Saturday, February 13, 2016


Posted February 10, 2016in Center Stage, Homepage Cover Story

Bop brought back to life

Who can say how many great songs we lost one Iowa morning in 1959?  That February, the 22-year-old Buddy Holly was just hitting his stride. A phenom out of Texas with a string of catchy originals, he had his first No. 1, “That’ll Be the Day.” But following a gig

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Posted February 03, 2016in Center Stage

Doubling down on caucus comedy

The use of  the house from “American Gothic”  in Tim Wisgerhof’s flexible set for “Caucus: The Musical!” suits the season, doesn’t it? Every four years, the Heartland goes Broadway. But this winter, when the media spotlight gets too bright, Des Moines offers two splendid escapes:  “Caucus!,” a revue by local

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Posted January 27, 2016in Center Stage

The mysteries of life

He dangles upside down from a rope that is suspended from the ceiling. His straightjacket binds him as he hangs just inches from the unsprung teeth of a 1,200-pound bear trap dubbed the “Jaws of Death.” Should the sharp jaws snap shut, it would stab his body in nearly every

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Posted January 20, 2016in Center Stage

Old folks and fresh tension

For an actor like Tyrees Allen, the voice is an orchestra. Playing Hoke, the man who does the driving, he supplies the latest Repertory Theater of Iowa (RTI) production with a soundtrack so rich that it’s hard to believe there are never more than three people on stage. When Allen

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Posted January 13, 2016in Center Stage

Schneider returns to his comedic roots

What really gets actor/comedian Rob Schneider excited is talking about Des Moines. The Funny Bone is once again hosting the comic Jan. 15-16 — his third visit in five years — and to hear him talk about it, you’d think the star of “Deuce Bigalow” was getting his first big

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Posted January 06, 2016in Center Stage

Tap dancing and turmoil

A critic has to be careful with the word “heartwarming,” a groaning cliché. But if ever a theater story deserved the compliment, it’s the one behind Broadway’s “Newsies.” For starters, the show is based on an extraordinary historical episode, an 1899 strike by New York newsboys. The street kids triumphed

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Posted December 23, 2015in Center Stage

Double-dip uproarious

Des Moines is offering a double-dip of comedy right through the double holiday. Downtown there’s a one-man show — “man,” more or less — and on the east side there’s a busy musical revue. One’s a touring show, the other entirely homegrown. So, how do you like your yucks? “Dixie’s

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Posted December 16, 2015in Center Stage

Straight, white and berserk

The set keeps things plain, but not the pajamas. Designer Tim Wisgerhof restrained himself, deliberately, for the interiors of “Straight White Men.” He worked as if from Sears-&-Roebuck, using mostly brown and beige. He put up artwork by Andrew Wyeth, who celebrated Americana. But midway through the first sequence (the

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Posted December 09, 2015in Center Stage

A bang-bang-up job

When an old show succeeds, it’s often got a new look. Trying out a fresh set designer, in fact, may be the best move the Playhouse made. For “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” Andrea Nice, based in New York, has dreamed up strange amalgamations that take you straight to the heart

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Posted December 02, 2015in Center Stage

Dancing into 3D

The Tin Man had to brush up on his tap-dancing. Jay McGill handles the clattery creature, the one who needs a heart, in the theatrical version of “The Wizard of Oz.” The 1939 movie, magical though it was, needed a retooling to work onstage, and for the Tin Man, this

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