When director Catherine Bodenbender took center stage at the show's precise curtain time, she reminded the audience to silence their phones and provided a few additional tidbits of information. And then – like a stage manager would typically do behind the scenes – she yelled, “Actors: Places!”, and the cast marched out from their backstage dressing area and took their seats behind the audience. I thought: “This is gonna be cool.”

As soon as the Countess speaks in Jeff Coussens' production, the play is elevated to a new and higher realm entirely. This is, in part, due to the character as written, for the Madwoman sees into the heart of humanity and into the soul of life with the depth and perception of no ordinary human being. This is such a wonderfully endearing and funny role and, not least of all, a very demanding one, and I initially wondered how someone so young would manage it. But from the moment she first spoke, MJ Mason was in complete mastery of her character, and I was smitten.

Not to alarm anyone, but I think there may be a typo in the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's program for The Diviners, because it credits Mike Skiles for the show's “Set Construction.” I'm pretty sure that's meant to say “No-Set Construction,” given that there's literally no set for director Jalayne Riewerts' production – just Richmond Hill's traditional theatre-in-the-round space decorated by occasional props. That's not at all meant as a put-down. This touching, graceful take on playwright Jim Leonard Jr.'s period drama succeeds primarily because of its bare-bones, Our Town-esque simplicity, and those qualities, happily, are mirrored in the engaged, heartfelt portrayals by Riewerts' cast.

Arriving just in time for Halloween, the professional dancers of Ballet Quad Cities will stage choreographer Deanna Carter's adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic horror novel, with the notorious count portrayed by international dance star Domingo Rubio 10 years after he first danced Dracula for the Rock Island-based company.

Up in Smoke. Los Cochinos. “Dave's not here, man.” Ask any fan of classic comedy who those titles and that phrase bring to mind, and you'll be told “Cheech & Chong” – the legendary duo of Richard “Cheech” Marin and Tommy Chong whose 2017 North American tour brings them to Davenport's Rhythm City Casino on October 20.

Let's do the “Time Warp” again! For the second year in a row, the Circa '21 Speakeasy will stage the cult-musical smash The Rocky Horror Show, treating audiences to live performances of classic songs and, of course, prop bags to complete the interactive experience.

Television stars from this past summer transform into autumnal stage stars when Davenport's Adler Theatre hosts the nationally touring World of Dance Live!, a night of astounding choreography featuring a half-dozen acts that appeared on NBC's hit reality-competition series.

Described by comedian, podcast host, and New York Times bestselling author Marc Maron as “a gonzo warrior” and “one of the great American wild men,” standup comedian Kreischer makes a stop at Augustana prior to a fall tour that will find him traveling the country from Irvine, California, to Tampa, Florida.

For the season-opening production in the company's fourteenth year, the verse-theatre troupe the Prenzie Players will, from October 13 through 21, present its first staging of William Shakespeare's classic comedy All's Well That Ends Well – also the first Quad Cities staging of the play in more than a quarter-century.

Produced in its first area staging since 1990, playwright Jean Giradoux's legendary The Madwoman of Chaillot will open Augustana's 2017-18 mainstage season on October 13, with director Jeff Coussens' elaborate production of the French comic fable boasting no less than 28 student actors.