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Center Stage

Surprises — serious and otherwise


Kum & Go Theater and elsewhere around Des Moines, September - December 2015.

Kum & Go Theater and elsewhere around Des Moines, September – December 2015.

Up in Ames, they’ve joined the new millennium. Over at the Playhouse, the audience creates a Beatles set, while Des Moines Young Artists participate in a high school shooting. Tallgrass, meantime, offers a reading of an all-new homegrown script. The Temple Theater will bring back Dixie in drag, and the Civic Center will launch the national tour for a Tony winner.

Long and short: Local stages will see some surprises this fall.

In the case of ACTORS in Ames, the new-millennial breakthrough takes place online. ACTORS will now offer tickets through its website. More importantly, working with a troupe in Story City, they’ll have an out-of-town production for the first time in its 60-year history.

At Des Moines Playhouse, the season will begin with Stephen Sondheim and “Into the Woods,” but in October the Beatles come to town. “Yesterday and Today” does without Sgt. Pepper costumes or fake beards, instead relying on a band honed by touring cross country and led by Bill McGuigan. Every night, theatergoers will fill out request cards, and the band will play their favorites.

Prep Iowa

Far more serious fare is on tap at Des Moines Young Artists, with “Columbinus.” The script is derived entirely from actual statements of people involved in the Columbine massacre — including the shooters themselves. For this production, Young Artists has partnered with Des Moines Public Schools, and the show will take place in the East High Library.

The Tallgrass reading, at the end of September, will present its top pick from the summer’s Playwrights Workshop. More intriguing, though, may be its October auditions for “Hillary: A Modern Greek Tragedy.” Who wants to play the former First Lady? In a show that will appear during the caucuses?

At the Temple Theater, meantime, we’ll again see Dixie, the feminine alter ego of Kris Andersson. With “Dixie’s Tupperware Party,” the actor cracked up folks all over the country, and now Des Moines Performing Arts has booked his latest performance piece. The title sounds promising: “Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull.” Meanwhile at the Civic Center, the fall blockbuster looks to be “The Bridges of Madison County.” Performing Arts was a major sponsor for the show’s Broadway run, which won a Tony last year, and so Des Moines will host the initial week of the national tour.

Not every company is breaking new ground. StageWest will continue to premiere plays new to Iowa, starting with “Bad Jews.” Repertory Theater of Iowa will feature classic material, beginning with Neil Simon’s “Broadway Bound.”

But after all, this is live theater. Every time the curtain goes up, there are bound to be surprises.

Overheard in the Lobby: The Cloris Awards Ceremony, Sunday evening, proved splashy and sharp-elbowed. The satire of hosts Nick Renkoski and Kellie Kramer spared no one — skewering, in particular, the lack of pay for local actors. The night’s big winner was Repertory Theater of Iowa, taking Best Play and other awards for “Virginia Woolf,” plus more for “Diary of Anne Frank.” CV

John Domini is a published local author who has lived on both coasts and abroad and enjoyed theater everywhere. See

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