Sunday, October 24, 2021

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Center Stage

Peeking behind a new curtain


As with many theatre producers, the Des Moines Community Playhouse is finding creative ways to keep connections with their patrons. They launched this drive-in theatre concept in June.

When last we convened, I shared observations from leaders in our theater community. The world of live performing arts was immediately plunged into a foggy realm of uncertainty. Shows were cancelled, then seasons. Audience participation evaporated. The Des Moines Playhouse (Playhouse) was forced to furlough, then lay off, almost its entire staff. Outside of Des Moines Performing Arts, that theatre company had the most significant payroll of any local producer.

Des Moines Performing Arts (DMPA) was similarly impacted, with a sudden massive breech in its performing arts schedule. With presenting suspended, their revenue was immediately stopped. The dominos kept falling, leaving a field of scattered shows littering the cultural landscape.

From these shambles, however, the sprouting of new visions, new concepts, new ways of continuing the live performance relationships have sprung. The efforts by our creative community demonstrate the resolve and conviction its members have to keep the embers burning until the flames of new productions, programming and participation herald a rekindled cultural fire.

Thirsting for performances? Drink deeply from these virtual wells

Prep Iowa

While we await a return to the unique experiences of sharing a live performance with other kindred spirits, there are ways to stay informed, connected and somewhat sated about what has been and continues to happen in our community and beyond.

DMPA has built an incredible statewide network of high schools to participate in their annual Iowa High School Musical Theatre Awards program. This past season, this program would have crossed the 70-participant threshold. Although the pandemic brought performances this spring to a halt, there will be recognition for those schools who had produced shows

The Playhouse begins offering Live Drive-in Theatre in June, running through August.

Iowa Stage Theatre Company has created Iowa Stage TV through YouTube, providing a fascinating series of interviews and conversations bringing the people who have made theatre in the past, and who will be making theatre in the future, into your lives. This is a wonderful way to get to know the theatrical talent in our community from an expanded perspective.

Ankeny Community Theatre has been offering Readers Virtual Theatre. Theatre Midwest has announced its plans for next season. Pyramid Theatre Company, although having to cancel its summer season, is laying the groundwork for a return to the powerful theatre that has become their hallmark.           

The Playhouse and DMPA will offer virtual summer camps. With the conditioning of children through their remote schooling, this transition should be a good one. These classes will offer the same core qualities of education, engagement and activities … just in a different way.

Playhouse –


Planning for the future

DMPA has taken a long-range strategy, with full plans for their 2020-2021 Willis Broadway Series anchoring the future. The season launches with the eagerly anticipated “Hamilton,” in a 4-week run in December. The first run of “Hamilton” at DMPA broke attendance records and left many in the Heartland yearning for its return.

For a glimpse into DMPA’s exceptional statewide program, the Iowa High School Musical Theatre Awards, their team created a virtual showcase to replace the truncated performing season.

Overheard in the Lobby

Check for specifics with each company regarding auditions, shows and how to support.

Ankeny Community Theatre –

Carousel Theatre of Indianola –

Class Act Productions –

Des Moines Community Playhouse/Kate Goldman Theatre –

Des Moines Performing Arts – For rescheduled, cancelled, postponed events, and FAQ

Des Moines Young Artists’ Theatre –

Iowa Shakespeare Experience –

Iowa Stage Theatre Company –

Pyramid Theatre Company –

Tallgrass Theatre Company –

Urbandale Community Theatre – ♦

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