Saturday, July 2, 2022

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Center Stage

A new season in Iowa


Local producers plan for live shows in 2021-2022.

Rehearsal for Iowa Stage’s “The Cake” will resume for this re-scheduled 2021-2022 Season opener. Rae Davis Fehring (L) as Macy and Kim Haymes as Jen. Photo Credit – Iowa Stage Theatre Company

With the irrepressible determination of fresh flora emerging from the devastation of a forest fire, the cultural landscape is sprouting new theatrical blossoms. Companies discovered virtual ways to keep producing content to audiences. Some were by Zoom, others more polished. All offered sustenance to help theatre lovers through this unheralded drought. Other companies went dormant. All yearned for the return of performing for live audiences. 

The pandemic’s specter still hangs over us, yet people are testing the public waters with varying degrees of confidence. Companies plan for upcoming seasons, conscientious of creating safe spaces for their shows. 

The Des Moines Community Playhouse offered spring shows with limited, distanced seating in their mainstage John Viars Theatre. This summer, they set a new experience bar for theatrical presentation: in a massive tent in their parking lot and presenting four different productions during July and August. Thanks to a partnership with sponsor MidAmerican Energy, this solidly anchored tent withstood torrential storms while keeping the cast, crew and audience protected. These were stellar productions, and a new chapter of memories in Greater Des Moines theatre lore was written.

Quick overview of full 2021-2022 Seasons


Leading a return to full seasons are Des Moines Community Playhouse, Iowa Stage Theatre Company, Carousel Theatre of Indianola, and Ankeny Community Theatre. Each is planning on presenting a mix of shows, some remounts of shows canceled early in 2020 when the theatre world went dark. 

Iowa Stage opens its season with a show planned for March of 2020 in the Stoner Theatre, the captivating play, “The Cake.” Once their summer schedule wraps, the Playhouse will fill the John Viars Theatre space with the powerful musical, “Cabaret.” Carousel opens its season in August with the musical, “[title of show].” Ankeny Community Theatre renews performances with the drama, “A Piece of My Heart;” they will present a season teaser for it in August, the world premiere of “The Perfect Rendezvous,” a comedy written by veteran theatre performer and writer John Claes. 

Patience is needed for Des Moines Performing Arts when their signature Willis Broadway Series returns early in 2022. The delay is dependent upon Broadway shows, which require significant planning and time to prepare and arrange for national touring. Broadway plans to reopen in September, and DMPA’s shows rely on accessing these shows that are the pinnacle of performing arts for their season. 

Other shows, new collaborations also pepper the schedule

Pyramid Theatre Company has been successfully partnering with other regional producers recently: the Playhouse, Iowa State University, and now Des Moines Performing Arts. “The Gospel at Colonus” is a musical that will be presented in a new theatre venue, the Prairie Meadows Riviera Amphitheatre in Riverview Park, Des Moines. Des Moines Young Artists’ Theatre will present a new musical, “Disney’s Descendants: The Musical.” With the necessary caution from COVID-19 loosening, other producers are expected to begin programming. 

From this next cultural mile marker

For this cultural observer, the pandemic provided the chance to view our arts and culture landscape through a cleansed perspective. Performing seasons and other social, cultural and family activities are viewed with a greater appreciation. Savor each show, each opportunity to engage in what this region has to offer your senses. Now is the time to share your gratitude through cultural interaction.

Overheard in the Lobby 

  • Check for updates with each company regarding future plans 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, canceled, 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 – ♦

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.

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