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Zombie trend continues on stage in circus and play

Photo courtesy of Ann Stimmel

It’s just another humdrum day in the office and a coworker is sneezing…and feasting on flesh. Suddenly cubicles erupt with zombie violence with fire eaters, aerialists and kung fu artists in a fight to the death.

“Viral Marketing: A Zombie Circus” will set this spooky scene at Hoyt Sherman Place on October 22 and 23.

The show is produced by Darker Marker Productions, the only Iowa-based circus company.

Ann Stimmel, CEO and show aerialist, said “Viral Marketing” is the first company production.

“It’s like the best parts of a circus and a play,” Stimmel said. “Anyone who’s worked at an office will recognize some of the characters and be able to relate.”

When a disgruntled employee falls ill, he begins to wreak havoc in a quest for human brains. It’s suddenly a corporate apocalypse.

Escape artists, acrobats, dancers, fire poi artists and sword jugglers perform in a fight for their lives. Despite the chaos, workers still vie for promotions, continue their annoying idiosyncrasies and compliment the boss.

Talent was not spared on the cast of characters, including break dancer Zach Benson and juggler Laura Ernst. Both have performed on the television show, “America’s Got Talent.”

Two touring members of the Chicago-based fire troupe, Pyrotechniq, joined the cast to bring a flash of fire to the show.

“I’ve been absolutely knocked off my feet by the amazing, talent we have,” Stimmel said.

Stimmel is on a mission to bring circus art to Iowa.

“The whole mission behind the company is to promote Iowan performers and specifically Iowan circus performers,” Stimmel said. “You would think that there are not a lot of circus performers in Iowa, but there are. They just travel elsewhere to perform.”

Other Midwest cities like Minneapolis and St. Louis have multiple circus production companies.

“We’re looking to develop the next level of art that lets Des Moines compete with other cities,” said Stimmel, who trained at a circus company in Los Angeles.

“When I left, I thought to myself, this really can’t be the last time I perform. I need to take this with me and show it off,” she added.

“Viral Marketing: A Zombie Circus” is set to a pulsing background of modern electronic beats mixed with symphony pieces. Chris Powell, opera singer and Des Moines Playhouse arranger, created the original music composition.

Each track was designed specifically for the individual act. The beats intertwine with the limitations of the characters and the suspense of the plot.

Darker Marker Productions relied on many more local artists to make the show happen. Patrick Boltinghouse, owner of Vanity and Glamour Cosmetics, was in charge of make-up and costuming. Ben Easter, actor and photographer, shot photos of the production, and Hank Adams, co-owner of The Point Academy, provided choreography.

Hold on to your desk because the zombies are coming to an office near you. Check your co-workers and classmates for signs of apocalyptic illness, then snag seats to “Viral Marketing: A Zombie Circus.”

Viral Marketing:  A Zombie Circus

Hoyt Sherman Place
1501 Woodland Ave.

Des Moines, IA 50309

Saturday, Oct. 22 – 7 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 23 – 5 p.m.

Tickets on sale now
Tickets start at $30

In person Hoyt Sherman Place Box Office
Online at ticketmaster.com


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