Prolific theatre pioneer Charles Ludlum wrote some 30 plays; taught; founded an acclaimed theatre company; and acted on stage, film, and TV. His most popular work was 1984's penny dreadful The Mystery of Irma Vep, in which he and his partner Everett Quinton played all the characters, with full costume changes for each entrance. Ludlum's life was cut short by AIDS in 1987. Quinton, who revived the show off-Broadway in 1998, died this past January. And the Black Box Theatre's current production may be seen as a fond tribute to these inspired men.

Admittedly, Oliver! is one of those musicals that instantly takes me back to my formative years, as I fondly remember watching the 1968 film version at school and at home. It would have taken a total disaster for the Spotlight Theatre to leave me disappointed. Luckily for everyone, though, director Sara Tubbs’s production is a sensory delight: it looked and sounded terrific. Sure, the “unwashed” youth of this production went a little extreme with the makeup's dirt smudges. But if given the chance, who wouldn’t overly grime up, right?

This spring, the student talents of Augustana College's OperX ensemble will treat audiences to alternating performances of both a full one-act opera and excerpts from the operatic repertoire, with the gifted singers and director Patrick McNally staging composer Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl & the Night Visitors on April 21 and 23, and works by Mozart, Gilbert & Sullivan, Bizet, Monteverdi, and more in the vocal revue Stolen Scenes on April 20 and 22.

Lauded by CurtainUp as "a masterful study of the human soul," Sholem Asch's acclaimed and incendiary 1906 drama God of Vengeance enjoys a student-produced run at Augustana College from April 27 through 30, this Jewish masterwork described by Broadway World as "full of complex characters whose motives invite debate."

A timeless Broadway sensation whose film version won six Academy Awards including Best Picture, the Charles Dickens adaptation Oliver! enjoys an April 14 through 23 run at Moline's Spotlight Theatre, this Tony-winning family spectacle noted for playing in New York for more than two years and its original London run lasting a then-record-breaking 2,618 performances.

With the Geneseo venue's 2023 season opener lauded by Talkin' Broadway as “a fast-paced, quick-witted, an funny comedy with a bright, happy ending,” the stage sequel Drinking Habits 2: Caught in the Act will be staged at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre April 20 through 30, this wacky slapstick a continuation to the terrifically popular Drinking Habits that made its area premiere last spring.

With its brisk pace, lean hour-and-10-minute duration, lack of intermission, and lively, accomplished cast, this show is so tasty you won't even think about food.

With the New York Daily News calling the play "lunatic fun that keeps you in stitches" and the Village Voice hailing it as a "hearty mixture of thrills, laughter and extravagant showmanship," author Charles Ludlum's stage sensation The Mystery of Irma Vep makes its long-awaited area debut at Moline's Black Box Theatre April 13 through 22, the New York Post having added, "The story has to be seen to be believed."

Lauded by the LA Review as "an eerie excursion into the surreal and the supernatural," the seven short works that constitute Very Still & Hard to See (A Short Play Cycle) will be presented at Bettendorf's Scott Community College from April 13 to 16, their author Steve Yockey a producer and writer for TV's Supernatural who received two Emmy nominations for the HBO comedy series The Flight Attendant.

I’ll be honest: The crazy, early-spring, heavy snowstorm that knocked out power to my house earlier in my Saturday soured my mood, and I was not really looking forward to going out to see playwright Bradley Robert Jensen's Anywhere But Here. This, though, made it all the better that this workshop production turned out to be such a gem – Jensen's slice-of-life piece is heartfelt and laugh-out-loud funny while still broaching some heady topics.