When people are asked what they think of when thinking about Iowa, they mention the following in no particular order: corn, Grant Wood, corn, Field of Dreams, corn, Hawkeyes, corn, Bruce … um … Caitlyn Jenner, corn, pork, corn , and the final answer – Meredith Willson. A famous son from Mason City, Willson is best known for writing and composing the uniquely American musical-theatre classic The Music Man.

Within this review, be prepared to read the gushings of a 33-year-old man re-living a childhood story he has not experienced in probably 15 years. In re-living it, after a decade-plus of growing, there's also some disappointment in struggling to r...

It's 86 degrees on a humid Saturday evening in June, and sitting in Rock Island's Lincoln Park, it's easy to reflect upon a gold and pink summer sun setting in the west. To the south, the lights have just clicked on the basketball courts as a neighborhood pick-up game is in full swing. To the north, a young couple push their giggling toddler on the swings of the playground. And to the east, the lights are dimming on the Italian-Renaissance-inspired structure enveloped in the arms of the giant oaks as another evening of theatre in the park is set to begin.

I love Christopher Durang, and was very much looking forward to his 2013 Tony Award winner Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, currently in production at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre. Durang has been a successful playwright for more than 40 years, and although this comedy is less edgy and absurd than previous plays, and although I felt Durang’s writing went off-track in the second act, Friday’s production provided many laugh-out-loud, wiping-tears-away moments. I have not felt so just-plain-happy being in the theatre in quite a long time.

There was much to love about the Timber Lake Playhouse’s opening-night presentation of Gypsy. But if pressed for a favorite moment in this dynamically entertaining musical, it might’ve been the one in Act II in which a third-rate burlesque show loses its featured stripper, and our protagonist Mama Rose, without apology or shame, volunteers her long-ignored, wallflower daughter Louise for the job. It wasn’t the narrative turn that got me; it was the response of Timber Lake’s audience, who released a collective “Oh no she didn’t!” gasp-and-laugh implying they were legitimately shocked – shocked! – at Rose’s readiness to pimp out her child. Was this crowd somehow under the impression that, despite all previous evidence, Mama was actually not a monster?

The Clinton Area Showboat Theatre is titling its summer schedule of shows “A Season of American Classics,” and it was kicked off on June 2 with The Odd Couple. And what a kickoff it was, as the ensemble cast, directed by Jami Witt, didn’t have a weak player on the team.

On the final episode of the most recent season of FX’s comedy Louie, star Louis C.K.’s alter ego was performing stand-up in Oklahoma City, and forced to share a condo with his opening act, a hack comedian named Kenny. At first, Kenny seemed awful: He drank whiskey in the morning; he gave his barely legal chauffeur sexually explicit advice; his stand-up set was rife with masturbation and fart jokes (which, to Louie’s mortification, positively killed).

Kermit Thomas, Jim Strauss, Don Faust, and Shellie Moore Guy in A Woman Called Truth"Tell your story!" "But who will listen?"

Those opening lines from A Woman Called Truth, now playing at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre, get the audience ready to hear a character's tale. What the audience does not yet get in those opening lines, however, is how very important that story is, and how beautifully it will be told by a diverse and talented cast.

Sometimes I will read a great book, or see a great play, and wait in excited expectation for the author’s next work. That was my feeling when I attended the District Theatre’s May 13 production of A Behanding in Spokane.

Miss Manners dictates that in social settings one should not bring up religion. But can I just say that when I was a shy child of six, seeing a Catholic nun in full habit scared the bejeezus out of me? Nuns were mysterious. You never saw them eat or drink or sweat. Never did I see a nun dance. And they were always worried about the soul. But the nuns in the Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse’s musical comedy Sister Act know soul – as in soul music, sung with such energy that it had me clapping and swaying in my seat. And could those nuns dance! This joyful musical based on the 1992 film was a crowd-pleaser on opening night, and I predict the same for future performances.

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