With bright, rainbow wardrobes and electric intensity, the 12-person Opera @ Augustana ensemble of Godspell resembled a contemporary (and Christian) version of Hair. The vibrant student actors last weekend filled Wallenberg Hall at Augustana College with the spirit of music and tromped about the stage praising God and engaging hundreds of audience members with optimistic songs.

With The Primitive opening this weekend, New Ground Theatre is doing something it's never tried before, and director Chris Jansen is very excited. The Primitive "is a charming romantic comedy!" she said.

When Zach Pethoud read the script of The Guys by Anne Nelson, he decided it was an opportunity he couldn't turn down. "I knew right away that if I didn't direct it locally, someone else would," he said. So the Bettendorf native gathered a cast, secured the Bettendorf High School auditorium stage, and worked hard to put together the Quad Cities premiere of the play, which will be presented weekends from December 6 to 14.

Galileo Galilei was a big man who loved eating. Oh yeah, and he's also credited with inventing the telescope and proving the earth rotates around the sun (not vice-versa), and he's considered one of the scientific geniuses of the Renaissance.

Most people hated the Interstate 74 bridge construction, but theatre actress and director Melissa McBain loved it. Being stuck on the bridge gave her an opportunity to chat regularly with journalist and author Stephen G. Bloom about Shoedog, the play he co-wrote. The piece will get its world premiere this weekend with three performances at Quad City Arts, with McBain directing.

What is truth? This is an age-old question, pondered by millions of people over the centuries. According to the story of Rashomon, truth lies in the eye of the beholder. As the wigmaker in the story says, "People see what they want to see, and say what they want to hear." Unlike many other treatments of the question of truth, Rashomon does not expose truth as absolute; it explores truth as a constantly shifting abstract idea, based solely on the perceptions of humans.

After seeing Riverside Theatre's annual monologue performance Walking the Wire during its three-day run last weekend, I'm already looking forward to next year. Rarely is a collection of monologues presented locally (with the exception of the woman-power fundraiser The Vagina Monologues, which is structured more like a play), and the Iowa City theatre's Wire provides a unique opportunity for viewers to absorb an assortment of unpublished works presented by diverse individuals. While a few of the pieces were lacking in either character believability or author voice, most of the two- to 10-minute monologues were very engaging.

Riverside Theatre's production of Noel Coward's relationship-centered play Private Lives is such a captivating romp through France in the 1920s, and there were moments I was so happily lost in the action, that I never wanted to return to contemporary Iowa City.

I don't like to start reviews with questions, but New Ground Theatre's current production of Lobby Hero raises some interesting ones. (1) Is a hero someone who, when faced with a moral dilemma, reveals deep dark secrets that will get a friend in big trouble? 2) Does sliding indifferently through life without ever changing viewpoints, challenging ideas, or standing up for personal rights gain someone hero status? The answer to both, obviously, is no. A hero is defined by my dictionary as "a man of great courage, nobility, etc. or one admired for his exploits." So what was playwright Kenneth Lonergan thinking when he used a lazy, noncommittal lobby security guard as a protagonist of his play Lobby Hero?

Melissa Coulter was thrilled when she was asked to direct a show at Ghostlight Theatre. What she didn't yet know was that the show, Das Barbecü, is actually a musical comedy loosely based on Richard Wagner's four-hour Ring opera, is performed in country-western style, and calls for a fairly large cast of about 15 people.

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