Sunday, June 26, 2016


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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Posted May 11, 2016in Center Stage

Kathy Griffin, pumped up for crazy business

  Over the phone, Kathy Griffin comes on like gangbusters. The call is just one in a long day of interviews — Griffin’s comedy tour is hitting 80 cities — but the machine-gun energy is the same as onstage. She sounds as if she’s waving her arms around, her red

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Posted May 04, 2016in Center Stage

Two dudes and big smiles

  “What Matt and Trey do is an amazing thing,” exclaims Daxton Bloomquist, referring to Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of “The Book of Mormon,” the uproarious musical about Mormons seeking converts in Africa. Bloomquist has been with the show for three years, but the subject still makes him

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Posted April 27, 2016in Center Stage

The thrill of the silence

For Improvised Shakespeare Company, according to Joey Bland, part of the thrill of opening in a new town is the silence. “In a city where we haven’t played much, for the first five minutes the audience isn’t sure what they’re watching,” he says. The tension feels scrumptious for Bland and

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Posted April 20, 2016in Center Stage

Double-barreled bard

  Rest in peace, William Shakespeare? Not with this ruckus. April 23 marks the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death, and theaters around the world are celebrating the occasion, including two here in Des Moines. Downtown, a classic has been put across with youth and edge. Both the title characters

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