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.”

Winner of seven 1977 Tony Awards and one of the 25 longest-running musicals in Broadway history, the iconic comic-strip adaptation Annie will be brought to life by the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse November 7 through December 30, demonstrating why the New York Times called the show “an unstoppable sunshine steamroller,” and the Wall Street Journal opined, “Even if you're a child-hating curmudgeon, you'll come home grinning in spite of yourself.”

Hearings. Depositions. Victims. Accusers. Lies. I am not talking about our recent news cycle, but rather Augustana College’s production of The Crucible. When director Jennifer Popple decided to set her show in the unspecific future, she couldn’t possibly have guessed that 2018, without even trying, would give the play such abundant relevance.

It was Sunday, October 30 in 1938 New York, and the country was on edge as Orson Welles went live via Madison Avenue and the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in a Halloween episode hosted by Mercury Theater on the Air. A dramatic, science-fiction radio play, the program caused panic amongst communities who mistook the broadcast for real-life events as alien invaders, described in detail, appeared ready to take over the world.

That's the real-life tale told in the Black Box Theatre's unique production of War of the Worlds: A Radio Play, and while Friday's performance was only about an hour long with no intermission, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Based on the novel by H.G. Wells and adapted from the radio-play script by Howard E. Koch, this singular story directed and designed by Lora Adams is quite different from the theatrical productions I typically attend – and different in a good way.

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