody war between rival armies with a deadly duel as part of its climax. C’mon, you know the show I'm taking about, right?

No, not Hamilton. Sheesh.

As stage bummers go, The Trojan Women has always been one of the most glorious – an astoundingly eloquent and affecting anti-war argument that plumbs depths of almost immeasurable sadness. Yet as Genesius Guild’s current presentation of the Greek tragedy reminds us, Euripides’ play can also deliver a fantastic amount of joy, at least if you, too, annually wish that Guild offerings gave their female participants a little more to do.

Emily Gulden, Sarah Goodall, Anna Marie Myatt, Becca Brazel, Don Denton, Shelley Walljasper, Keenan Odenkirk, Max Robnett, and J.J. Johnson in Zombie Prom

I mean no offense, but I just have to get this off my chest: Zombie Prom – the first production in the inaugural season of new theatre company the Mississippi Bend Players, directed by Broadway veteran Philip Wm. McKinley – is dumb. There, I said it. I mean, we're talking about a kitschy, '50s-era musical comedy in which a pubescent zombie goes to a high-school prom, for God's sake.

But before QC theatre elites call for my head, hear me out, because the gift of having a talent such as McKinley helm this type of production is that he knows how to create a show boasting a complete vision, and he also utilizes top-level talent to take a silly script and turn it into something exceptionally entertaining.

“Welcome to theatre in the park!” announced Genesius Guild Executive Director Doug Tschopp at the June 24 presentation of The Comedy of Errors. Tschopp didn’t, however, say this during his customary greeting and introductory remarks. He said it during an unplanned break roughly 20 minutes into the Shakespeare comedy while he, director Bryan Woods, and a stagehand used makeshift mops to soak up the accumulating rain that had been causing performers to slip.

I’ve been taking my nine-year-old granddaughter Ava to the theatre since she was three, and on June 15 she accompanied me to the matinée performance of A Year with Frog & Toad, where we agreed that children’s shows don’t always have to be high-energy to be fun. This Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse production is a gentle story of friendship, and under the direction of Kim Kurtenbach it has a nicely old-fashioned vibe.

When my editor was doling out reviewing assignments for the month, I more or less said, “Please – anything but opera!” Then, due to availability issues, I ended up being assigned to review Opera @ Augustana's and Genesius Guild's Selections from Menotti.

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