A real-life confession: I typically spend Sunday evenings at home watching Netflix, so spending it in Lincoln Park with Genesius Guild's production of The Merchant of Venice was a refreshing change. While it is known as one of William Shakespeare’s “problem plays,” and I would agree with that assessment, this performance was still a great way to forget thinking about Monday.

A disappearing body, missing evidence, blood on a chair, and a pursuing investigation – so goes the spirited comedy BusyBody, written by Jack Popplewell and directed by Joe DePauw. Sunday’s matinée performance at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre was rife with lively slapstick and subtle humor, taking us into the world of Mrs. Piper (Jackie Skiles), a spunky office cleaning lady who has stumbled her way into a murder mystery.

It’s not often that I walk away from a show thinking about who I am as a person and how I can do better. Yet that is exactly what happened Friday night after the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's production of Clybourne Park, and director Alexander Richardson should be proud of his thought-provoking, darkly comedic production that demands more of its audience than the usual area-stage fare.

As the wind blew and the rain poured, I was concerned about making it to the current play at Augustana College's Brunner Theatre Center without being swept away by the currents of water flooding the streets of Rock Island. Thankfully, though – and with added thanks to Cart to the Art driver John D'Aversa – even a severe thunderstorm couldn't keep me from the Mississippi Bend Players' opening-night production of The Glass Menagerie.

The first thing I noticed as I walked into Thursday's stunning, powerful, opening-night performance of the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre's Cabaret was the temperature. As I glanced around looking for meat hooks, I realized that many of the theatre's more seasoned attendees had brought along sweaters, coats, and even blankets. But the chill in the air gave no indication of the show's eventual heat.

Nominated for five 2001 Tony Awards and currently the ninth-longest-running Broadway production in history, the internationally beloved musical Mamma Mia! enjoys its first extended Quad Cities run at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse July 18 through September 15, the show's collection of timeless tunes from the Swedish pop group ABBA leading the New York Post to call the experience “one of those nights when you sit back and let a nutty kind of joy just sweep over you.”

If you’ve never been privy to the theatre-audition process, you may not realize how intense and cut-throat an experience it can be, and as A Chorus Line – currently being presented at Quad City Music Guild’s Prospect Park Auditorium – teaches us, it’s not always about how talented you are; sometimes it’s merely who you know. But while that bias can be an unfortunate reality, Music Guild’s vast display of on-stage talent dazzles you into momentarily forgetting the injustice.

What are guys supposed to do when they lose their jobs because the local mill is closing? It’s bad enough to be unemployed, but with nothing on the horizon except low-level work, a man can feel like he's nothing but an emasculated scrap of crap. If you're unlucky enough to be one of a ragtag group of jobless and desperate dudes, you do the obvious … and become a male stripper.

Recently making the top five of the New York Times' list of “25 Best American Plays Since Angels in America,” author Bruce Norris' acclaimed comedic drama Clybourne Park will be staged at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre July 13 through 22, the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner described by the Hollywood Reporter as “provactive entertainment that generates as much uneasiness as laughter.”

Reviewing Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie in the New York Times, Ben Brantley asked,“How can something be this delicate and this strong, so elusive and yet so tenacious?” Those qualities will all be in force when the Mississippi Bend Players stage this enduring, Tony Award-winning classic at Augustana College, its July 13 through 22 run demonstrating why the Times called it “a perfect play.”

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