Move over Romeo and Juliet – there are new star-crossed lovers in town. The QC Theatre Workshop’s latest production, Gruesome Playground Injuries, explores both pain and possibility in a tale of lifelong friendship and love.

As I parked in the Playcrafters Barn Theatre lot, I noticed a deer lingering in the tree line. The sight made me chuckle, as Bambi apparently missed the memo that the show currently playing is The Wolves. Or maybe it knew the title refers to a girl’s indoor-soccer team named after the big, bad woodland creature.

The Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's Singin' in the Rain will have you laughin' at clouds, no matter how dark the weather. The 1983 musical is based on the beloved 1952 film, with its screenplay (and the musical's book) by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed writing music and lyrics for most of its tunes, many of which are borrowed from 1920s and 1930s films (by MGM, natch, which concocted this film). Thus, the show is in many ways a jukebox musical, and Circa '21's production uses the 2012 revival's script, which is a pared-down and shuffled version of the original.

I always like rooting for the underdog, and Saturday’s matinée performance of Disney’s Newsies: The Musical at the Timber Lake Playhouse is a David-versus-Goliath story full of vibrant and energetic dancing, coupled with excellent singing, as the cast of 27 took on this delightful Broadway smash. I especially enjoyed the scenic design by David Goldstein – an expanded set of rusty steel bars that were constructed into high platforms and stairs, reminding me of Elvis Presley's Jailhouse Rock set.

With the Washington Post calling the play “mystical, arresting, and quirkily amusing” and the New York Daily News deeming it “irresistibly odd and exciting,” the dark romance Gruesome Playground Injuries, from September 20 through October 6, serves as the opening production for the 2019-20 season at Davenport's QC Theatre Workshop, its author Rajiv Joseph described by the New York Times as “an artist of original talent” with a “darkly funny, piquant sensibility.”

Described by The Village Voice as “a delightful meditation on society, sex, and soccer” and by The Hollywood Reporter as “a dizzying whirl of attitude, anxiety, and adolescent hormonal volatility,” The Wolves makes its area debut at Moline's Playcrafters Barn Theatre September 13 through 22, this funny and moving 2016 work inspiring the New York Times to rave “The scary, exhilarating brightness of raw adolescence emanates from every scene of this uncannily assured first play by Sarah DeLappe.”

Boasting dialogue that, according to the New York Times, “crackles with bright wit and intelligence” and described as its author's “finest play since the Pulitzer Prize-winning Dinner with Friends,” Tony Award nominee Donald Margulies' Time Stands Still serves as the first studio-theatre production of St. Ambrose University's 2019-20 season, its September 5 through 7 demonstrating why Variety magazine raved, “The play's two hours fly by as if time has stood still and you've barely taken a breath.”

Lauded by Broadway World as “a fantastic production sure to satisfy old fans and charm new ones,” the theatrical adaptation of one of Hollywood's most revered movie musicals – the timeless Singin' in the Rain – makes its long-awaited return to Rock Island's Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse September 11 through November 2, a Tony Award-nominated stage version that Chicago Theatre Review called “a glitzy, glamorous homage” that “offers up a flood of entertainment.”

While enjoying my Saturday afternoon at the Timber Lake Playhouse, I believe I realized what the “steel” means in the theatre’s latest production – playwright Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias. Based on Harling’s own personal life experience and the death of his sister, this show has many poignant moments, involving both laughter and tears, as we take a look inside the lives of six eccentric, delicate, but tough-as-steel Southern women in northwest Louisiana.

The roots of the play The 39 Steps were in a 1915 magazine serial by Scottish novelist John Buchan, which became a popular novel, which spawned four more books about its protagonist. It was adapted for film three times, notably (and to great acclaim) by Alfred Hitchcock, and once for television. The first version of the play, written by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon and billed as a "parody," toured in 1995. Patrick Barlow consequently rewrote their script, premiering his adaptation in London in 2005. His version hopped the pond to become a long-running Broadway smash, nominated for six Tonys in 2008 (including Best Play) and winning two. This month, more than 100 years later, a form of Buchan's story is playing live at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre. And I highly recommend you see this ingeniously staged, well-performed lark of a show.

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