Inside the Production

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

  • 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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  • Dog Sees God

    Dog Sees God logoChildlike innocence often gives way to angst and adolescence, as young people grow and find their own identity in our complicated world. Even the most centered and known personalities are trying on identities and searching for meaning and purpose, let alone finding love and connection. In Dog Sees God, cultural icons go through this process, with surprising and dramatic results.

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  • The A-Sisters Cabaret

    The A-SistersUSO Tours, 3-part harmonies, and the Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy will be the order of the evening on Saturday February 9, when the Late-Nite Cabaret slot at Noce is filled with three fantastic ladies collectively known as The A-Sisters. Complete with tunes from the legendary Andrews Sisters and other memorable melodies, the trio of Allison Bollinger, Alison Buechler, and Ashley Rogers will weave their beautiful musical spell with classics from that era.

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  • The Dinner Detective

    Dinner and a DeathEvery Saturday night for the last four years, terrific meals at the Des Moines Embassy Suites have been interrupted with a murder or two. The Dinner Detective performs their mystery-comedy show each week (most for the public, occasionally for private events), serving up a four-course menu to die for… plus another victim or two for the audience to witness and determine the killer!

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  • Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery

    Baskerville castCertain staples of literature are so well known, a single name is all you need to conjure up images and ideas. So when the Des Moines Playhouse went looking for a non-musical show for this season, Sherlock Holmes was an easy selling point. But Baskerville (opening January 25) is a little bit different from what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may have envisioned when he first wrote the classic mystery novel.

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  • Ordinary Days

    Ordinary Days PosterWhenever anyone over the last few months has asked me what “can’t miss” show is coming up, my reply has been “You HAVE to see Ordinary Days!” This year’s Dream Project production from Tallgrass Theatre Company is one of the best musicals most people have never heard of. And with a stellar cast and production team, there’s absolutely nothing ordinary about Ordinary Days.

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  • IHSSA Speech Contest

    IHSSA SpeechEvery year, thousands of Iowa students take part in the Iowa High School Speech Association (IHSSA) Individual and Large Group speech contests. Beginning in January, these events challenge the best of the best performers in various disciplines, many related to theatrical pursuits. One of the veterans of this process is Stacy Hansen, currently in charge of the Speech and Drama departments at Valley High School in West Des Moines, and also a “Coach-at-Large” for the IHSSA.

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  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

    Edward Tulane castThe first show of the new year is from the Des Moines Playhouse, specifically part of the Family series at the Kate Goldman Theatre. Opening Friday January 4 is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Based on the novel by Kate DiCamillo, this wondrous story has a cast of four playing over 30 characters, all of whom interact with a small toy china rabbit named Edward.

    Four EdwardsEdward really is a toy rabbit in this show, and DM Playhouse costume designer Angela Lampe has built multiple copies of Edward from scratch for use in the play. “He is adorable, and we’re all quite taken with him!” says the narrator of the piece, Laura Sparks. “While the rest of us play multiple parts, the actor playing the Musician (Craig Petersen) is solely the voice of Edward. Music communicates directly to people’s hearts without the need for any words. And Edward communicates heart-to-heart with those he encounters.”

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  • HOPE! Drama Troupe

    Hope logoWhether you are religious or not, the holidays are a great time for family, friends, and feeling loved. But unfortunately that’s not true for everyone, even the youngest amongst us. There are children right here in Central Iowa who deal with abuse and violence, even under the guise of love and care. It’s a confusing time to be growing up, and identifying those troublesome situations is hard when you’re actually involved. The HOPE Drama Troupe is bringing a bit more light to a dark world, and a bit more understanding to all.

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  • Jingles & Dragons

    Jingles & Dragons logoOk, here’s an upcoming event that’s a bit different from the usual theatre stuff covered on the Gentle Guide. While there is a story and the outline of a script here, anything can happen when local role-playing game podcasters Des Moines & Dragons presents Jingles & Dragons, live at the Basement Bar on December 21. What you can be sure of is a raucous crowd and audience participation in a wild adventure fit for the yuletide season… with a twist.

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  • Winter Dozen for 2019

    SnowflakeWinter is upon us, and for Iowa that typically means much colder weather. Some people love it, some hate it, and the rest of it just try to get through it. But one of the things that warms my heart is the incredible slate of theatre we all have to look forward to in the coming three months, and the wonderfully satisfying shows opening up where we can settle in, warm up, and enjoy. With that in mind, here’s a dozen shows (and a bonus event) you might want to check out soon.

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