Matt Mercer and Steve Quartell in Of Mice and MenIn the Harrison Hilltop Theatre's current take on John Steinbeck's Of Mice & Men, actor Jim Seward plays the chatty, friendly ranch hand Candy, and at one point tells a story about his boss treating the workers to a gallon of whiskey for Christmas. It's a charming little reminiscence - Candy, in the terrifically ingratiating personage of Seward, giggles with delight at the memory - but it's also one that would probably be quickly forgotten if the scenes that followed didn't keep bringing it to mind.

Adam Lewis, Beth Woolley, and David Furness in The Winter's TaleRoughly 10 minutes before the Prenzie Players' presentation of The Winter's Tale gets underway, there's a brief, improvisational scene between the Bohemian king Polixenes (David Furness) and Prince Mamillius (Stephanie Moeller), the young son of the king and queen of Sicily.

the Holly Jolly Christmas ensembleNo show that opens with 10 sharply dressed, great-looking, terrifically talented performers dancing a spirited tap number can be all that bad, which is a good thing for Holly Jolly Christmas, the musical revue currently playing at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse. Considering, however, that the production has no loftier purposes beyond entertaining crowds with familiar holiday tunes and spreading a little yuletide cheer, I think audiences could be easily forgiven for turning to their theatre-going companions after the curtain call and saying, "Well, that was nice... but what the hell was it?"

Laila Haley, Andrew Hall, Sydney Crumbleholme, John Weigandt, Alyssa Castro, and Katie Moore in Papa's AngelsThe Playcrafters Barn Theatre's current, holiday-themed family presentation Papa's Angels begins on a note - or rather, a bunch of notes - of incredible sweetness.

Duffy Hudson as Edgar Allan Poe in In the Shadow of the Raven"It must have been around Halloween," recalls actor/playwright Duffy Hudson. "I was nine, and my father came into my room and started reading 'The Raven' to me. And I remember thinking, 'What the heck is this story about? What's this bird doing in this guy's room? And who is Lenore?'

Jonathan Kasch in Haunted LivesScott Community College debuted its fall theatre offering(s) on Thursday, a pair of John Pielmeier one-acts under the blanket title Haunted Lives. And while I'd prefer this article not be read as a traditional review - because, for understandable reason, the production wasn't really in any kind of shape to be reviewed - I'll preface with perhaps the highest compliment I can give its participants: They made it through.

James Bleecker, Steve Lasiter, and Cari Dowling in The Rocky Horror ShowMaybe it's because co-founders Tristan Tapscott and Chris Walljasper are finally appearing in one of their venue's shows, or maybe because it's tough not to have fun when watching a dozen people in heavy eyeliner singing and dancing "The Time Warp." But whatever the reason, the Harrison Hilltop Theatre's joyous and fearless production of The Rocky Horror Show feels, to me, like the very first production that's truly the Harrison Hilltop's. Not the author's, not the performers', but the company's as a whole. And it's an inspiring sight to see.

At heart, the 1990 tragicomedy The Big Funk is less a theatrical production than a wrestling match, one between its playwright, John Patrick Shanley, and ... John Patrick Shanley.

Lora Adams and Kimberly Furness in Swimming in the ShallowsTruth be told, playwright Adam Bock's Swimming in the Shallows - currently being produced by New Ground Theatre - is a bit of a mess. If, however, a show is fortunate enough to feature Pat Flaherty and Susan Perrin-Sallak as a bickering married couple, Eddie Staver III performing an underwater pas de deux in scuba gear, and a tuxedo-clad shark dancing the Macarena, it doesn't much matter if the script falls apart.

Adam Overberg, Chris White, John VanDeWoestyne, Greg Bouljon, and Mary Bouljon in Around the World in 80 DaysIn the back of any Richmond Hill Barn Theatre program, you'll find a chronological listing of which shows have been produced at the theatre over its past 40 seasons. And while this catalog of titles is nothing if not varied, the assorted comedies, dramas, thrillers, and such do share a common link: Not one of these plays is one you'd feel compelled to attend with young kids in tow. (The Barn did house the holiday comedy The Best Christmas Pageant Ever in 2007, but that was a bonus offering added to the venue's annual six-show lineup and isn't mentioned in the program's inventory.)

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