Sunday, July 24, 2016


Posted July 20, 2016in Center Stage

Rock times two

No tribute band ever got a better endorsement. George Harrison, the late great Beatle, once showed up at a performance by Damian Darlington, then and now the leader of a Pink Floyd tribute. What’s more, this was a birthday party for David Gilmour, a founder of the original ensemble. “There

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Posted July 13, 2016in Center Stage

Crying mercy, and doing good

    “Raisin In the Sun” has a rollercoaster of a second act, so gasp-inducing that Lorraine Hansberry’s play became Broadway’s hottest ticket of 1959, and after that, a star-making film for Sidney Poitier. For the production from Pyramid Theatre, Des Moines’ first African-American company, Director Tiffany Johnson found a

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Posted July 06, 2016in Center Stage

The lady packs a wallop

  Is this the birth of a star? Sydney Mancasola comes to Des Moines between assignments in Berlin and London, playing the title character in “Manon,” one of opera’s great tragic heroines. She commands the stage on the strength of her voice alone, a soprano that, even as it soars,

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Posted June 29, 2016in Center Stage

Skinny jeans and belly whoppers

    Were those skinny jeans for opening night at the opera? Actually, yes, and a couple of young women sported black ankle-high lace-ups, bohemian. Looking around, you might think the opera was hip. The idea had Artistic Director Michael Egel nodding in agreement. “We’ve done a lot of outreach

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Posted June 22, 2016in Center Stage

A busy barefoot beauty

  A woman’s naked heel, in an open auditorium, can provide thunderous punctuation. The echoing slaps of the first dancer’s feet in “Shakuntala” gets everyone’s attention at once. The performer, JoLynn Evans, petite though she is, delivers a head-snapping opener. She could be announcing “Showtime!” — with her feet. What

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Posted June 15, 2016in Center Stage

King and fool, rage and redemption

  Could King Lear be showing the Christmas spirit? The aging monarch presides over a tragedy — possibly Shakespeare’s greatest. By play’s end, the bodies onstage include Lear’s three daughters, and among them is the one he betrayed, Cordelia. Yet during a late rehearsal on the patio at Salisbury House,

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Posted June 08, 2016in Center Stage

Reconciliation that rankles

    Even with no set and only one of the two actors in costume, the tension percolates. The opening minutes of “Mothers and Sons” bring together the conservative mother of a gay AIDS victim and his last, most serious lover. Even in rehearsal, they make an uneasy pair. Nancy

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Posted June 01, 2016in Center Stage

The family circus, back at home

“You Can’t Take it With You,” the Broadway smash from 1936, has probably been in production somewhere ever since. A laugh-fest with a lot of heart, it took home the Pulitzer. An Oscar-winning movie and thousands of smaller stagings soon followed. “Also, you find the basic story in plenty of

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Posted May 25, 2016in Center Stage

Elves and aerial artists

  Performance around Des Moines keeps trying out new ventures. Just this spring, the city offers both experimental theater and “King Lear.” Two wilder options in the coming days showcase a budding community. One has a name both baffling and laughable: “LARP!” The initials stand for “Live Action Role Playing,”

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Posted May 18, 2016in Center Stage

A whodunit gone haywire

  At first, “Every Five Minutes” suggests a whodunit. Jay Jagim’s set threatens to drown us; it suggests a swimming pool, blue, sloping away to the far corner. Laura Sparks’ chatter, at the outset, grates on the nerves. Something is clearly awry for the friends gathered center stage. Their chairs

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