Lauded by the New York Times as a “breakthrough musical” that's “savvy, sassy, and eminently likable,” Broadway's puppet-filled smash Avenue Q brings hilarity, unforgettable songs, and loads of sweetly filthy material to Moline's Playcrafters Barn Theatre May 10 through 19, its blend of modern snark and old-fashioned charm described by The New Yorker as “an ingenious combination of The Real World and Sesame Street.”

I’ve got to hand it to director Kimberly Kurtenbach, who expertly captured every child’s attention before last Thursday’s performance of the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook by blasting the ever-popular Baby Shark. When the dance party was cut off for pre-show announcements, the room full of smiling children was already fully engaged and ready to be wowed.

I saw Augustana College's exhilarating April 27 production of the musical How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying – the 1961 show that was adapted for film in 1967, and that won seven Tonys, boasts a script by Abe Burrows, Jake Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert and music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, and is based on the book by Shepherd Mead. When you see it, arrive early, so you have time to gaze properly at RaeEllen Walker's dazzling, Art Deco-inspired set with its white floor and black "marble" inlay, turquoise columns, and gold-trimmed black mezzanine and stairs.

Praised by the Chicago Tribune for its “warmhearted wit leavened with wistful regret” and “inner light of emotional honesty,” playwright Lauren Gunderson's astronomical drama Silent Sky enjoys its area premiere at Moline's Black Box Theatre May 2 through 12 – a work that, according to the Tribune, “shines with the luminous joy of re-centering women whose achievements have been too long overlooked by the telescope of history.”

With Variety magazine praising its “imaginative flair” and the Huffington Post calling the show “beautiful and wondrous” and “pure bliss,” the new stage musical Finding Neverland brings the joys of J.M. Barrie and Peter Pan to Davenport's Adler Theatre on May 7 – a touring production in the Broadway at the Adler series that Time magazine deemed “a spirited, tuneful, nimbly staged delight.”

One of children's literature's most beloved tales enjoys a world-premiere QC Theatre Workshop presentation May 3 through 19, with the Davenport venue housing a debuting stage adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's literary classic The Little Prince – a family-themed presentation incorporating comedy, music, dance, and puppetry written by the company's Artistic Director Aaron Randolph III.

A legitimate musical-theatre classic that won both the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying wraps up Augustana College's 2018-19 mainstage theatre season from April 26 through May 5, treating audiences to a joyously biting, tune-filled delight that the New York Times called “crafty, conniving, sneaky, cynical, irreverent, impertinent, sly, malicious, and lovely – just lovely.”

Don’t let the title of the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's Grumpy Old Men: The Musical fool you. I was expecting much yelling at young-'uns and kvetching over chessboards. It’s actually a colorful, fast-paced feast containing no young-'uns (but, yes, one chessboard).

I had the pleasure of attending Wednesday night's rehearsal of Marie & Rosetta at Moline's Playcrafters Barn Theatre, and it was so refreshing to experience a true gospel music production.

With DC Theatre Scene calling the show “a wonderfully fun production” that's “clever enough to charm all ages,” Rock Island's Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse opens its 2016 season of high-spirited family musicals with Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook, an adaptation of Barbara Park's beloved children's book that the Maryland Theatre Guide described as “almost too much fun to be as heartfelt as it is.”

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