Inside the Production

Here you will find articles, interviews, and information about the people and shows coming up in central Iowa.

  • Annie

    03fd744f 5dfc 446a 9082 19035f509311Based on the comic strip version of Little Orphan Annie, the musical theatre version of Annie has been around for more than 40 years now, with revivals and tours galore. The original Broadway show won seven Tony awards, and you can’t really go anywhere and not find the show and its music referenced in pop culture somehow. Starting this weekend, Urbandale Community Theatre (UCT) gets to present it in a brand new venue for shows, Franklin Jr. High in Des Moines. 

    The director for the Urbandale version of Annie is Kelsey Rae Moran. She’s definitely dedicated to this particular production considering she actually lives an hour away, where she’s a Vocal Music teacher as well as the head Speech and Drama Director at Adair-Casey/Guthrie Center Schools. So why is she so involved with a show that takes her so far from home?


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  • Disney’s Newsies!

    8b180a38 c288 4e98 bba3 919bfc4aa3caDid you hear the news? The Des Moines Playhouse opens their production of Disney’s Newsies! beginning this Friday, July 12. With a huge cast and some show-stopping dance numbers, Newsies is sure to be a treat for everyone! It’s been a world-wide whirlwind to put this all together, so read all about it!


    Disney’s Newsies! is based on the 1992 movie of the same name, and was turned into a stage musical in 2011. Originally only supposed to run for a limited time, the show became a huge hit on Broadway, ran for more than 1,000 performances, and spawned a filmed stage production/video release and beloved cast album. Many of the current members of the Playhouse cast are very familiar with the show through this exposure, and it even led one to audition from half a world away.


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  • A Summer in Iowa

    Lauridsen AmpitheatreIt’s time again for another seasonal list of shows that are coming up in the Central Iowa area. Summer is a great time for huge family musicals, Shakespeare, and the yearly offerings of the DM Metro Opera, not to mention our own annual celebration of theatre with the Cloris Awards. So here’s what to be on the lookout for in the next few months locally.

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  • Des Moines Metro Opera

    DMMO LogoThe summer season for the Des Moines Metro Opera starts this coming weekend. Known for world-class performances and an amazing outreach, the DMMO has been going strong for almost half a century, and this season is no exception. With three different shows running in repertory, there’s a variety for every opera fan, and for everyone who’s just curious and never had the experience.

    As has become practice for the DM Metro Opera season, the three shows each show off the form in different ways. Their first, La Bohème, would be considered the most “classical” production this year. For the more musical theatre oriented, they offer Leonard Bernstein’s Candide (featuring the showtune favorite Glitter and Be Gay. And lastly, they offer the modern Polish opera Wozzeck, a dreamlike emotional story very unlike what most think of when they hear the word “opera”.


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  • Love’s Labor’s Lost

    Labors dancingThe annual Summer Shortened Shakespeare presentation from DMACC Ankeny starts next weekend. Opening on Saturday June 22, Love’s Labor’s Lost will be staged at the Library building (Building 6) on the DMACC Ankeny campus. But this is no ordinary presentation of Shakespeare, as is evidenced right from the start. I mean, look at the boy band that just came to town!!!

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  • Macbeth

    Macbeth folioArguably the greatest play in the history of English literature, Shakespeare’s Macbeth is challenging and rewarding, both for the audience and the performers. Iowa Stage presents Macbeth for five evenings only staring this Wednesday June 12 and running through Sunday June 16. Part of their yearly Shakespeare on the Lawn series, it will be performed outdoors at the beautiful Salisbury House and Gardens.

    The story of Macbeth is one of ambition, alliance, doubt, and despair, all essential parts of the human condition. And although the play was written 400 years ago, it still speaks to the seductive nature of power, and the price paid by those in its proximity. Modern narratives use these building blocks to create their own expansive tapestries, and yet few have done it as effectively as Shakespeare.


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  • Silent Sky

    Silent Sky universeThe year 1900 was a time of discovery. There were still parts of the world that had yet to be seen with human eyes. But other eyes were looking to the vastness of space, and the multitude of stars above. Silent Sky presents young Henrietta Leavitt as she joins a team of women working on cataloging the observations of scientist Charles Pickering at the Harvard College Observatory. As he scanned the skies, the women would record the magnitude and positions of the stars from photographic plates taken from the telescope. After all, in those days, women weren’t even allowed to touch the telescope, let alone actually see the stars!

    But Leavitt and her friends didn’t just do copywork. As she managed the figures, she was able to note differences in stars as they moved through the sky, and discover patterns. With her math and science skills, she discovered a way to determine the actual distance from one star to another, and therefore from Earth to the stars. As she says in the play, “We can skip star to star across deepest space until we know... exactly where we are!”


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  • Iowa High School Musical Theatre Awards Showcase

    Showcase logo sizedThe future of Musical Theatre is in great hands... because there are literally hundreds of Iowa’s best high school performers about to descend upon the Des Moines Civic Center to share their talents and dreams. On Monday June 3, students from schools all over the state will be singing and dancing together at the Iowa High School Musical Theatre Awards Showcase, and soon some will even get a chance to strut their stuff in New York under the lights of Broadway.


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  • The Friendly Hour

    Friendly Cast bwThere’s a new face in the area theatre scene. TheatreMidwest presents The Friendly Hour, opening May 9 and running for one weekend at the Viking Theatre at Grand View University. With a focus on representing life in the midwest and giving voice to women and other under-represented groups, the organization’s choice of inaugural presentation is telling.


    The Friendly Hour is the story of a women’s group in South Dakota, and is taken from 70 years of history and the records of their meetings. We see the changes in society and in attitudes through the cast of five women (one of whom plays multiple roles). Growth, compassion, challenges, and simple connection are all on display, as these women face battles large and small through the years. Usually alongside a tasty lunch....


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  • Sunday on the Rocks

    62d23418 8a25 42d1 9d32 f6da1a506c06Next weekend is the final show of the Drake school year. Sunday on the Rocks by Theresa Rebeck features four women, each with their own problems (and differing approaches to life), learning from each other and learning about themselves. Directed by Adam Yankowy, the show has been a window onto the world of challenges and struggles any woman could face in the future... and how to face them with friends and understanding.

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  • Ella Enchanted

    Allyson EllaThe story of Cinderella is typically one of the first stories told to children when they’re very young. European versions can date back to The Brothers Grimm and beyond, and many variants have been created up to our present day. One of the newest of these is entitled Ella Enchanted, and the Des Moines Playhouse is presenting this modern musical take on the classic story beginning Friday, April 26.


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  • Treasure Island

    Treasure IslandDes Moines Young Artists’ Theatre loves introducing the adventure of theatre to new performers and audiences. Their production of Treasure Island (beginning next week at the Stoner Studio Theatre) opens the classic Robert Louis Stevenson pirate adventure to young women, complete with a female lead character and a completely female design team. But it’s not just about the fact that “Girls need adventure too!” It’s just as much about family and connection.


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  • Closer

    Closer logoA compass will help find your path. But it has four principal directions, all different, all moving away. Now imagine 4 characters, each trying to find their path towards love, each searching for a way that will bring them to reach someone. Yet all are unsuccessful because the others are in a different direction than they know. Like those four points on the compass, people are eternally moving apart, and yet they’re trying, so desperately, to become Closer.

    In the award-winning play Closer by author Patrick Marber, four strangers continually orbit each other’s lives, trying to figure out where they belong (and with whom), and yet never quite achieving happiness. It’s all about the journey, lust and longing, and the ways we poor humans search for connections to someone else, and then sometimes sabotage it when success is there for the taking. Open Door Rep is known for bringing challenging and thoughtful material to the area, and Closer is no exception.


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  • Kiss Me Kate

    5e6404d5 7633 43ce 80d1 dc7d2cab8cf9Ankeny Community Theatre is presenting the musical Kiss Me Kate, opening Friday, April 5. This tuneful Cole Porter musical combines backstage romance, Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, and multiple storylines. The tales of feuding former spouses, the young starlet trying to find love and still keep her options open, and gangsters trying to make sure debts are paid all combine with song and dance galore.


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  • Gruesome Playground Injuries

    Gruesome pairYou know it’s going to be a different show when you send off an email with the subject line “Gruesome Pictures for Guide.” And yet that’s what I got to do this week. Iowa Stage presents the play Gruesome Playground Injuries beginning Friday April 5 at the Social Club’s Kum & Go Theatre. And yes, this show might be just as odd as it sounds… because it’s a love story. And love hurts….
    In Rajiv Joseph’s two-character play, we see Kayleen and Doug at various moments in their lives. They meet as children, and begin a rather unique relationship that runs through their intermittent time together… primarily in medical facilities as one or the other is getting care for the various physical and emotional injuries they suffer.

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  • Catch Me If You Can

    PilotStew Catch MeWe’ve all wished for life to be different at times. Big or small, simple or complex, people often want most what they don’t already have. But what if you figured out how to live that other life? Repeatedly? Would it be enough? That’s part of the journey in the musical Catch Me If You Can, opening March 22 at the Des Moines Playhouse.
    Based on the award-winning movie and book, Catch Me If You Can is the story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. He was famous for successfully (and illegally) impersonating an amazing number of people. He “became” a doctor, an airplane pilot, and numerous other individuals (without training or expertise). He also ended up forging millions of dollars worth of checks and living the high life, before ultimately being caught. He then morphed into an expert for the FBI, to help them catch others who try to get away with the kind of impersonations and crimes he committed.

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  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

    Cuckoo cast cheerTo maintain the kind of theatre schedule I have with the Gentle Guide, some would call me crazy. But I’m as sane as can be, just very passionate about what I’m doing. There’s another kind of crazy out there, and it’s still a question of who is sane, and who might not be. Welcome to the state hospital, the nurses and patients, and Carousel Theatre of Indianola’s production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

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  • Mary Poppins

    Mary and children NewtonIt’s a Jolly Holiday once again, as Newton Community Theatre mounts their production of Mary Poppins. Beginning Friday March 8 and running for two weekends, this family favorite brings together all the classic characters from the beloved Disney movie, plus a few more from the original P.L. Travers books, all to delight audiences with merry tunes and sparkling dance.

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  • Fuddy Meers

    Fuddy Meers logoDMACC Ankeny has been constantly building up their theatre program since the arrival of Program Chair Carl Lindberg in the Spring of 2017. Since then, they’ve expanded into offering more classes and shows per year, co-productions with Grand View University, entering the annual 7-11 Theatre Project, and a “Shortened Shakespeare” presentation outdoors each summer. Their next production is Fuddy Meers, opening at the DMACC Ankeny Black Box Theatre on campus March 1.

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  • Sense and Sensibility / The Lion in Winter

    Kerry SkramIt’s Valentines week, so I get to talk about a theatre person with a tremendous heart. Kerry Stram is an activist, a mother, and, above all, passionate about theatre. And she shows that passion with two projects both opening next Friday. As an author, she adapted Sense and Sensibility as a play, being presented up in Ames for ISU Theatre. And as an actor, she’s starring in The Lion in Winter at the Kum & Go Theatre for Iowa Stage.

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