I always like rooting for the underdog, and Saturday’s matinée performance of Disney’s Newsies: The Musical at the Timber Lake Playhouse is a David-versus-Goliath story full of vibrant and energetic dancing, coupled with excellent singing, as the cast of 27 took on this delightful Broadway smash. I especially enjoyed the scenic design by David Goldstein – an expanded set of rusty steel bars that were constructed into high platforms and stairs, reminding me of Elvis Presley's Jailhouse Rock set.

The Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's Singin' in the Rain will have you laughin' at clouds, no matter how dark the weather. The 1983 musical is based on the beloved 1952 film, with its screenplay (and the musical's book) by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed writing music and lyrics for most of its tunes, many of which are borrowed from 1920s and 1930s films (by MGM, natch, which concocted this film). Thus, the show is in many ways a jukebox musical, and Circa '21's production uses the 2012 revival's script, which is a pared-down and shuffled version of the original.

While enjoying my Saturday afternoon at the Timber Lake Playhouse, I believe I realized what the “steel” means in the theatre’s latest production – playwright Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias. Based on Harling’s own personal life experience and the death of his sister, this show has many poignant moments, involving both laughter and tears, as we take a look inside the lives of six eccentric, delicate, but tough-as-steel Southern women in northwest Louisiana.

The roots of the play The 39 Steps were in a 1915 magazine serial by Scottish novelist John Buchan, which became a popular novel, which spawned four more books about its protagonist. It was adapted for film three times, notably (and to great acclaim) by Alfred Hitchcock, and once for television. The first version of the play, written by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon and billed as a "parody," toured in 1995. Patrick Barlow consequently rewrote their script, premiering his adaptation in London in 2005. His version hopped the pond to become a long-running Broadway smash, nominated for six Tonys in 2008 (including Best Play) and winning two. This month, more than 100 years later, a form of Buchan's story is playing live at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre. And I highly recommend you see this ingeniously staged, well-performed lark of a show.

The Clinton Area Showboat Theatre's Shout! The Mod Musical played to a full boat on Friday. The performances were exhilarating, and the winning score was comprised of 1960s hits. However, the script made that of Mamma Mia! seem Oscar Wildean. Well, you can't have everything. And what you do have here is substantially entertaining.

Who doesn't like a singing and dancing nun? Because everyone seemed to be delighted at Thursday night's preview of Quad City Music Guild's Sister Act. The evening was filled with comedy and profound contemplation as the habit-wearing sisters praised the Lord in song and dance proclaiming, "It's good to be a nun!"

Assassins, at the Black Box Theatre, is the cheeriest musical about unhappy people who made bad choices that I've ever seen. And prior to Thursday's performance, I didn't know it was literally about those who killed American presidents, or tried to – I just saw "music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim" and said, "I'm in."

It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Literally, in fact, at New Ground Theatre’s production of playwright Micah Schraft's A Dog’s House, when Jock – the dog of Michael (Kyle Taylor) and Eden (Tabitha Oles) – kills the dog new neighbors Robert (Jordan L. Smith) and Nicole (Ashley Hoskins). As Michael and Eden struggle with the moral implications of what to do next, they find out a lot about themselves and their relationship, and Friday's opening-night performance of director Jacque Cohoon’s production was an intimate, emotional experience I wasn’t expecting.

Chivalry is not dead. In fact, in the form of Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote, it's very much alive at the Timber Lake Playhouse in the theatre's latest production: the 1965 Broadway-musical hit Man of La Mancha.

Earlier this week, the Educational Theatre Association released its annual “10 Most-Produced High School Plays” list. She Kills Monsters, by Qui Nguyen, is number seven. And other than having plans to see Tuesday’s dress rehearsal at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre, I honestly hadn’t even heard of the play before – but now, after seeing it, understand why it’s such a popular choice.

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