Delivering what Talkin' Broadway describes as "laugh-out-loud moments and a wonderful life lesson about not letting life pass you by," the Paul Elliott comedy Exit Laughing opens the 2024 theatre season at Geneseo's Richmond Hill Barn Theatre, its April 11 through 21 run sure to deliver what Stage Whispers hailed for its "great script, great timing" and "great fun."

Enjoying a three-performance Adler Theatre run, the musical-comedy smash The Book of Mormon returns to Davenport on March 29 and 30, with Ben Brantley's 2011 New York Times review proclaiming, “I am here to report that a newborn, old-fashioned, pleasure-giving musical has arrived … the kind our grandparents told us left them walking on air, if not on water. So hie thee hence, nonbelievers (and believers, too), to The Book of Mormon, and feast upon its sweetness.”

Plucky, abused orphans. English-language literature is full of 'em: Dickens' lads Oliver Twist and David Copperfield; Canada's Anne Shirley; America's optimistic Annie; prehistoric Europe's Ayl; contemporary Britain's Harry Potter. One 177-year-old orphan still going strong is Jane Eyre.

The premise is simple enough. A group of five women are getting together to celebrate a bride-to-be. Their activity of choice is a paint night, where they'll all be guided through the created replication of a particular painting. Along the way, they’ll drink, gossip, and expel their deepest, darkest secrets. This isn't to imply that things here aren’t funny – they frequently are. It’s just that Paint Night's comedy feels more like light seasoning in a rather heavy stew. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Lauded by Talkin' Broadway as a family entertainment that "bounces onto the stage with confidence, energy, and goodwill to spare," the children's-book adaptation Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Musical enjoys a March 21 through May 18 engagement as Rock Island's Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, this charming and hilarious song-and-dance extravaganza also hailed by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune as " a buoyant and kind show" in which "the script is funny" and "the pop-meets-Broadway songs are bouncy and clever."

From March 15 through 24, audiences at Moline's Playcrafters Barn Theatre are invited to help celebrate Women's History Month with the area debut of author Carey Crim's Paint Night, a sweet and salty tale of friendship, and a comedic drama praised by Broadway World for "understanding the emotions and the universe of these characters" while delivering "the catharsis so vital to a good theatrical experience."

Nominated for five 2001 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and lauded by Talkin' Broadway as a "successful dramatic interpretation of the ever-popular novel," the Charlotte Brontë adaptation Jane Eyre makes its area debut at Moline's Black Box Theatre from March 15 through 29, this rich and thoughtful entertainment also praised by Talkin' Broadway for its "luxuriant score, haunting and memorable music, and crisp, intelligent lyrics."

A faithful dramatization filled with adventure, courage, love, and the triumph of good over evil, C.S. Lewis' timeless tale The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe will enjoy a three-performance run at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts March 8 through 10, its presentation by Young Footliters Youth Theatre boasting a gifted cast of student actors from grades six through 12.

Based on the beloved Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson book Growing Up Lutheran and an ever-popular stage entertainment for nearly 20 years, Church Basement Ladies makes an eagerly awaited return to Rock Island's Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, its March 6 through April 27 run sure to demonstrate why Broadway World called the experience “a completely fun evening” that's “really, really funny.”

Spaceworms, now playing at the St. Ambrose University Studio Theatre, is Haus of Ruckus’s latest foray into exotic locales, obscure pop culture references, and puppetry. Directed by T. Green, the Haus’s newest is a delight for those obsessed with sci-fi pop culture and unfamiliar with the oeuvre of the company.

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