Concluding their 2018 season with a world premiere at Augustana College, the Mississippi Bend Players will, from August 3 through 12, stage a collaboration between an Emmy-nominated writer/producer and a Broadway-veteran director: the pitfalls-of-show-business comedy Beginner's Luck, written by noted sitcom scribe P.J. Lasker (The Golden Girls, Barney Miller) and directed by the Great White Way's Philip Wm. McKinley (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, The Boy from Oz).

I grew up listening to ABBA's Gold: Greatest Hits (thanks, Mom!), so I felt right at home at Friday’s opening-night performance of Mamma Mia! at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse. But loving the iconic ABBA is not a prerequisite to enjoying director/choreographer Michael Matthew Ferrell’s fun-filled production.

Does a wild hellhound prowl the moors of Devonshire? Leave it to the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes (Alex Rudd) and his distinguished assistant Dr. Watson (Max Bahneman) to solve this legendary case of an alleged curse in Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery at the Timber Lake Playhouse. In a totally marvelous theatrical display of talent and special effects, Saturday’s matinée performance was one of the best non-musical productions I’ve seen in a long time.

Verbal comedy, physical slapstick, madcap chases, and a bunch of pop-culture and area-culture references will close 2018's theatrical season in Lincoln Park when Genesius Guild stages its revival of Thesmophoriazusae July 28 through August 5, Aristophanes' Greek-comedy classic getting a significant makeover with a new script, and new jokes, by Guild founder Don Wooten.

The winner of England's Evening Standard Award for Best Play and a work described as “stunning” by the New York Times, playwright Caryl Churchill's provocative cloning drama A Number will be staged locally July 27 and 28, this latest production in the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's Barn Owl Series described by the Daily Telegraph as “moving, thought-provoking, and thrilling.”

A real-life confession: I typically spend Sunday evenings at home watching Netflix, so spending it in Lincoln Park with Genesius Guild's production of The Merchant of Venice was a refreshing change. While it is known as one of William Shakespeare’s “problem plays,” and I would agree with that assessment, this performance was still a great way to forget thinking about Monday.

A disappearing body, missing evidence, blood on a chair, and a pursuing investigation – so goes the spirited comedy BusyBody, written by Jack Popplewell and directed by Joe DePauw. Sunday’s matinée performance at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre was rife with lively slapstick and subtle humor, taking us into the world of Mrs. Piper (Jackie Skiles), a spunky office cleaning lady who has stumbled her way into a murder mystery.

It’s not often that I walk away from a show thinking about who I am as a person and how I can do better. Yet that is exactly what happened Friday night after the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's production of Clybourne Park, and director Alexander Richardson should be proud of his thought-provoking, darkly comedic production that demands more of its audience than the usual area-stage fare.

As the wind blew and the rain poured, I was concerned about making it to the current play at Augustana College's Brunner Theatre Center without being swept away by the currents of water flooding the streets of Rock Island. Thankfully, though – and with added thanks to Cart to the Art driver John D'Aversa – even a severe thunderstorm couldn't keep me from the Mississippi Bend Players' opening-night production of The Glass Menagerie.

The first thing I noticed as I walked into Thursday's stunning, powerful, opening-night performance of the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre's Cabaret was the temperature. As I glanced around looking for meat hooks, I realized that many of the theatre's more seasoned attendees had brought along sweaters, coats, and even blankets. But the chill in the air gave no indication of the show's eventual heat.

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