Des Moines Playhouse outlines 101st season of local plays and musicals
What’s better than 100 years of locally produced entertainment? 101 years, of course.
The Des Moines Community Playhouse unveiled this week plans for its landmark 101st season of Iowa theater, beginning Sept. 6 with a production of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” and wrapping Aug. 2, 2020 with “Matilda the Musical.”
The Playhouse plans to bring 10 volunteer-led productions to Iowa’s capital city in its 2019-20 season, with “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “Singin’ in the Rain” and “A Christmas Story: The Musical” leading the bill.
In its 25th season, The Kate Goldman Children’s Theatre enlists contemporary and classic favorites with “Freaky Friday,” "James and the Giant Peach,” “Tinker Bell” and the musical “Pippi Longstocking.”
Shows returning to the Playhouse include “Singin’ in the Rain” (last performed in the 1995-96 season), "The Diary of Anne Frank" (1997-98 season), "James and the Giant Peach" (2010-11 season) and "Pippi Longstocking" (2005-06 season).
Season tickets go on sale March 15 via dmplayhouse.com or at the Playhouse box office (832 42nd St.).
The season comes following a $4 million renovation to the Playhouse theater, which brought new seats, sound and lighting to the venue, as well as a refurbished stage, lobby and restrooms.
Last year, with “Elf: The Musical,” the Playhouse hosted its highest-grossing performance in organization history. Twenty public shows of “Elf” brought in 8,465 theatergoers and roughly $250,000 in ticket revenue.
A closer look:
(Show descriptions courtesy of the Playhouse)
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Sept. 6-29): "The knock-'em-dead, uproarious hit of the most-nominated show of the 2014 Broadway season!
Set in London in 1907, 'A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder' centers on Monty Navarro, a penniless clerk who learns after the death of his mother that he is ninth in line to inherit the earldom of Highhurst, controlled by the wealthy D’Ysquith banking family. After the imperious ruling Lord dismisses Monty’s claim of being a relative, the eight D’Ysquiths ahead of young Mr. Navarro begin dying in natural and unnatural ways. A single actor plays all the not-so-nice D'Ysquiths, which adds to the merriment."
Freaky Friday (Oct. 18-Nov. 3): "How freaky would it be if you turned into your mother?! 'Freaky Friday,' a new musical based on the celebrated novel by Mary Rodgers and the hit Disney films, is a heartfelt, comedic, and unexpectedly emotional update on an American classic. By spending a day in each other's shoes, Katherine and Ellie come to appreciate one another's struggles, learn self-acceptance, and realize the immeasurable love and mutual respect that bond a mother and daughter.
A Christmas Story: The Musical (Dec. 6-23): "We triple-dog-dare you to see this show! Set in the 1940s in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana, the musical follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker and his quest for the Holy Grail of Christmas gifts: an Official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Rebuffed at every turn with a similar echoing response, Ralphie plots numerous schemes to achieve his desperate desire for the coveted BB gun. All the iconic scenes from the movie are here: Ralphie's friend, Flick, getting his tongue stuck to the flagpole; his brother, Randy, getting dressed in his snowsuit; the bullies, Farkus and Dill; the leg lamp award; the bunny suit; the Chinese restaurant; Christmas dinner; and many others."
James and the Giant Peach (Jan. 3-19, 2020): "Adventures this big don’t grow on trees! A magical peach! An imprisoned boy! Giant talking insects! The incredible tale of James Henry Trotter will fulfill the fantasy of anyone who has ever dreamed of escaping to a new and exciting world. Roald Dahl's story comes hilariously to life in this delightful dramatization that reveals the wickedness of some, the goodness of others, and the indecision encountered by many when they are faced with crises. James and the Giant Peach is high adventure for the whole family!"
The Diary of Anne Frank (Jan. 24-Feb. 9, 2020): "Wendy Kesselman’s adaptation of the original, Pulitzer Prize-winning script by Goodrich and Hackett draws from previously unpublished parts of Anne Frank’s real-life diary. For nearly two years, Anne, her father, mother, and sister, joined with the Van Daan family, hide in a secret annex space above her father’s former office in Amsterdam as the Nazis deport the Jews of Holland to their deaths. In her secret attic, Anne comes of age: she laughs, plays, fights with her mother, and falls in love for the first time. In spite of her oppressive circumstances and the horrors that surround her, Anne’s spirit transcends, as she voices her belief that “in spite of everything, people are truly good at heart.” Anne’s dynamism, her luminous spirit, and her story of resilience continue to resonate deeply, making her story as vital today as when her diary first was published."
Tinker Bell (Feb. 21-Mar. 8, 2020): "Do you believe in fairies? Because they believe in you! Of all the stories told about Neverland, Tinker Bell’s has gone untold. Until now. Witness the origin of one of the most famous fairies in literature, from her first encounters with cherished children’s characters like Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Wendy Darling, to her triumph at the Battle for Neverland."
Singin’ in the Rain (Mar. 13-Apr. 5, 2020): Silent movies are out. 'Talkies' are in! Unfortunately for famed movie star Don Lockwood, his leading lady’s comically harsh and squeaky voice is ill-suited for the switch. When their next film is converted into a talking picture, the studio must bring in aspiring actress Kathy Selden to voice all of its female star’s speaking and singing parts. Sparks fly between Kathy and Don in this charming love story that will give everyone the same glorious feeling they get when singing in the rain."
Pippi Longstocking (Apr. 24-May 17, 2020): "Rules are made to be broken. On the outskirts of town stands a ramshackle house. It may not seem like much until you peek through the railings. Then there’s a horse on the porch, a monkey in the kitchen, and a freckle faced, red-pigtailed, whirlwind of a girl in mismatched stockings presiding over all! This is the domain of Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking. She has what she needs to get by, and if she doesn’t she’ll make something up that will do the trick."
Leaving Iowa (May 29-June 14, 2020): "For anyone who’s ever been on a family vacation and laughed to tell about it. Don Browning, a middle-aged writer, returns home to put his father’s ashes to rest. When Don discovers that Grandma’s house in now a grocery store, he has a new mission — to trek across Iowa to find a proper resting place — and he’s dragging his entire family along with him! Join Don and his family on a family road trip that will bring them face to face with colorful characters from a motormouth waitress to eccentric Civil War reenactors and more."
Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical (July 10-Aug. 2, 2020): "Magical. Mischievous. Miraculous. From the nonsensical mind of Roald Dahl comes this timeless tale of young Matilda Wormwood. Intellectually gifted, Matilda is unappreciated by her shallow parents and terrorized by tyrannical headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. The only person who sees her is Miss Honey, her teacher. But even Miss Honey can’t predict the extent of Matilda’s powers. Matilda’s courage and cleverness could be the school pupils' saving grace."