Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Posted March 16, 2016in Center Stage

Shadows on a seesaw

Tennessee Williams finds strange ways to break your heart. Toward the end of “The Glass Menagerie,” his first masterwork, there is a crushing moment when the hapless Laura hands Jim, her “gentleman caller,” a strange parting gift of a broken toy. She calls it a “souvenir.” But a souvenir of

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Posted March 09, 2016in Center Stage

A rock goddess and her ghosts

Now and then, before a performance, Mary Bridget Davies will sense someone behind her but turn to find nothing there.  At that, she’ll smile. “All right, Janis,” Davies will say. “I’ll do right by you tonight.” She means Janis Joplin. If anyone can contact the 1960s rock goddess, now dead

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Posted March 02, 2016in Center Stage

From confrontation to communication

During the past six months, the best performance in a Des Moines production may have come from an African-American. Aaron Smith, in “A Soldier’s Play,” drew audiences into a howling private torment.  Yet he was working under a death threat. “Before opening night, we got a terrifying phone call. The

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Posted February 24, 2016in Center Stage

Grunge rather than glitz

Broadway tends to bloat, going for overkill as in “Phantom of the Opera.” “Cabaret,” though, recently scored the opposite kind of success. The 1967 original gave us the movie — winning Liza Minelli an Oscar — but a reboot in the ’90s went for grunge rather than glitz. The Emcee,

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Posted February 17, 2016in Center Stage

A long night and a late love

Micheal Davenport takes you straight to the heart of a racist. As “Juror No. 10,” in “12 Angry Men,” he bares an irrational hatred of “those people.” Isolated stage front, his round face contorts as if in a nightmare, first menacing and then frightened. The moment is one of the

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Posted February 10, 2016in Center Stage

Bop brought back to life

Who can say how many great songs we lost one Iowa morning in 1959?  That February, the 22-year-old Buddy Holly was just hitting his stride. A phenom out of Texas with a string of catchy originals, he had his first No. 1, “That’ll Be the Day.” But following a gig

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Posted February 03, 2016in Center Stage

Doubling down on caucus comedy

The use of  the house from “American Gothic”  in Tim Wisgerhof’s flexible set for “Caucus: The Musical!” suits the season, doesn’t it? Every four years, the Heartland goes Broadway. But this winter, when the media spotlight gets too bright, Des Moines offers two splendid escapes:  “Caucus!,” a revue by local

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Posted January 27, 2016in Center Stage

The mysteries of life

He dangles upside down from a rope that is suspended from the ceiling. His straightjacket binds him as he hangs just inches from the unsprung teeth of a 1,200-pound bear trap dubbed the “Jaws of Death.” Should the sharp jaws snap shut, it would stab his body in nearly every

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Posted January 20, 2016in Center Stage

Old folks and fresh tension

For an actor like Tyrees Allen, the voice is an orchestra. Playing Hoke, the man who does the driving, he supplies the latest Repertory Theater of Iowa (RTI) production with a soundtrack so rich that it’s hard to believe there are never more than three people on stage. When Allen

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Posted January 13, 2016in Center Stage

Schneider returns to his comedic roots

What really gets actor/comedian Rob Schneider excited is talking about Des Moines. The Funny Bone is once again hosting the comic Jan. 15-16 — his third visit in five years — and to hear him talk about it, you’d think the star of “Deuce Bigalow” was getting his first big

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