Thursday, July 28, 2016


Posted May 18, 2016in Center Stage

A whodunit gone haywire

  At first, “Every Five Minutes” suggests a whodunit. Jay Jagim’s set threatens to drown us; it suggests a swimming pool, blue, sloping away to the far corner. Laura Sparks’ chatter, at the outset, grates on the nerves. Something is clearly awry for the friends gathered center stage. Their chairs

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Posted May 11, 2016in Center Stage

Kathy Griffin, pumped up for crazy business

  Over the phone, Kathy Griffin comes on like gangbusters. The call is just one in a long day of interviews — Griffin’s comedy tour is hitting 80 cities — but the machine-gun energy is the same as onstage. She sounds as if she’s waving her arms around, her red

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Posted May 04, 2016in Center Stage

Two dudes and big smiles

  “What Matt and Trey do is an amazing thing,” exclaims Daxton Bloomquist, referring to Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of “The Book of Mormon,” the uproarious musical about Mormons seeking converts in Africa. Bloomquist has been with the show for three years, but the subject still makes him

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Posted April 27, 2016in Center Stage

The thrill of the silence

For Improvised Shakespeare Company, according to Joey Bland, part of the thrill of opening in a new town is the silence. “In a city where we haven’t played much, for the first five minutes the audience isn’t sure what they’re watching,” he says. The tension feels scrumptious for Bland and

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Posted April 20, 2016in Center Stage

Double-barreled bard

  Rest in peace, William Shakespeare? Not with this ruckus. April 23 marks the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death, and theaters around the world are celebrating the occasion, including two here in Des Moines. Downtown, a classic has been put across with youth and edge. Both the title characters

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Posted April 13, 2016in Center Stage

Orphans singing anthems

  Daddy Warbucks has thought a lot lately about Donald Trump. Our day-glo presidential wannabe, after all, can seem something like Warbucks, the tycoon who adopted Lil’ Orphan Annie. In both the old comic strip and the later musical, Warbucks, too, lives high above Manhattan, atop piles of cash. “But

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Posted April 06, 2016in Center Stage, Featured Story

Silence and song

  Few community theaters would take the risk Tallgrass has in “Children of a Lesser God.” The 1986 movie made a star of Marlee Matlin, the first deaf actor to achieve such success, but Hollywood made a Hallmark card of her romance with her speech pathologist. In its original form

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Posted April 01, 2016in Center Stage

Who ya gonna call?

When Wanda Sykes came to Hoyt Sherman recently, she wound up in a horror show.  A bat swooped down on her onstage. Sykes kept up the patter, but she got out of town that night. Now the bat turns out to be just the beginning. Lately, strange visitors have been

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Posted March 23, 2016in Center Stage

Jeans, a work shirt and a sense of wonder

When you ask Nate Staniforth what inspired his stripped-down brand of magic — doing the impossible right under our noses — he says it was his first Bob Dylan concert. “It set off an electrical transmission between us,” claims Staniforth. “Dylan laid down a challenge, showing how little you need,

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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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