Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Posted February 18, 2015in Center Stage

Festival of surprises

The walls of the Last Laugh, Persian blue, are decorated with empty picture frames, a light tan. The owner, Josh Chamberlain, quickly turned this into a joke. “You can fill the frames in any way that works,” he said. “Just like improv.” In fact, Chamberlain would like to see such

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Posted February 11, 2015in Center Stage

Wounded bull, Southern belle

The playbill for “A Streetcar Named Desire” includes an unusual listing — a “dialect coach.” The “coach” is Ann Woldt, from Simpson — and the woman knows her stuff. Not only did the voices ring true and straight out of Dixie, but also they came together in one bluesy crescendo

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Posted February 04, 2015in Center Stage

Elephant in the room

It takes a professional to weather a blackout. The lights quit unexpectedly midway through the first act of “The Elephant Man” — perhaps this had to do with the blizzard outside — yet Bob Baskerville kept on, unfazed. As Gomm, head of the hospital providing sanctuary to the deformed title

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Posted January 28, 2015in Center Stage

Transmitting the Comedy Virus

When I lived in Chicago, the best cheap date was on a Monday. On that night you could catch the “greatest hits” of Second City, ground zero for improv comedy since 1959. The troupe has launched dozens of stars, from John Belushi to Tina Fey, but the headliners usually skipped

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Posted January 21, 2015in Center Stage

Whatever Lola wants…

“Cyndi Lauper brought it off!” exclaims Nick McCough. “She brought her rock ’n’ roll to Broadway!” What has got McCough so excited is “Kinky Boots,” the new musical, bursting with the same energy Lauper brought to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” in 1983. Thirty years later, her score for “Kinky

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Posted January 14, 2015in Center Stage

Swapping Genders

“It’s the kind of exciting work StageWest has always brought to town,” claims Todd Buchacker. “It proves we’re still taking chances.” Buchacker, the director for this show, might be talking about the title alone: “Cock.” The word isn’t quite so shocking in England, however, where playwright Mike Bartlett set his

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Posted January 07, 2015in Center Stage

Peter Pans Go Head to Head

These days anyone who thinks of the sitcom “Growing Pains” probably thinks of Robin Thicke, the young lead, now a rock star. The show’s success, however, depended more on the father, Alan, and since it ended he’s kept busy, too. He’s done movies with Adam Sandler and written bestsellers about

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Posted December 31, 2014in Center Stage

Uproarious Africa

  It might seem a long way from South Park — that town full of filthy-mouthed kids — to the Mormon tabernacles. Yet the same two talents, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, have made a hilarious spectacle of each. “The Book of Mormon” presents Stone and Parker’s sendup of the

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Posted December 24, 2014in Center Stage

Coming back and ready to bash

“Bash to the Future” At the Des Moines Social Club, the New Year’s “Bash” has always included performance. A few years back I caught “Jerry Springer: the Opera,” a StageWest production, and last year the party featured the aerial ballet of the Iowa Fly Girl, Felicia Coe. What’s new, then,

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Posted December 17, 2014in Center Stage

Iowa Nice in a cage match

If anyone has established Iowa as a center for performance, it’s Scott Seipker. In 2012, Seipker’s sardonic “Iowa Nice” videos propelled him into gigs with ESPN and IPTV. Yet he began in theater, first at Iowa State University and then in small Des Moines venues. He often worked with Brendan

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