Beards, beers, and bucks abounded Saturday night as the Richmond Hill Players presented Escanaba in 'da Moonlight, a comedy written by Emmy-award winning actor Jeff Daniels. The program notes that Daniels, of Dumb & Dumber fame, is primarily a dramatic actor, but make no mistake: This production was straight-up slapstick comedy.

Life is full of many different highs and lows that make up the human experience. We may have trials and tribulations, unexpected loss, unforeseen disappointment, and sadness, but we also have happiness, joy, and love. Memories are stored in our brains that, over time, can fade or become distorted. Now what would it be like if we downloaded those memories into a computerized holograph? So goes this science-fiction play by Jordan Harrison, called Marjorie Prime.

Before attending Friday's performance of the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's A Wrinkle in Time, I knew very little about Madeleine L'Engle's beloved science-fantasy novel, save for the recent movie trailer featuring Oprah Winfrey. And as I watched the near-capacity, all-ages audience file in, I could sense an air of joyful anticipation, not unlike the one you might find at the screening of a Harry Potter movie. But by the end of the performance, I felt confused and more than a little disappointed.

Thirty-five years ago, as her birthday present, I took my wife out for our first “classy” date to the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse. I had arranged for a dear friend (shout-out to Bill Sensenbrenner) to be our Bootlegger, and wanted to treat my wife to the thrill of seeing Circa '21 produce the musical Annie for the very first time. It was an elegant evening boasting a topnotch performance that we both remember to this day. Fast forward 35 years, and we found ourselves doing the exact same thing on November 9 by enjoying an elegant evening of food, friends, and Circa '21’s latest extraordinary production of – what else? – Annie!

With actor/playwright Jeff Daniels' comedy described by Variety magazine as “laugh-out-loud stuff” that “proceeds at a fast clip,” Geneseo's Richmond Barn Theatre closes its 2018 season of returning audience favorites with Escanaba in 'da Moonlight, a riotous and heartwarming tale of Midwestern male bonding that, according to the Chicago Tribune, “manages to be both politically incorrect and comedically accurate.”

Winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, author Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog will make its area debut at Davenport's QC Theatre Workshop November 2 through 18, the show's riveting exploration of African-American experience called “an utterly mesmerizing evening of theatre” by Variety magazine, with the New York Times adding that the play “vibrates with the clamor of big ideas, audaciously and exuberantly expressed.”

Enjoying an area-theatre presentation mere months after its film version emerged as a $100-million-grossing springtime hit for Disney, Madeleine L'Engle's iconic children's-book A Winkle in Time wraps up the Playcrafters Barn Thatre's 2018 season with a family-adventure bang, its November 9 through 18 run treating audiences to a stage work the Chicago Reader deemed “a spirited retelling that captures the heart of (L'Engle's) magic.”

Described by the New York Times as an “elegant, thoughtful, and quietly unsettling drama” that “keeps developing in your head, like a photographic negative, long after you have seen it,” author Jordan Harrison's Marjorie Prime will be staged by New Ground Theatre November 9 through 18, treating audiences to a futuristic tale that Time Out New York calls “an elegant study of memory as both escape and prison.”

From November 9 through 18, a quintet of works by one of America's most acclaimed and prolific writers serves as the opening presentation in Scott Community College's 2018-19 theatre season, with Lives of the Saints: Five One-Acts treating audiences to the witty, silly, and hilarious words and actions of author David Ives, the Tony-nominated author of Venus in Fur whom the New York Times called a “maestro of the short form.”

Appearing as the latest guests in Quad City Arts Visiting Artists series, actors from the Griffin Theatre of Chicago will stage their acclaimed, unique military drama Letters Home at St. Ambrose University of November 4, the incisive and moving production that the Daily Herald called “a thoughtfully conceived, quietly eloquent show” that “avoids geo-politics and paints a compelling portrait of the men and women who carry out the country's political will.”

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