It was a sweltering-hot day this past Saturday in the Quad Cities, but it was quite refreshing being under the sea with the cast of Disney’s The Little Mermaid at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre. As I sat back in my seat enjoying the music, I heard the precious young girl seated behind me sweetly singing along with the teenage mermaid Ariel (Aria Braswell) in a very soft voice. I realized then how powerful and influential this musical fantasy was, and still is, for children everywhere.

Heat-advisory warning notwithstanding, Genesius Guild's staging of Prometheus Bound in Rock Island’s Lincoln Park was an experience not to be missed. As with most Greek tragedies, there is a moral dilemma that can give audiences insight into their lives, and director Michael Callahan staged a meaningful production that remains relevant 2,500 years after it was was written. (Who would have guessed we’d still be battling tyrants?)

Winner of nine Tony Awards, and the rare musical to also win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Broadway's legendary A Chorus Line will enjoy its first-ever Quad City Music Guild presentation July 6 through 15, demonstrating why the 1976 New York production ran a staggering 6,137 performances, and why the New York Times called its debut “a smoke signal to the world that the musical can touch unexpected depths in the human heart.”

Bravo to the Mississippi Bend Players for magnificently transporting patrons back in time – back to when Huckleberry Finn (Quinn Rigg) and his humble slave companion Jim (LaRon Grant) traveled along the banks of the Mississippi River on a meager log raft – in the powerful musical Big River. Friday's opening-night performance at Augustana College's Brunner Theatre Center was simply stunning, with the entire cast reminding me why I love the fine arts.

There’s a new band in town – and they’re only around for two more nights. It’s Hedwig & the Angry Inch, and the Circa '21 Speakeasy is the perfect venue for a show that is simply a rock concert. With just enough Quad City references thrown in to make it seem like an actual tour, Hedwig (Anthony Natarelli) and her band (Kyle Jecklin on bass, Peter Letendre on drums, and Ben Kays on guitar) take you on a captivating musical recollection of the headliner's life.

Garson Kanin’s Born Yesterday was a Broadway hit in 1946, and while the subject matter holds up 72 years later, it isn’t strictly necessary that it does. While there are some parallels to be drawn from the Timber Lake Playhouse’s production and today’s society, the audience at Friday night’s performance didn’t seem to dwell on them, as director Chuck Smith put forth a straightforward comedy that elicited some chuckles but probably not intense political discussions.

A classic stage work that, according to the New York Times, is “rich in poetic imagery” while demonstrating that “even for the Greek gods, what goes around comes around,” Aeschylus' Greek tragedy Prometheus Bound serves as the latest production in Gensius Guild's 2018 season, its June 30 through July 8 presentation enacted by a cast of 16 and with its chief characters performing in period-appropriate masks.

Every summer, the Quad Cities is blessed with an extensive live-theatre scene, and the months are crowded with show after show. Many of them are epic or extravagant productions such as Mame, The Marriage of Figaro, Beauty & the Beast, The Bridges of Madison Country, The Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ Superstar and those are just examples from the first half of June.

But then there are the smaller, more intimate ones. Presentations of works that you’ve maybe never heard of. Things that sound interesting but are overshadowed by bigger, more well-known titles. Shows such as the Black Box Theatre’s musical offering Baby – which may well prove to be the sweetest, most heartfelt, and most authentic musical you’ll see all season long.

At Friday night's final dress rehearsal of Genesius Guild's As You Like It, there were instances in which performers were forced to overcome numerous distractions from around the park. The distant sounds of children on the playground, a flock of birds singing their twilight song, an occasional motorcycle passing by … even the noise of a rushing freight train from the bottom of the hill.

One could make the case that these distractions would lessen the overall enjoyability of this Shakespeare production. But I found the opposite to be the case, for they reminded me that this is public theatre at its finest – an opportunity for all to come and enjoy classical theatre no matter the emptiness of their pockets (though donations are gratefully accepted), and even if performed in the sweltering mid-June heat, by actors with true love for and dedication to the art.

Life is tricky with Trixie, considering she’s a toddler who communicates only in gestures and gibberish. Such is the premise of the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse’s absolutely delightful children’s show Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical.

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