Though they traditionally deliver pre-show entertainment for the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's mainstage productions, the theatre's wait staff of Bootleggers will be “the main course” on the five Thursdays in August when the singing and dancing servers present The Best of the Bootleggers, an August 1 through 29 revue of some of the gifted performers' most memorable pre-show performances from Circa '21's 42 seasons.

Winner of five 2013 Tony Awards and the record-holder for the most Olivier Awards – the United Kingdom's equivalent of the Tony – ever won by a musical, the Broadway smash Matilda: The Musical makes its long-awaited area debut at Moline's Spotlight Theatre August 2 through 11, treating family audiences to a delightful entertainment for all ages, and a work the New York Times called “an exhilarating tale of empowerment” told with “astonishing slyness and grace.”

Although it was sweltering outside on Friday night, it was cool and comfortable inside the North Scott High School Fine Arts Auditorium. Nonetheless, a heat wave of talented artists stormed the stage as Countryside Community Theatre and Lancer Productions put on a sizzling opening-night performance of the jukebox musical Mamma Mia!

You know ABBA, right? The 1970s pop group, beloved worldwide, wrote and recorded the catchiest tunes this side of Lennon and McCartney? The Swedish foursome were all over the airwaves, and still are, and their body of work was the springboard that launched the musical Mamma Mia! The Timber Lake Playhouse is running its spectacular production of the show now. Grab a seat before they're gone.

One of the most political of ancient-Greek comedies – and, in adapter Don Wooten's hands, one of the most nuttily satisfying – serves as Genesius Guild's traditional season-ending slapstick when the company presents Ecclesiazusae from July 27 through August 4, Aristophanes' one-act farce delivering laughs, commentary, and a madcap, Mack Sennett chase around Rock Island's Lincoln Park stage.

Named “Best Musical of the Year” by Time magazine, Newsweek, and the Outer Critics Circle Awards, the tuneful, tap-dancing entertainment Dames at Sea serves as the season-ending production for the Mississippi Bend Players at Augustana College's Brunner Theatre Center, the show's July 26 through August 4 run demonstrating why the New York Times called it “a gem of a musical” and United Press International deemed it “an instant hit.”

It's magical to enter the theatre at Prospect Park and take in the huge, overarching proscenium studded with large round bulbs and that dark-red velvety curtain. Before Thursday's preview performance, I took a deep, happy breath as I absorbed this classic-American-theatre ambiance and anticipated a dazzling musical spectacle – and Quad City Music Guild gave me what I wanted.

Sure, it’s cliché. But of all the Shakespeare tragedies, Hamlet is my favorite, so I was excited to take in director Alaina Pascarella’s version in Lincoln Park on Saturday night. And Genesius Guild took this classic, trimmed it down, and kept it enjoyable for enthusiastic William Shakespeare fans and newcomers both.

I won't be coy: The Playcrafters Barn Theatre's Something Intangible, by Bruce Graham, is an imagining of the relationship between brothers Walt and Roy Disney, but with the names changed. They co-founded the Disney Bros. Studios, with Walt the visionary and Roy the money man.

Whenever I visit Geneseo's Richmond Hill Barn Theatre, I'm reminded of how wholesome, welcoming, and beautiful this location in the Midwest is, and how this unique venue is truly a lovely place to take in a show. The players’ latest production, author Jack Sharkey's Missing Link, is a marital comedy full of all kinds of twists and turns, mistaken identities, and romantic conundrums, and it gives patrons a lighthearted look at the things we do for love.

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