“Bridges” world premiere performer returns to Des Moines to star in multiple Tony Award-winning hit show.
The shifting sands of a Broadway touring show will give Des Moines audiences the opportunity to welcome back a performer who was part of the world premiere of the Iowa-centric 2015 musical, “The Bridges of Madison County.” Jessica Sheridan will step into the title role in the national touring production of “Hello, Dolly!” as Betty Buckley takes a leave from the show. Don’t let this change dissuade you from punching your ticket to experience the four-time Tony Award-winning musical, including Best Musical Revival, that has critics cheering far and wide. A captivating feature of this show is the tribute to legendary director/choreographer Gower Champion, still garnering critical acclaim now as he did then for what has been praised as one of the greatest stagings in musical theater history.
Sheridan brings a wealth of talent and experience to her Dolly Levi. Broadway credits in addition to “Hello, Dolly!” include “Sister Act,” “Follies,” “Mary Poppins” and “Les Misérables.” Her national tours include: “The Producers,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Footloose.”
This story follows the title character, a widowed matchmaker, as she plans to match herself to the “half-millionaire from Yonkers,” Horace Vandergelder. Set in 1885, the costuming and scenic design for this production add a breathtaking visual element to its already stunning impact. “Put on your Sunday shoes” and get to the Civic Center, as “Hello, Dolly!” begins its one-week run on April 9.
KISSING A LA COLE PORTER IN ANKENY
Next on the docket at Ankeny Community Theatre is a Cole Porter scored musical play within a play based on William Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.” This musical was in response to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” and other “integrated musicals” quickly gaining popularity. This show format connected music to lyrics to dialogue — all aspects of the show formed a cohesive story line.
“The music for ‘Kiss Me Kate’ is iconic,” shares the show’s director, Charissa Hamel. “Cole Porter has such a way with the lyrics weaving through the melody creating their own percussive elements that it just creates magic.”
The story involves the production of a musical version of Shakespeare’s “Shrew” and the conflict both on and off stage between Fred Graham (Brad Church), the show’s director, producer, and star as Petruchio, and his leading lady, his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi/Kate (Alexandra Gray). A secondary romance concerns the actress playing Bianca, Lois Lane (Ashley M. Rogers), and her gambler boyfriend, Bill Calhoun/Lucentio (Nicholas Root), who is dealing with payback-seeking gangsters.
“The dynamic between the male and female lead is so important to how relationships can both devolve and come back together,” continues Hamel. She elaborated by saying how the shows parallel one another, driven by natural chemistry, until it “gets very real and personal between them most when they are portraying their Shakespearian counterparts.”
With “Another Op’nin’ Another Show” leading a delightful Cole Porter score, the intimate performing space of this company should make for a vibrant experience for the show’s audiences. “Kiss Me Kate” runs April 5-14.
OVERHEARD IN THE LOBBY
“Eat Your Heart Out,” Tallgrass Theatre Company (through April 14); “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus,” Des Moines Performing Arts, Temple Theater (through April 14); “Gruesome Playground Injuries,” Iowa Stage Theatre Company (April 5-14); “Treasure Island,” Des Moines Young Artists Theatre (April 19-28); “Closer,” Open Door Rep (April 11-20 at Mainframe Studios, tickets only through www.opendoorrep.com); “School of Rock,” Des Moines Performing Arts (April 30 – May 5); “It’s Not You, It’s Me,” Second City, Des Moines Performing Arts, Temple Theater (April 30 – May 19); “Proof,” Ankeny Community Theatre (April 25-28). ♦
John Busbee is a creative project developer, critic, playwright, author, producer and media professional. He has produced his weekly show, The Culture Buzz, on KFMG since 2007.