Friday, January 30, 2015

Annual Manual

Posted November 19, 2014in Center Stage

Showing the man, celebrating the music

When I interviewed Clifton Owen, the man playing Motown founder Berry Gordy in the tour of “Motown the Musical,” the show was in Detroit — Motown itself. As you might expect, the cast was finding the experience a love fest. “People in Detroit are so proud of this music,” said

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Posted November 12, 2014in Center Stage

Zombies, families, light and magic

For the people who put together “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom,” the show must feel like going home. For those who watch it, home may never feel the same. “Neighborhood 3” at StageWest brings together the same crew that mounted the show a couple of years ago for the Social

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Posted November 05, 2014in Center Stage

A wide variety and a world premiere

Every now and then, Des Moines plays host to one of the movers and shakers of performance. This September, Andrew Lloyd Webber slipped quietly into the Civic Center to catch the reboot of his “Phantom of the Opera.” This weekend, watching the Paul Taylor Dance Company, will be Paul Taylor

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Posted October 29, 2014in Center Stage

Hitler, heartbreak and lingerie

On the chalkboard outside the Des Moines Social Club Basement, I saw some sad news. I was there for last week’s late-night “Cabaret,” but for this week, I saw conventional start times. That’s a shame. This is a show made for after-hours. “Cabaret” remains best known for the 1972 movie,

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Posted October 22, 2014in Center Stage

Letting their hair down

The title says it is all about the girls. The standout performance comes from Nancy Zubrod as a “woman of a certain age” who is nonetheless party-hearty. Yet the essence of the hilarity onstage at the Playhouse might turn up in one of the men. This would be Cody Schug,

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Posted October 15, 2014in Center Stage

Making magic with voice and imagination

Onstage, drama comes in three dimensions. The players have heft and the set can trick you into thinking you see a house, a cornfield, a Metropolis. What happens, though, when all you have to go on is the words? When all you’ve got are voices and stage directions? For instance,

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Posted October 08, 2014in Center Stage

Soul-searching, by way of songs and scares

Just before one of the last rehearsals for “Carrie: The Musical,” two of the leads treated everyone to a few bars of lovely harmony. This, too, was rehearsal, of course, one more run-through of a tricky duet between Carrie and her mother. Still, it turned heads, a soaring passage shared

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Posted October 01, 2014in Center Stage

Harriet Potter, entirely homegrown

Few shows put the “community” in community theater more emphatically than the one in Ankeny right now. The cast of “The Little Princess” includes six adults, with day jobs like insurance adjuster, and more than twice as many local children, ranging in age from third grade to 10th. These players

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Posted September 24, 2014in Center Stage

Emotional whipsaw, unflagging spitfires

The set shows the baggage they carry. Even before the start of Repertory Theater of Iowa’s flawless new production, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” you feel the burdens on George and Martha, the drama’s aging spitfires. Their decorating tends to beige and brown, the pillars between rooms suggest cages, and

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Posted September 17, 2014in Center Stage

Thwacking waltzes and splendid surprises

The attack comes in a song, and there’s no defense against it. Late in the first act of “South Pacfic,” Ensign Nellie Forbush shucks off her reservations about Emile de Becque. An all-American girl out of Little Rock, she kisses the middle-aged French exile — a plantation owner in Polynesia

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