Story by Katie Ericson
Though jokes are often made about Iowa, Des Moines is actually a pretty sophisticated city.
Each year, Des Moines Performing Arts hosts critically acclaimed artists, Broadway shows, award winning artists and international performances.
“Our goal is to continue to provide world-class quality entertainment to our community,” said Communications Manager Cindy Hughes Anliker. “We’re very proud of the fact that we consistently do that.”
Shows range from musical performances for the Willis Broadway Series to inspiring messages from Smart Talk Connected Conversations.
Des Moines Performing Arts works with the Civic Center, Temple Theater and Stoner Theater to provide this array of events.
“I’ve been going to Civic Center shows for four years now,” said senior Brian Kalina. “And they’ve always come up with impressive shows.”
A few productions are back each season by popular demand. This year it was the Broadway musical “Wicked.”
The show came to Des Moines two years ago and returned this past fall for another session.
“I loved having ‘Wicked’ here,” Anliker said. “Because I love the story and the music.”
Another popular show was Buckwheat Zydeco — an accordion zydeco player (Zydeco is a combination of Cajun and Rhythm and Blues Music from Louisiana).
Zydeco’s show with Live at the Temple Concert Series sold out.
“You never know what you’re going to hear at the Civic Center,” said junior Madison Dockter. “There was a drag queen welcoming us at the first show I went to.”
With its 2014 season going strong, Des Moines Performing Arts is planning to make big changes.
Cowles Commons, formerly known as Melon Plaza, opened in 1979 — the same year the Civic Center opened and is now getting a facelift.
“We’re currently in the process of renovating the park and giving it some tender loving care,” Anliker said. “And creating a new area for downtown Des Moines people to enjoy.”
Renovations include laying red granite called “Des Moines’ Red Carpet,” installing a new sculpture next to “Crusoe Umbrella” and planting native plants and trees.
The new area will hold over 3,000 people for outdoor concerts, festivals or films. Renovations began last fall and are scheduled to be completed in late 2014.
“We’re hopeful that in 2015 we can start programming the space to have programs and concerts,” Anliker said.
The 2014-2015 Des Moines Performing Arts season has not yet been released, but updates can be found on their website, desmoinesperformingarts.org.
Several shows are left in the 2013-2014 season.
The circus-like production “Cirque Mechanics” is coming in May, the Des Moines Symphony is performing Brahms 1 and Saint-Saens on May 10 and 11, and “The Phantom of the Opera” is returning.
“We’re really excited about this re-imagined production of ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’” Anliker said. “It’s very beloved to central Iowans because it helped put the Civic Center on the map in terms of Broadway.”
Anliker said each show is different and worth attending.
“I’ve liked every show that we’ve presented,” Anliker said. “Every show has a unique element about it. There’s great parts about every show.”
If interested in any of the Des Moines Performing Arts’ shows, go online to buy tickets, call the ticket office at (515) 246-2300 or go to www.TicketMaster.com to buy tickets.