In 1943, Rodgers & Hammerstein wrote Oklahoma!, and consequently created a new genre of theatre that combined elements of drama with vocals and a musical score. Nearly 70 years later, for the first time, I saw the musical performed on stage, in a production by Countryside Community Theatre. I expected antiquity, but instead found the songs inspiring, the relationships (relatively) fresh, and the dialogue surprisingly funny. While Countryside's interpretation of the production incorporates performers of widely varying ages and experience levels - a few of the younger performers were hard to hear at the Thursday-night preview - the show is an example of community theatre at its finest.

At the end of Act I at Saturday's Clinton Area Showboat Theatre presentation of Noises Off, the couple sitting next to me said they weren't going to stay for the remainder of the play. (They, along with the rest of the audience, hadn't laughed all that much during the first portion of this comedy.) Apparently, however, the two changed their minds during intermission and did stay - and it was a good choice, as the show grew progressively funnier over the next two acts.

Janos Horvath, Tristan Tapscott, Bret Churchill, Elizabeth Miller, and Sara Nicks in Go, Dog. Go!Clocking in at just under 50 minutes at the opening matinée, the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's (under) 21 Youth Theatre's adaptation of Go, Dog. Go! is a great opportunity for preschool and early school-aged kids to experience their first local-theatre production. (In retrospect, I could've even taken my 20-month-old daughter, along with a Snack Trap and three refills of Cheerios.) The show features a series of simple vignettes plucked from the pages of P.D. Eastman's 1961 children's-book classic about the friendship between six adorable canines. And while the general lack of dialogue or a steady plotline may bore some adults, the rudimentary yet whimsical scenes and characters will likely appeal to the under-10 crowd.

Adam Michael Lewis, Aaron Randolph III, and Mike Schulz in ArtI distinctly remember, in 1998, watching a PBS documentary prior to the 52nd Tony Awards ceremony, one in which I was enraptured by a segment featuring a nominated play. Captivating me with its quick-paced, witty, and sharp-tongued dialogue, the play was author Yasmina Reza's Art, and the clip featured the original Broadway cast of Alan Alda, Victor Garber, and Alfred Molina, making my desire to see it all the deeper. The show's premise, though, seemed almost stupid, involving the purchase of a white painting for $200,000. "How could anyone create a play around that concept," I thought, "and make it remotely interesting?"

Thursday's opening night performance of Sunday in the Park with George was far more of an emotional experience than I had anticipated. Prior to opening night, cast members posted Facebook messages saying rehearsals were moving them to tears, and chalking it up to their emotions being heightened by the experience of doing the show - as can often happen with a cast and crew - I didn't expected to be equally moved. I was wrong, with tears streaming down my face multiple times during the performance.

J. Adam Lounsberry, Tracy Pelzer-Timm, Jenny Winn, and Nathan Bates in Guys & DollsWith its whopping cast size and an equally daunting song list, Guys & Dolls doesn't seem like the best choice for a rookie director. But that didn't stop local actor Jason Platt from taking the helm of Quad City Music Guild's first summer offering, and making a darned good run of it. To be sure, the Thursday-night preview show either needed a few major cuts to shave off at least 20 minutes of the two-hours-and-50-minute (including intermission) run time, or a quicker musical pace set by music director Charles DCamp. However, the lead vocal performances were phenomenal, the female dance numbers were great fun to watch, and the set design and high-quality costumes effectively represented New York City, circa 1940.

Stacy McKean Herrick, Nathan Johnson, Kady Patterson, Archie Williams, and Jackie Skiles in Funny ValentinesCharacter confusion makes for an enjoyable, lighthearted comedy in Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's current summer offering, Funny Valentines. And though the opening-night performance had a slow and somewhat shaky start in terms of line deliveries, the actors quickly settled into their roles and let their characters' quirks shine through.

ensemble members in the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre's RentAs a frequent theatre-goer, both professionally and preferentially, it's refreshing to see familiar material presented in a different way. Such is the case with the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre's production of Rent. Director Patrick Stinson and his cast abandon most of the conventions of the Broadway production, creating their own interpretation and consequently instilling more fun into this musical story of Bohemian life in New York's Alphabet City.

scene from Stefano Brancato's 2009 production of IcarusWhen director/designer Stefano Brancato characterizes his forthcoming theatre workshops as "boot camp," the description is initially surprising, considering that the focus of the week-long area courses is puppetry. After all, as the 30-year-old Brooklyn resident says, "in a lot of puppetry, the performer, the puppeteer, is in a kind of static position," and not necessarily part of a piece's main action.

Yet for the two workshops that he'll be conducting through Davenport Junior Theatre - one designed for ages 10 through 18, one ages 18 and older, and both running June 14 through 19 - "boot camp" does seem an appropriate phrase, as Brancato states that he and Junior Theatre's artistic director, Daniel D.P. Sheridan, were hoping to "break the rules a little bit" in terms of what a puppetry course could entail.

Tom Walljasper, Carrie Sa Loutos, and Autumn O'Ryan in Whodunit... the MusicalIt doesn't feature a question mark, but the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's Whodunit... the Musical may still not have the right question in its title; after viewing Saturday's performance, I was instead asking myself, "What is it?" The show's book, for the most part, is a straightforward murder-mystery, the majority of its songs make for a bright and cheery musical, and the climax and dénouement are straight out of drawing-room farce. It's an identity crisis bigger than the mystery afoot in the show's plot.

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