Ten years ago, almost to the day, I left my Rock Island apartment to make my first acquaintance with Genesius Guild’s annual classical-Greek dramas performed largely in mask, reviewing Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes and Sophocles’ Antigone. This past Saturday, leaving the same apartment, I ventured to Rock Island’s Lincoln Park to review Genesius Guild’s masked-drama presentations of ... Seven Against Thebes and Antigone. So nice to see that so much in my life has changed over the past decade.

After July 5's preview performance of On Golden Pond, it could be confidently asserted that Ernest Thompson's 1979 play was shaping up to be a show that Playcrafters Barn Theatre patrons would love.

I love works that play with time, moving backward and forward through flashbacks and memories. I also love witty British mysteries. And I really love seeing works that succeed on the stage. So it was with high expectations that a friend and I went to see Friday’s production of Checkmate, Leslie Sands’ 1993 murder-mystery currently in production at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre.

Enacted by the delightful, gifted quartet of Michelle Blocker-Rosebrough, Melissa Anderson Clark, Sheri Olsen, and Erin Platt, The Marvelous Wonderettes is Countryside Community Theatre’s intentionally minimalist summertime offering after numerous seasons of grandly scaled, extravagantly cast Broadway hits. As it’s better to go small than go bust, I admire the organization’s decision to downsize. Yet if you know nothing about this undemanding musical, I urge you, in the interest of your time, to avoid the synopsis on its Wikipedia page, which details in 1,576 words what can be effectively distilled to 15: "Four young women sing ’50s songs at their prom, then ’60s songs at their reunion."

An island can conjure different images – a great vacation get-away, a place of isolation, a place with a different culture and different rules – and on July 8, the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre opened South Pacific, Rogers and Hammerstein’s 1949 musical about love, World War II, and overcoming fears on two South Seas islands. One is teeming with military personal and native islanders. The other, Bali Ha’i, is mysterious, inhabited by only islanders, and out of reach by all but a few. Humans are thrown together by war in this paradise of danger, beauty and difference, and the Showboat cast gave this classic a fresh feeling, with iconic songs such as “Some Enchanted Evening,” “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy,” “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta my Hair,” and “There is Nothing Like a Dame” still holding up.

You know those earworms you get when you can’t get a song out of your head no matter how you try? That happened to me several weeks ago after listening to the soundtrack from the Broadway hit Hamilton. My earworms were so intense that I had difficulty falling asleep, and I would elicit strange looks from people in the grocery aisles as I was unknowingly singing “My Shot” out loud. But the cure was found by my attending Quad City Music Guild’s Into the Woods on July 7, and this brilliant send-up, with its quirky, witty songs, wiped out my old earworms without creating new ones.

Being a 33-year-old male, I don’t know that I'm the prime demographic for the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's Menopause: The Musical. But then again, maybe I am. I certainly learned a lot about the “change, change, change,” as they refer to it in the opening number set to the tune of “Chain of Fools,” and at the July 5 preview performance, I witnessed a very polished performance – even if I did find myself asking a lot of questions.

In an appropriate touch for the raucous stage party that is Rock of Ages, its opening-night performance came with cake – a large sheet cake celebrating Artistic Director Jim Beaudry’s 100th production at the Timber Lake Playhouse. It was presented, to his surprise, at the tail end of Beaudry’s pre-show announcements, and the touching tribute by Executive Director Dan Danielowski elicited for its recipient a deserved standing ovation. But there was an added fillip of comedy when Beaudry revealed, to much laughter, that the cake’s photo decoration of him performing in West Side Story was actually from a West Side Story Beaudry did in New York, not Mt. Carroll, making the evening’s prelude funny, thrilling, endearing, and just a little bit awkward – not unlike June 30’s Rock of Ages itself.

Moving into a Victorian brownstone in the heart of New York City would be an adventure in itself, but imagine moving in and finding a full-grown crocodile in the bathroom. This is the start of a series of events in director Andrea Moore's Lyle the Crocodile, the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's latest family musical. Being familiar with author Bernard Waber's 1960s picture books on which this show is based, I feared the production would be too baby-ish for my “sophisticated” eight-year-old granddaughter Ava. But she consented to attend the June 25 performance with me, and afterward we agreed that the story was appealing to both elementary-school-age children and their parents. She did, however, point out that kids may have to know a little about Lyle's time and place (New York City in the 1950s), and about its references to turning crocs into purses and shoes, which she informed me was now illegal.

You’ve probably all heard of the Avengers. You’ve probably not heard of the Revenger's.

The Prenzie Players' production of The Revenger’s Tragedy takes a dark look at ambition, lust, a lover’s vengeance, and the drive to achieve it, and is lacking any real superheroes. Director Matt Moody modernizes this Thomas Middleton play written in the early 1600s mostly with the employment of modern clothing, and although the work is centuries old, a lot of its subject matter, unfortunately, is still relevant today.

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