Touring the country with messages of equality, tolerance, and unity delivered with eye-popping theatrical flourish, the stage talents of Mexico Beyond Mariachi bring their presentation Trekking Mexico to St. Ambrose University on February 22, the final, family-themed engagement in the group's week-long residency as Quad City Arts Visiting Artists.

The Playcrafters Barn Theatre's presentation of The Boxcar Children opened on Friday with a simple, wholesome journey of four Depression-era youngsters and their adventures as recent orphans. Knowing that they will likely go to different foster homes, the Alden children escape into the woods and find a boxcar in which they begin to live, and while the set design was sparse, the actors, for the most part, were excellent – I found myself carefully listening to each character as they expressed their innermost thoughts and feelings. Like the old saying goes, "Less is more," and in this show, I found that to be particularly true.

Lauded by Theatre Mania as a “mean and marvelous” play that “has more surprises than a case full of Cracker Jack boxes,” author Neil LaBute's biting and evocative drama The Shape of Things serves as the latest student production in St. Ambrose University's Black Box Theatre, its February 13 through 15 run signifying why CurtainUp deemed it a “must-see” that “leaves the audience with much to talk about.”

A hilarious off-Broadway hit for Tony Award winner Julie White, playwright Theresa Rebeck's one-woman comedy Bad Dates enjoys a local staging as the debut presentation by area company One-Off Theatrical Productions, its February 13 through 16 run at Davenport's QC Theatre Workshop sure to prove why the New York Times raved that “Rebeck’s easy control of her craft allows her to overlay this simple comic conceit with a richly detailed character study.”

Nominated for five 2006 Tony Awards including Best Musical and described as a “fizzy confection” by Variety magazine, the musical version of Adam Sandler's film-comedy smash The Wedding Singer enjoys a local run at Moline's Spotlight Theatre February 14 through 23, with composer Matthew Sklar and lyricist Chad Beguelin praised by New York Theatre Guide for their 1980s salute and its “truly clever and often hilarious score.”

Based on the beloved series of children's books originally created by author Gertrude Chandler Warner – a series that began in 1924 and boasts well over 150 titles – the family adventure The Boxcar Children serves as the first stage presentation in the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's 2020 season, a heartwarming entertainment that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel praised for “the chance to identify and appreciate the strength, and the good, that we're all capable of demonstrating in times of crisis.”

There was a moment during Friday’s conclusion to the Black Box Theatre’s latest production, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, in which one of the child actors realized the artwork he was holding was upside down, so he turned it around. A seemingly small action, but an absolutely honest one. Children often set out to right the wrongs they see in the world, and while I’m certain director Lora Adams didn’t plan this incident, that tiny gesture drove home the reality of the night’s story for me. Even in a place full of horror, children continue to learn, grow, and create beauty, because that’s what children do.

With a rather evocative title such as Kinky Boots, you may find yourself a tad wary of the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's latest production. But bring that wariness in and let director M. Seth Reines and his talented cast broaden your scope. Kinky Boots, you see, is an exciting, engaging story for everyone and about everyone.

Described by Broadway Baby as “an emotional, hard-hitting study of innocence lost and the survival of hope in even the most hellish conditions,” author Celeset Raspanti's haunting, moving, and uplifting I Never Saw Another Butterfly serves as the season-opening stage presentation at Moline's Black Box Theatre, its January 24 through February 1 run showcasing the works of art and poetry created by Jewish children who lived in the concentration camp Theresienstadt.

Lauded by Time Out New York for its “infectiously energetic 1960s tunes” and by The New Yorker for its “well-judged humor and elegant strokes of observation,” the Broadway-musical smash Jersey Boys hits Davenport's Adler Theatre on January 14 as the latest presentation in the Broadway at the Adler series – a jukebox revue that, according to Broadway World, “rousingly recreates the catchy songs, convoluted lives, and roller-coaster careers of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.”