Thursday, July 30, 2015


Posted July 29, 2015in Center Stage

Dirty angels kicking ass

For “Rent” the staging is in-the-round. Inside the entrance, designer Tim Wisgherof set up a riser for the guitar, keyboard, drums and bass. The musicians riff and tootle, pumping up the energy even as you find your seat. So, too, at show’s end, while the heroine Mimi languishes near death,

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Posted July 22, 2015in Center Stage

Minor Monty, with wicked gleams

Imagine you’re Eric Idle, founding member of Monty Python, and a Broadway producer comes calling with a bucket of money. All that long green can be yours, providing you whip up a musical out of your hit movie from 1975, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Well, Eric? So what

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Posted July 15, 2015in Center Stage

A wardrobe of hard-earned wisdom

The company calls itself Rising Phoenix, and its latest show makes you think of the myth — the bird consumed by fire and then rising from the ashes, more beautiful than before. Founded in 2011, the next year Phoenix mounted a solid run-through of Nora Ephron’s “Love, Loss, and What

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Posted July 08, 2015in Center Stage

Classic, feisty and huge

“We do have a pumpkin that turns into a carriage,” says Antoine Smith. “We have a glass slipper and things you’re sure to recognize.” Still, he goes on: “This is nothing like the Disney cartoon.” Instead, the “Cinderella” coming to the Civic Center has a distinguished Broadway pedigree. Composers Richard

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Posted July 01, 2015in Center Stage

Taking off into a new sky

“The Abduction from the Seraglio,” at Des Moines Metro Opera (DMMO), opened its third act under moonlight. The noble Belmonte lurks in the dark, intending to free his beloved Konstanze from the Pasha’s seraglio: his harem. Mozart’s hero wears a neon-purple frockcoat, and this glows mystically under a sky full

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Posted June 24, 2015in Center Stage

Exotic and erupting with beauty

For one show this year, Des Moines Metro Opera brought in a woman from the Czech Embassy in Chicago. She spent a week teaching the cast her language. For another, performers learned to juggle opera Italian and cowboy lingo: “Howdy, ragazzi!” And for the third, by Mozart, the design team

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Posted June 17, 2015in Center Stage

The penguins sing and dance

In Winterset, the evening I saw “Nunsense,” they had a Classic Car invitational in the square. A cherry 1940s Mercury sat next to a sleek ’60s Mustang. Such wheels are impractical, of course — think of the gas mileage — but they make scrumptious eye candy. I got my fill,

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Posted June 10, 2015in Center Stage

Shakespeare does spring break

Allow me a nerd moment. Back in Shakespeare’s day, we nerds know, “nothing” had a double meaning. Pronounced “not-ting,” it referred either to nothing, as it does today, or to gossip. So the fun starts in the very title of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” It’s more than a cliché.

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Posted June 03, 2015in Center Stage

Canny mischief, cartoon murder

Only a rare theater scene offers a gem like this for free. “The Real Inspector Hound” charges no admission as part of the Fine Arts Series at Westminster Presbyterian. Nonetheless it maintains the standard set this winter with “The Mountaintop,” a haunting meditation on Martin Luther King Jr. “Inspector Hound,”

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Posted May 27, 2015in Center Stage

Ghosts, ghouls and puppy love

At a recent rehearsal for “The Addams Family,” the stage manager started things off with a weird warning. “Some of you,” he said, “have got to watch out for those dangling chains.” Ah, Addams Mansion, with its clanking chains and groaning ghosts. The set, by Alan Reynolds, will of course

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