Danielle Colby-Cushman (center) and the women of Burlesque Le' MoustacheFor many, LeClaire resident Danielle Colby-Cushman is best known as a co-star of the History Channel's hit reality series American Pickers, and the office manager for the city's collectibles shop Antique Archeology.

Yet for some, she's perhaps better-known as the director/founder of, and a featured artist in, the area's only practicing burlesque troupe, for which Colby-Cushman performs comedy routines, dances, and (yes) removes her apparel under the stage name Dannie Diesel.

And for those who have either not heard of this unique company of entertainers - performing at Davenport's Capitol Theatre on April 24 - or are unsure of what it is they do, Colby-Cushman offers an example, taken from troupe member Birdie Belleville's 2009 striptease debut.

Tristan Tapscott and Steve Lasiter in RentIn the program's director's notes, Matthew Helton reveals that he stepped into the role of director for the Harrison Hilltop Theatre's production of Rent hours before the first rehearsal, not giving him enough time to do much more than reproduce the Broadway staging of the show. The replication is arguably forgivable, given his time constraints, but also unfortunate, as little of the performance possesses the mark of being the local theatre's own take on composer Jonathan Larson's work. That being said, however, the production lives up to and even exceeds expectations, due to the singing ability of its cast, and the high energy of its band.

Megan Baumunk, Patrick Joslyn, and Riley Hantz and Jake's WomenThe phrase "glorified high school" came to mind when I saw Jake's Women - the Neil Simon comedy that opened last week at Scott Community College - and that's not meant as an insult. Rather, it's a commentary on the limited space and resources the SCC theatre department has to work with, which are a mere step up from those available to local high-school drama departments. Performances are held in the auditorium of the Student Life Center on a proscenium stage fringed by red curtains and flanked by American flags on eagle-topped poles; a rudimentary sound system hangs overhead, beside a single row of lights. (I expected, at any moment, to see Sam the Eagle stride into a scene and deliver a political speech.) Admittedly, the visuals were a bit of a sleep-inducer, but director Steve Flanigin's casting choices kept me awake.

Licia Watson, Nicole Savitt, and Nancy O'Bryan in Church Basement Ladies 2: A Second HelpingThe sequel to Church Basement Ladies, the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's best-selling show (ever!), opened last weekend. And if this second installment, Church Basement Ladies 2: A Second Helping, isn't enough "Uff da!" for audience members, don't worry: Circa '21 is already considering upcoming performances of Away in a Basement and A Mighty Fortress is Our Basement, the next scripts in the series.

Jaci Entwisle and Andy Koski in Troilus & CressidaIf there's anything at which the Prenzie Players excel - and the theatre group excels at quite a few things - it's the ability to convey the meaning of Shakespeare's words to those who may have trouble following the dialogue and, therefore, the plot. (I.e. me.)  And that strength is all the more important in the Prenzies' current undertaking, Troilus & Cressida.  While watching the opening-night performance, I rarely understood what exactly was going on by way of what was said. But thanks to the passion behind how it was said, I was neither bored nor disinterested.

Jan Golz, Lisa Kahn, and Pamela Crouch in The O'Conner GirlsIf there's one word I'd use to best describe Playcrafters Barn Theatre's current production, it would be "nice." And while that can be taken as an unflattering adjective, for The O'Conner Girls I mean it as a positive one; I left the opening-night performance with a smile on my face, one awash with the sweet nostalgia and dash of humor that put it there.

Alex ReymundoTwo veterans of Comedy Central will perform in the Quad Cities this month, neither of whom, in separate interviews, had any trouble recalling his beginnings in professional stand-up.

Bombing on stage, after all, does tend to stick in your memory.

David Turley, Chris Walljasper, Kevin Grastorf, Jason Platt, Sara Elizabeth King, and Cari Downing in Tired American DreamEvery good writer needs an editor. Composer/accompanist Derek Childs certainly needs one for his rock musical Tired American Dream, which debuted at the Harrison Hilltop Theatre last week. The opening-night performance, which lasted two hours with an intermission, had a few talented singers to boost Dream's simple plot, Childs' script has potential, and some of the songs have peppy melodies with sweet and memorable (if word-heavy) lyrics. But as a complete production, Dream felt too much like an early draft in need of revisions.

Chris White and Jessica Nicol White in Wrong for Each OtherThe opening scene of Norm Foster's Wrong for Each Other at Geneseo's Richmond Hill Barn Theatre had me worried that I was in for a fluffy, surface-level relationship comedy in which a divorced man and woman reunite after reminiscing about the happiest moments of their shared past. Thankfully, Wrong delved under that flimsy comedic surface and let viewers in on the arguments and unfortunate familial circumstances that steered the relationship of Rudy Sorenson (Chris White) and Nora Case (Jessica Nicol White) toward an inevitable separation. And while Wrong panders with a predictable ending and plenty of witty banter between the real-life newlyweds, the script felt the most natural, the most right, when its characters stopped putting so much effort into entertaining the audience, and focused on each other.

Jessica Nicol White and Chris White in 2009's Almost, MaineOn February 11, Geneseo's Richmond Hill Barn Theatre opens its 43rd season with Wrong for Each Other, playwright Norm Foster's two-character comedy about a reunion between a long-estranged divorced couple. If, however, that seems an ill-fitting title to open over Valentine's Day weekend, know that the production's stars wound up receiving far more of a Happily Ever After ending than their characters did, as area actors Chris White and Jessica Nicol (White) were married this past Halloween.

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