Sunday, October 22, 2017

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Posted March 06, 2017in Center online exclusive

The Game of Thrones, with whiskey and pills

When I say one of the best moments onstage was incomprehensible, I mean it as a compliment. Director Matthew McIver has brought off a wow of a show in “August: Osage County,” wringing the recent Pulitzer winner for every last hoot of laughter and gasp of horror. Often these erupt

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Posted March 01, 2017in Center Stage

Upping the game everywhere

Just how big of a splash has local theater made during the last decade? The best measure may be how far the ripples have reached. Community stages in Ames, Winterset, Newton and Ankeny have all recently upped their games — to enthusiastic applause. A case in point came over the

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Posted February 03, 2017in Center online exclusive

‘Well played, old sport’

Benjamin Sheridan has delivered the sort of supporting performances that put the leads in the shade. Last fall, in “Death of a Salesman,” his turn as the title character’s older son — first worshipful, then scornful — sketched a tragic, emotional journey that those who saw it won’t soon forget.

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Posted February 01, 2017in Center Stage

Everything from electricity to silk

Matthew Baker, a product of the suburban Midwest, sounds inspired to work with a man whose roots are in New York hip-hop. Kyle Abraham, creator of, came out of Queens with a fresh vision for the art of dance. “He’s a man of his times,” says Baker. “The issues

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Posted January 04, 2017in Center Stage

Intense, intimate and jazzy

The city’s most intense musical theater last year took place practically in audience members’ laps. The audience sat eye-level with the players as they wove through the jazz club Noce, putting across “Murder Ballad” with lust and violence. Rarely has “dinner theater” felt so edgy. “The space is so intimate,”

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Posted November 30, 2016in Center Stage

The Miracle of the Espresso

These days, Des Moines has a showcase area known as the Western Gateway that includes Papajohn Sculpture Park and downtown anchors like Centro restaurant. Yet, 15 years ago much of the area was badly dilapidated. The Masonic Temple was still in renovation, and many locals believed the place should have

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Posted November 18, 2016in Center online exclusive

Agony and magic

The excitement that lights up “Ugly Lies the Bone” takes many forms, but it all starts with the script. Playwright Lindsey Ferrentino, though still in her 20s, has already picked up several awards and armloads of critical praise. She keeps every encounter unsettled, yet entertaining, so that the laugh lines

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Posted November 02, 2016in Center Stage

Center Stage: A mystery with a happy ending

The Oscar winner “Shakespeare in Love” has a great bit about theater. According to the man who runs Shakespeare’s company, he’s always facing “insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.” And how does the show go on? “It’s a mystery,” he shrugs. Todd Buchacker, artistic director of StageWest, knows

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Posted October 31, 2016in Center online exclusive

Girls gone wild — and wrinkled

The opening night of “Calendar Girls” was sold out, and some of the reasons were obvious. The comedy makes for an amiable night, like its source, a date flick from 2003, starring Helen Mirren. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing “women of a certain age” getting rowdy and baring their souls —

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Posted October 05, 2016in Center Stage

High kicks and controversy

Almost as soon as “West Side Story” opened in 1957, it ascended to heaven. The angels included the musical maestro Leonard Bernstein, and songs like “Tonight” were instant classics. The Oscar-winning movie helped cement its landmark status, and this month’s revival at the Playhouse looks to put a new generation

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