Boasting what the Washington Post called “fresh, off-kilter elements” and a score that “bubbles with New Orleans shuffle and sass,” the family holiday musical The Happy Elf makes its area debut at Moline's Spotlight Theatre December 6 through 9, its music and lyrics courtesy of none other than Grammy-winning and Tony-nominated music legend Harry Connick Jr.

An American stage drama as powerful, affecting, and deeply relevant today as it was in its 1934 debut, Lillian Hellman's classic The Children's Hour will be produced in Augustana College's Brunner Theatre Center December 6 through 9, its tale of clandestine love and small-minded bigotry standing as a haunting reminder of the continued horrors of intolerance.

Christmas can be magical. It’s a time for love, cheer, and miracles. And all three of those holiday attributes are currently being dished up at the Black Box Theatre in its production of It Had to Be You.

I've always enjoyed the children’s-theatre presentations at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, and Saturday morning’s performance of Pinocchio brought me yet another magical experience that I thoroughly appreciated. A lighthearted, classic tale about a wooden puppet and his maker’s wish for him to become a real little boy, director Warner Crocker's show emphasizes a positive message about the importance of honesty and is filled with imaginative characters that bring this wonderful story to life.

Lauded by Broadway World as “a stunning new holiday musical” and by The Independent as “a beautiful story” that's “fun for the whole family,” the touring Christmastime production Noël: The Musical brings seasonal messages and beautiful music to Davenport's Adler Theatre on December 2, and with a depth that led The Independent to call it “a feel-good show, but with a storyline touching on the very real issues of homelessness, bullying, loneliness, and the materialism of the holidays.”

With its latest musical described by Bold Life magazine as “some kind of wonderful” and by the Asheville Citizen-Times as “an old-fashioned holiday greeting card come to life,” Quad City Music Guild brings a timeless holiday treat to the stage in its November 29 through December 2 run of Miracle in Bedford Falls, a brand-new theatrical imagining of the Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life.

A special one-act version of the hilarious fairytale musical that won Great Britain's 2000 Olivier Ward for Best Musical – and triumphed over such contenders as Mamma Mia! and The Lion King – the family entertainment Honk! Jr. will make its area debut at St. Ambrose University's Galvin Fine Arts Center on December 1 and 2, demonstrating why Broadway World praised the show's “lightness of touch” and adding that there's “plenty for kids, parents, and grandparents to enjoy.”

An elderly woodcarver, a magical blue fairy, a singing and dancing fox and cat, and a wooden puppet who longs to be a real boy will all grace the stage from November 23 through December 29, as Rock Island's Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse presents show-only and brunch performances of Pinocchio, the holiday family musical based on the classic fairytale.

Described by the New York Post as “sweet, funny, and sassy” and by CBS's Dennis Cunningham as “a comic miracle of non-stop laughter,” the romantic-comedy-with-a-twist It Had to Be You enjoys a November 23 through December 2 staging at Moline's Black Box Theatre, the holiday-themed show ideally timed for those seeking, according to the Post, “a cartoon comedy of great dexterity and loving warmth.”

Lincoln, Booth, and a gun. What could go wrong? As you will come to find out in the latest QC Theatre Workshop presentation Topdog/Underdog, pretty much everything. This production is dark and riveting, even if you can see the inevitable end from the get-go.

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