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.

12 - Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After logoAfter the comedy A Delightful Quarantine was a great success for Ankeny Community Theatre a couple of seasons ago, they’ve returned to author Mark Dunn for the wedding day farce Happily Ever After. The bride has locked herself in the bathroom, the caterer on the prowl, and the church is booked for a pet funeral later today, so this wedding has to happen soon. Whether or not everyone will get their happy ending is the source for laughs and fun, opening February 8.

11 - Monty Python’s Spamalot - Young@Part Edition

Spamalot logoGenerations have grown up with the crazed humor of the Monty Python troupe, which reached a peak with the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. A Broadway musical ensued in 2005, and this is the young people’s edition of that show. Presented by CAP-Altoona, the story of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and the Lady of the Lake (and her Laker Girls!) is irreverent, hilarious, and filled with wonderful tunes. A new generation is introduced to Pythonesque humor and parody, with Spamalot opening February 22.

10 - And Then There Were None....

There Were None logoBased the world’s best selling mystery (and one of the best selling books of all time), Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.... continues the mysterious and murderous season for ACTORS in Ames. Also known as Ten Little Indians, the story has been presented in numerous versions over the years, in television and movies. Christie adapted her novel for the stage herself, and changes she made from book to stage continue the tradition of plot twists and surprise endings, sure to keep everyone guessing. The mystery starts January 31.

9 - The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Edward Tulane logoJoin the voyage of a china rabbit named Edward Tulane, the hero in the first show of the year from the Kate Goldman Theatre at the Des Moines Playhouse. Edward passes through a number of owners, falls lost at one point, and affects the lives of a great many people, while discovering his own worth and purpose along the way. Based on the award-winning book by author Kate DiCamillo, this warm and wonderful family story is perfect for a cold winter afternoon. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane starts January 4 and runs for 3 weekends.

8 - Little Women-the Musical

Little Women logoThe J-Term musical is always an interesting choice over at Drake, as students basically have a month of intense work and rehearsals to create a show. And, since it’s part of a collegiate course, they get graded on their work too! This January’s production is Little Women-the Musical, with great music and a faithful adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic story. Directed by Erin Horst (who helmed the terrific Nice Work If You Can Get It on the mainstage last fall), performances are in the Studio Theatre at Drake the last weekend in January.

7 - Kiss Me Kate

Kiss Me Kate Simpson logoThis tuneful adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is filled with the wonderful music of Cole Porter. With classic musical theatre songs like Another Op’nin, Another Show, Brush Up Your Shakespeare, and the wonderful dance number Too Darn Hot, this presentation is a co-production of Theatre Simpson and Simpson College Opera. The show performs for one weekend only, February 28 through March 3, at the Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola.

6 - Fuddy Meers

Fuddy Meers logoInstructor Carl Lindberg has done an incredible job with the DMACC Ankeny theatre program, revamping it over the past couple years and working with other organizations to present great shows. Starting in early March is the DMACC spring production of Fuddy Meers, a comedy journey through memory and bizarre circumstance that will challenge viewer and performer alike. Enjoy this adventure in DMACC’s Black Box theatre beginning March 7 (and it’s free to boot!!)

5 - The Lion in Winter

Lion in Winter logoIowa Stage brings another classic to life in their February production of The Lion in Winter. Call it Game of Thrones without the dragons - there’s sibling rivalry, adultery, and dungeons in the battle for royal inheritance. Written by award-winning author James Goldman and based on the life of England’s King Henry the Second and his conspiring family, the intrigue begins February 22 in the Kum & Go Theatre at the Des Moines Social Club.

4 - Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery

Baskerville logoYou might think yourself familiar with the story of The Hound of the Baskervilles, but Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote it quite like this! With over 40 characters portrayed by just FIVE actors, this is a comedy-mystery tour-de-force that never stops, and will keep you laughing throughout. Grab your magnifying glass and call Dr. Watson, because the game is afoot at the Des Moines Playhouse when Baskerville opens February 22.

3 - Sense and Sensibility

Sense & Sensibility logoThe famous Jane Austen work is adapted for the stage by ISU Alumnus and local favorite actress Kerry Skram for a production by ISU Theatre up in Ames. The story of the Dashwood sisters and their journey to find both status and love in uncertain times is told with this new version, mindful of more modern mores and still holding the same passions and emotion. Fisher Theatre in Ames is home for this production of Sense and Sensibility, which also begins February 22.

2 - You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown // Dog Sees God

Dog Sees God logoDes Moines Young Artists’ Theatre presents a unique double feature, with both shows being presented essentially in repertory in mid-February. While Charlie Brown is the familiar musical with the beloved Peanuts characters, there is a legal disclaimer in front of Dog Sees God that emphatically states that these are NOT those same characters, no matter how familiar they might seem. Pushing teen angst to the limits, Dog Sees God is not for the children, or even the faint of heart among the adults. It’s a harsh, challenging, and at times brutal examination of familiar pleasant lives gone horribly wrong... and how a brief bit of hope is still possible. Both shows are presented at the Stoner Studio Theatre in the Civic Center starting February 15.

1 - Ordinary Days

Ordinary Days logoThis year’s Dream Project from Tallgrass Theatre Company is a modern musical about people searching through the city of New York to find each other, and how not to be alone in a city of 8 million lonely strangers. Starring Charlie Reese and directed by Megan Helmers, Ordinary Days is an intimate musical about the most populated city in America. Join the throng and come inside from the cold when it opens January 18 at the Rex Mathes Auditorium in West Des Moines.

BONUS - Large Group High School Speech Contests

Speech Contest FlagsTalented and enthusiastic students from across the state are getting ready to perform in the annual Iowa High School Speech Association contests. While there are individual events, I recommend the Large Group gatherings. Here you will find One-Act plays, Readers Theatre, Group Improv, and multiple rooms full of Musical Theatre hopefuls. District events are held in various locations on January 19 (the nearest being at Ankeny Centennial), with State (at DM Valley) and All-State (at Ames) competitions following in February. It’s easy and entertaining to camp in a room and see the awesome entertainment available and the stars of tomorrow. You can find out more information at the IHSSA website or just check with your local High School to find how you can follow their performers.

Great stuff coming up for the winter months, and absolutely no reason to hibernate when such amazing shows are happening. So get out there and enjoy it all, and find some bright lights and colorful presentations to help keep you warm! Go see a show!!