Within the first nine minutes of Sara Tubbs’ solo directorial debut of Matilda: The Musical at the Spotlight Theatre, Friday's opening-night audience was clued into two things about the production: (1) The microphones had some issues, and (2) it almost didn’t matter, because of how much passion and energy this cast of 34 brought to the stage.

The Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse Bootleggers have a cult following of enthusiastic fans that are very passionate about, and dedicated to, these talented performers who also double as the theatre's efficient wait staff, and Thursday's opening-night presentation of the group's mainstage show The Best of the Bootleggers certainly did not disappoint. There was a lot of clapping and singing along as 12 of the most talented Booties I've ever seen delivered a variety of musical numbers that left our audience longing for more.

Winner of five Tony Awards and one of the most memorable, iconic, and popular musicals of the last several decades, legendary composer Stephen Sondheim's Assassins hits the stage at Moline's Black Box Theatre August 8 through 18, its twisty, tuneful tale of famed and obscure killers (and would-be killers) lauded by the New York Times for its “astonishing score” in which “sly distortions of familiar musical tropes approximate the skewed ways in which these characters hear everyday melodies.”

Nominated for five 2011 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and based on the beloved film comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg, the tuneful and riotous Sister Act wraps up Quad City Music Guild's 2019 summer season, the show's August 9 through 18 run demonstrating why the Associated Press deemed it “frothy, giggly, and yet often poignant,” as well as “a musical that hits all the right spots, achieving something close to Broadway grace.”

"She Kills Monsters" at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre -- August 9 through 11.

Described by the Chicago Tribune as “clever, funny, moving, lively, and geeky,” and filled with what Time Out Chicago called “deliciously dorky references to the early days of the Internet,” the Dungeons & Dragons-fueled comedy-drama She Kills Monsters serves as the latest production in the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's Barn Owl Series, its August 9 through 11 run guaranteed, according to the New York Times, to “slash and shapeshift its way into your heart.”

Praised by the Los Angeles Times for its “hip, snappy dialogue and contemporary sensibilities,” as well as being an “engaging play [that] explores the reality checks that force lovers to look past their romantic illusions,” Micah Schraft's A Dog's House enjoys a New Ground Theatre staging August 9 through 18, with Broadway World lauding the author's “witty, intelligent, entertainingly thought-provoking script.”

Madness. It was madness how much fun I had at the July 25 preview performance of the interactive mystery comedy Shear Madness at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse.

I was in Friday's opening-night audience for the Mississippi Bend Players' Dames at Sea. George Haimsohn and Robin Miller wrote the 1966 piece's book and lyrics, with music by Jim Wise, and as Augustana College's Brunner Theatre lobby display notes, it's a spoof of the films Gold Diggers of 1933, Footlight Parade, and 42nd Street. The old show-biz tropes it sends up are easy targets, and the tunes are imitative (naturally), but vastly enjoyable. As for the script, it's just one giant, cheerful wink in which continuity and plausibility are irrelevant. Show people playing show people putting on a show is a sea of fun to begin with, and the plot merely dips a toe in the water now and then, leaving the singing and dancing to make the big splash – which, here, they do.

From Payton Brasher’s brooding Stage Manager soliloquy kicking off the evening to the concluding chase sequence set to music, Genesius Guild’s Ecclesiazusae doesn’t take itself too seriously. And yet this comedic production, originally written by Greek playwright Aristophanes in 391 BC and updated here by Don Wooten, still manages to make a statement appropriate for 2019.

There's a British invasion going on at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, and Friday's performance of The Who's Tommy was in your face, intense, and powerful, a rock opera that cranked up the volume on the phenomenal music of one of the most influential groups of the 20th century: English rock band The Who.