Wednesday, June 28, 2017

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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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Posted September 26, 2016in Center Stage

Use and discard and explode

It comes down to chemistry, finally. Mark Gruber and Kerry Skram, as the couple who dance with doom throughout “Death of a Salesman,” make a volatile compound. Each time they explode, they help Repertory Theater of Iowa deliver the tragedy without once feeling like a drag. This salesman goes down

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Posted September 14, 2016in Center Stage

Syncopated and over the top

In “Hand to God,” local standout Charlie Reese delivers another winning turn. As the teenage Jason, he works through the kid’s grief over losing his dad in a strange way — through a sock-puppet. The puppeteer may struggle for words, but not the potty-mouthed “Tyrone” at the end of his

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Posted August 31, 2016in Center Stage

Death of a dream, triumph onstage

Visiting its new rehearsal space, one can feel the excitement of the new season for Repertory Theater of Iowa.  Formerly a factory, the single vast room has been partitioned into sections for meetings, readings and a rough set. One can feel the pleasure that players take in spreading out. Clearly

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Posted August 10, 2016in Center Stage

Celebrating the stars, far off and at home

Cloris Leachman may be a hometown girl made good, but she hasn’t often come home. Now 90, she prefers retirement Hollywood-style, with a trophy room full of awards — including a record eight Emmys. Yet when John Busbee, the man behind “The Culture Buzz” on KFMG, called the West Coast

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