Playcrafters Barn Theatre
Friday, January 13, through Sunday, January 22
Most theatre patrons don’t need a good reason to see Steel Magnolias, as author Robert Harling’s six-woman dramedy set in a Southern beauty parlor has been a beloved staple of professional, community, and educational theatres for more than a quarter-century. But Donna Weeks, who directs the Playcrafters Barn Theatre’s January 13 through 22 presentation of the play, certainly had a good reason to want to direct it, given that like Steel Magnolias’ ingénue Shelby, Weeks herself has spent most of her life with type-1 diabetes.
“We knew it would be a good fit and we hadn’t done it for a while,” says Weeks of submitting the title for inclusion in 2017’s Playcrafters season, “and it’s a crowd-pleaser. I’ve always liked it – the movie and the show. But I’ve always been irritated by the scene at the beginning where Shelby has the low-blood-sugar attack. Part of me was like, ‘Oh, I just wanna get ahold of that show so just once it can be done right.’”
As someone who has lived with diabetes since the age of nine, Weeks says that she’s been frequently troubled by Shelby’s attack “happening so fast. And then she comes out of it so fast. I mean, I understand that you have to move a show along, but it always bugged me.
“So Leslie Munson – the actress who plays Shelby – and I have had quite a few discussions about symptoms and recovery. How it [an attack] can sometimes feel like an adrenaline rush and sneak up on you, or how you can feel in advance that one’s coming on – like, ‘Uh oh ... how the hell do I get some sugar?’”
In Playcrafters’ Steel Magnolias, says Weeks, “Shelby starts to exude a few symptoms early, and I don’t know that they’re going to be things than an audience necessarily picks up on unless they’re watching her very carefully. But it’s all in how she holds herself. As she’s getting her hair done, her posture in the chair changes. She goes from sitting up straight with her legs crossed to kind of holding on to the chair for dear life, and her speech changes ever so slightly – it’s a really gradual progression.”
Weeks’ desire to present a truthful representation of diabetes’ effects in Steel Magnolias is made more moving by the director’s own current struggles with the disease: She’s on, as Weeks says, “the waiting line to be on the waiting list for a new kidney,” and is scheduled to potentially begin dialysis in the days between her show’s weekend performances.
“It’s kind of odd, because I’m fairly private about my life,” says Weeks. “And it’s been a full year since the first test results that were ... scary. So it’s been good to have a group of people that I can share things with. I mean, it’s a pretty emotional show no matter what, so to have these women to talk to and laugh with ... . You can either be sad and wallow in it, or you can make jokes. And either way, it’s good to have a place where I can be open about it.”
But Weeks is quick to say that in addition to wanting to present the honesty of diabetes with Steel Magnolias, she was also eager to direct the show “for the opportunity to cast Patti Flaherty as Ouiser,” Steel Magnolias’ saltiest, most comically cantankerous figure. “I was like, ‘She’d better show up for auditions! She’d better show up for auditions!’”
She did, and was eventually cast in an ensemble also featuring Jackie Patterson, Chris Sanders-Ring, Jaclyn Marta, and Susan Perrin-Sallak, the latter of whom played opposite Flaherty – with the duo as a pair of sweetly murderous spinsters – in Weeks’ 2016 Playcrafters production of Arsenic & Old Lace. Says Weeks with a laugh,“I keep saying I’d pay $13 just to listen to those two bitch at each other for two hours.”
Steel Magnolias runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m., and more information and tickets are available by calling (309)762-0330 or visiting Playcrafters.com.
Rock Island Brewing Company
Friday, January 6, 9 p.m.
A couple years ago, touring musician Demun Jones left Rehab, and on January 6 you can find him in a bar. Trust me, though: That information is nowhere near as grim as I’m making it out to be.
For one thing, the referenced Rehab isn’t a facility, but rather the popular Southern-rock and alternative-hop-hop band that Jones was a member of for 10 years, and that wrapped up its farewell tour in 2014. And for another, the referenced bar is the Rock Island Brewing Company, where singer/songwriter Jones will perform rap, rock, country, and more from his solo albums Jones County and 2016’s #Beast. Judging by the reviews the artist has amassed, #Best might have been similarly appropriate.
The Georgia native was born David Jones yet, according to his DemunJones.com biography, was nicknamed “Demun” from a young age “because he was aggressive and energetic.” As fans know, you could certainly also apply those adjectives to Rehab’s discography, with the group’s seven albums yielding such hits as “It Don’t Matter,” “Welcome Home,” and “Bartender Song (Sittin’ at a Bar).”
Those sitting at RIBCO’s bar, meanwhile, will find Jones’ January 6 solo set boasting the same aggressive energy the artist brought to Rehab, with his songs displaying a distinctly personal drive that, according to SofaKingNews.net, results in music “that gives you a one-two combo to the neck and leaves your whole body shaking.”
Given that, as a youth, his brother got Jones into Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, his uncles introduced him to the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and his mother played lots of Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson, it makes sense that the musician delivers such variety in his own output, with #Beast finding room for a rap/rock anthem (“Highway in My Blood”), a dance-club number (“Bronco”), and even a tender ode to family (“So Wonderful”).
Given Jones’ talents and exhilarating live performances, it’s equally unsurprising that fans and music critics have responded with such enthusiasm. FullRedneck.com raves about his “innovative blend of backwoods music and rap anthems.” HickHopMusic.com states, “Demun Jones’ technicals are superb, his flow is on point throughout, and the lyrics are emotional and authentic.” And TheFrontRowReport.com calls Jones “one of the strongest rappers in the game right now,” adding that his tunes are “perfect for the party – smoking that joint or cruising down the highway.” Not, we should stress, at the same time. That route leads to actual rehab.
Demun Jones performs locally with an opening set by Zach Zurcher, and more information on the night is available by calling (309)793-1999 or visiting RIBCO.com.
Ghost: The Musical
Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse
Wednesday, January 11, through Saturday, March 11
“Hey there, Molly.”
“Sam! It’s so good to ... ! Wait. You are Sam, aren’t you?”
“Oh, I’m so glad! I’ve missed you!”
“I’ve missed you, too, Molly. I want to take you to dinner and a show tonight. The Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse is presenting the area debut of Ghost: The Musical. It’s the stage version of 1990’s movie smash Ghost – the romantic comedy/drama based on our lives.”
“That sounds wonderful! Does the theatrical version follow the plot of the movie?”
“It sure does. It tells of how you and I were madly in love and moving into our new apartment and you were deep into sculpting ... .”
“I’ll always remember that pottery wheel.”
“Everyone will. And then it shows how that ... unpleasantness ... caused me to become an unseen spirit and warn you of earthly dangers with the help of our psychic friend and that weirdo from the subway ... .”
“I never did get to see him in person.”
“And now you can! Circa ’21’s production brings back all of the movie’s familiar characters and situations – even the Righteous Brothers’ ‘Unchained Melody’ scene – but adds beautiful music and original songs by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, with the movie’s Oscar-winning screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin providing the book and lyrics.”
“Ghost: The Musical was nominated for three Tony Awards, right?”
“It was, and the show received a bunch of terrific reviews, with TalkinBroadway.com calling it ‘one of the finest film-to-stage adaptations in recent memory.’ Circa ’21’s production will be directed by Jerry Jay Cranford, who previously staged the venue’s marvelous presentation of Les Misérables, and its cast features such recognizable Circa talents as Million Dollar Quartet’s Paige Salter, Sister Act star Antoinette Holman, and Don Denton, who played Jean Valjean in that 2015 Les Mis.”
“I can’t wait! But let me ask ... can it just be you and me on our Ghost: The Musical date? Or are you going to have to be there through Oda Mae Brown the way you are now?”
“Ummm ... . Well, ya know ... I kinda have to have Oda Mae with us ... .”
“Fine. I just think it’s a drag to pay for three tickets every time we go to the theatre.”
Ghost: The Musical runs at the Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse from January 13 through March 11, with preview performances held on January 11 and 12, and more information and tickets are available by calling (309)786-7733 extension 2 or visiting Circa21.com.
What Else Is Happenin’ …?
Friday, January 6 – Cereus Bright. Tennessee-based folk-rock musicians perform the RME Member Appreciation Show. The Redstone Room (129 Main Street, Davenport). 8 p.m. $10, free for members. For tickets and information, call (563)326-1333 or visit RiverMusicExperience.org.
Thursday, January 12 – The Last Revel. Concert with the Americana and rockabilly musicians, with an opening set by Miles Over Mountains. The Redstone Room (129 Main Street, Davenport). 8 p.m. $9.50-10. For tickets and information, call (563)326-1333 or visit RiverMusicExperience.org.
Friday, January 13 – Trippin’ Billies. The Dave Matthews Band tribute act in concert, featuring an opening set by Randy Leasman. Rock Island Brewing Company (1815 Second Avenue, Rock Island). 9 p.m. For information, call (309)793-1999 or visit RIBCO.com.
Friday, January 13 – Support Our Sister: Memphis Send-Off. Fundraiser for the Juliana & a Soul Purpose musicians representing Iowa at the 2017 International Blues Challenge Youth Showcase, with performances by the Lizzi Neal Band, Frankie Fontagne & the Ramblers, and others. The Redstone Room (129 Main Street, Davenport). 6 p.m. $11.50-17. For tickets and information, call (563)326-1333 or visit RiverMusicExperience.org.
Saturday, January 14 – Local H. Concert with the rock and grunge musicians, featuring an opening set by Mutts. Rock Island Brewing Company (1815 Second Avenue, Rock Island). 9 p.m. For information, call (309)793-1999 or visit RIBCO.com.
Sunday, January 15 – Tom Marko & the Inner Light Band. Illinois-based jazz musicians perform in Polyrhythms’ Third Sunday Jazz Series. The Redstone Room (129 Main Street, Davenport). 3 p.m. jazz workshop (free for students, $5 for adults), 6 p.m. concert ($10-15). For tickets and information, call (309)373-0790 or visit Polyrhythms.org or RiverMusicExperience.org.
Sunday, January 15 – The Westbrook Singers. Concert celebrating the opening of the new venue with East Moline gospel musicians Gary Westbrook and his sisters Cynthia Westbrook-Bryson, Delores Westbrook-Tingle, and Joyce Westbrook-Lee. The Black Box Theatre (1623 Fifth Avenue, Moline). 4:30 p.m. For information, call (309)738-2540 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, January 7 – The Original Harlem Globetrotters. Basketball wizardry and comedy with the internationally touring sports superstars. iWireless Center (1201 River Drive, Moline). 4 p.m. $21-117. For tickets, call (800)745-3000 or visit iWirelessCenter.com.
Wednesday, January 11 – Oona Stern & Cheryl Leonard. A musical soundscape and presentation held in conjunction with the Augustana College Teaching Museum of Art exhibit Art Above 66º 33'. Augustana College’s Wallenberg Hall (3520 Seventh Avenue, Rock Island). 7 p.m. Free. For information, call (309)794-7400 or visit Augustana.edu/arts/art-museum.
Saturday, January 14, through Sunday, April 23 - 19th & 20th Century Japanese Prints. Exhibition featuring 15 prints by preeminent Japanese artists of the 19th and 20th centuries recently gifted to the museum from the Robert F. & Patricia J. Schmitt Collection. Figge Art Museum (225 West Second Street, Davenport). Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m. Free with $4-7 museum admission. For information, call (563)326-7804 or visit FiggeArtMuseum.org.
Wednesday, January 18 – Guerrilla Girls. Presentation with two members of the gorilla-mask-wearing, feminist-artist collective. Augustana College’s Centennial Hall (3703 Seventh Avenue, Rock Island). 7 p.m. Free. For information, call (309)794-7400 or visit Augustana.edu/arts/art-museum.
Friday, January 6, through Sunday, January 8 – Bald Eagle Days. Fiftieth-annual weekend event featuring seminars, presentations, bald-eagle watches, and more. QCCA Expo Center (2621 Fourth Avenue, Rock Island). Friday 4-8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $1-6. For information, call (309)788-5912 or visit QCCAExpoCenter.com.
Saturday, January 7 – Wedding Max Bridal Show. The latest in wedding dresses, items, accessories, and more in the 14th-annual event. iWireless Center (1201 River Drive, Moline). 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. $5-10. For information, call (309)797-9889 or visit WeddingMaxBridalShow.net or iWirelessCenter.com.
Saturday, January 14 – Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. Annual community celebration, awards presentation, and musical tribute in honor of the late civil-rights activist. Augustana College’s Centennial Hall (3703 Seventh Avenue, Rock Island). 6 p.m. Free. For information, call (309)794-7323 or visit Augustana.edu/arts.
Saturday, January 14 - Icestravaganza. Fifth-annual event featuring interactive ice sculptures, outdoor and indoor kids’ activities, ice princess guests, an after-hours tasting event, and more. Freight House (421 West River Drive, Davenport). 11:30 a.m. family event, 6 p.m. adult tasting event. For information, visit DowntownDavenport.com.
Sunday, January 15, through Tuesday, January 17 – QC Farm & Equipment Show. Annual event featuring seminars and vendors from more than 200 ag companies. QCCA Expo Center (2621 Fourth Avenue, Rock Island). Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. For information, call (309)788-5912 or visit QCCAExpoCenter.com.