Olympia DukakisIn the years since she received a 1988 Academy Award for Moonstruck, Olympia Dukakis has appeared in more than four dozen feature films, television movies, and miniseries, and has continued to be a widely respected theatre actor and director. So it seems somehow prophetic that her illustrious career began, as she says during a recent phone interview, with a production that blended the stage and celluloid.

Steve Quartell and James Bleecker in The Zoo StoryRunning a brisk 60 minutes, the Harrison Hilltop Theatre's presentation of Edward Albee's The Zoo Story is energetic and entertaining, and with James Bleecker and Steve Quartell portraying the two men in Albee's two-man tragicomedy, the production was all but guaranteed to be well-performed. And it is.

Tom Dugan in Simon Wiesenthal: Nazi HunterIn 2007, when Los Angeles-based actor/playwright Tom Dugan was first booked as a Quad City Arts Visiting Artist, it was as the star of his self-written, one-character performance piece Robert E. Lee: Shades of Gray. When he returned as a Visiting Artist in 2008, it was as the author and director of another one-man show, Frederick Douglass: In the Shadow of Slavery.

Now, with Broadway director Jenny Sullivan at the helm, Dugan returns for his third stint with Quad City Arts in Simon Wiesenthal: Nazi Hunter, another solo vehicle that the busy stage and film actor both wrote and stars in. And, it should go without saying, Dugan recognizes that audiences hesitant about attending productions on the Civil War and slavery may be even more leery of one concerning the Holocaust.

"When anyone is preparing to go see this," says Dugan during a recent phone interview, "I'm sure there's this feeling like, 'Aw, man ... do I want to sit through this?' And I'll tell you, when I sat down to write the play, I thought, 'Aw, man ... do I wanna write this play?'"

Daniel DP Sheridan, Pat Flaherty, Eddie Staver III, Tristan Tapscott, David Furness, Louis Hare, and Aaron Randolph III in Glengarry Glen RossDavid Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross is arguably, though not that arguably, the author's best-known, best-loved, and all-around best play. (Thanks to 1992's celebrated film version, I have friends - including friends who don't really like plays - who can quote entire scenes verbatim.) And it's no overstatement to say that the cast recruited for the Curtainbox Theatre Company's presentation of this exhilaratingly profane comedy is ridiculously gifted. At one point here, you'll find Michael Kennedy, Pat Flaherty, Eddie Staver III, Louis Hare, and Daniel D.P. Sheridan all sharing the Village Theatre stage, and that's before David Furness and Tristan Tapscott show up.

Kevin Brake, Don Hazen, Mike Kelly, Paul Workman, and Vicki Deusinger in See How They RunSee How They Run, currently being staged at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre, is described on the venue's Web site as "a classic farce of mistaken identity and slamming doors." But in actuality, only two parts of that three-part statement turn out to be accurate.

Paul Gregory Nelson, Tom Walljasper, and Brad Hauskins in Mid-Life! The Crisis MusicalThe Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's latest is Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical, and it's pretty much exactly what you'd expect given the title and exclamation point in the title: a cheeky, kind of forced, kind of obvious song-and-dance revue that pokes gentle fun at memory and hair loss, adulterous urges, prostate exams, and other "wacky" perils of aging.

Kathi Osborne, Carrie Saloutos, and Jessica Swersey in Circa '21's Mid-Life! The Crisis MusicalAt last count, there were a whopping 46 area-theatre productions scheduled between September and December, and included among the titles are A Dog's Life, The Big Funk, Scrooge!, Don't Hug Me, and Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical. It's the season that my editor, Jeff, has been waiting for!

James Bleecker, Jackie Madunic, Ray Gabica, and Jason Platt in Long Day's Journey Into NightAs I never tire of telling people, Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night ranks first on my list of all-time favorite plays, which puts me in league with, I'd imagine, several thousand others over the years. Widely considered the greatest work ever written by the author widely considered the greatest playwright our country has yet produced, O'Neill's autobiographical epic is nothing less than America's answer to King Lear - an incisive, harrowing, and altogether exhilarating study of family conducted with a microscope and a scalpel.

Jeff De Leon and Stephanie Burrough in Hate MailThey don't touch, they don't come within five feet of each other, and with one notable exception, they don't share a moment of eye contact. But in the Riverbend Theatre Collective's current production of Hate Mail, Jeff De Leon and Stephanie Burrough exude such combustible comic spark that you wouldn't necessarily want them to interact directly; the Village Theatre might damn well go up in flames.

Jonathan Grafft and Jessica Nicol in Rabbit HoleAlthough its script is a great deal funnier than you might be expecting, the profound senses of heartbreak and loss that fuel David Lindsay-Abaire's Rabbit Hole tend to sneak up on you and hit like waves, knocking you off balance and leaving you somewhat shaken. Anyone attending the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's current presentation of the playwright's family drama is advised to bring tissues. (Unless you go the route I did, and surreptitiously dry your cheeks during scene-change blackouts.) Yet there's something else you might also want to bring, something I hadn't anticipated through a mere reading of this Pulitzer Prize-winner: a bib.

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