Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Posted September 02, 2015in Center Stage, Featured Story

Surprises — serious and otherwise

Up in Ames, they’ve joined the new millennium. Over at the Playhouse, the audience creates a Beatles set, while Des Moines Young Artists participate in a high school shooting. Tallgrass, meantime, offers a reading of an all-new homegrown script. The Temple Theater will bring back Dixie in drag, and the

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Posted August 26, 2015in Center Stage

Critical mass and the Cloris Awards

The best homegrown American theater might be here in the Midwest. Few companies have the impact of Chicago’s Steppenwolf, the birthplace of stars like John Malkovich. Yet when Steppenwolf first won recognition, it was local. It began with the city’s “Jeff Awards.” The Jeffs (named for a 19th century actor)

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Posted August 19, 2015in Center Stage

Heroes erupting in the dark

Among African-Americans, for decades, it was an honor to be called a “race man.” The term referred to those blacks who strove hardest for equality, from Jackie Robinson to Malcolm X. So, too, Charles Fuller, author of “A Soldier’s Play,” turned to writing when he discovered his high school library

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Posted August 12, 2015in Center Stage

Fresh talent across town

The goodwill in the room practically spills out the windows. Upstairs in West Des Moines Public Library, laughter punctuates the run-through of “Masha,” the latest project for the Tallgrass Iowa Playwrights Workshop, one of two new local programs for developing fresh talent. At this rehearsal, the script has reached “version

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Posted August 05, 2015in Center Stage

Hurly-burly in black and white

Anyone stuck in traffic on Oralabor Road can tell you: Ankeny is booming. Last year the population jumped again, and the town lured up city hotspots like Jethro’s. Yet one institution goes back to the days of the cornfields. Ankeny Community Theatre (even the spelling is old-school) is finishing its

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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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