Category Archives: theater

Unexpected ticket to Broadway’s hottest musical: Hamilton

imageI had hopes but no expectations of snagging a ticket to “Hamilton” but on a rainy Wednesday, having found myself near Times Square (while visiting a friend at the Hearst building on 8th avenue) and with a free afternoon until dinner with another friend, I sauntered over to TKTS. No matinee Hamilton tickets, as expected.
Then I remembered reading about a ticket lottery at the theater on 46th where Hamilton is running. At 10:45 am a line was already forming and when I learned the slips for the lottery would be available at 11:30, with the drawing at noon for the 2 pm matinee, I decided “why not?” Very minor time commitment and it was fun talking to other people in line including a couple from the Twin Cities. By 11:30, as promised, the line was now about 300-400 people long and soon after dropping my slip in a bucket, I started making other plans for the day. With 20 tix available, and winners able to claim up to 2 tix each, It was a long shot.

Still, it was great to be in the crowd as a guy drew slips out of the bucket and shouted them out with a bullhorn. Excited winners screamed and the crowd cheered them on. After the first 20 tix ($10 front row seats) were gone, the bullhorn guy announced an unexpected treat…10 standing room tix, $40 each.

For a brief moment, I tried to imagine what it would be like to hear my name through that bullhorn. And then suddenly, I heard “Betsy” and then some variation of my last name. I was stunned. I don’t remember raising my hand (as winners are supposed to do to indicate if they want one or two tix) but the crowd pushed me forward (I was way in the back) and sure enough, there was my scrawl on one of the slips the bullhorn guy held. WOW! About 15 “winners” collected and paid for tickets and then we left to grab a quick lunch before the show. (I found a decent tuna sandwich nearby.) Must admit it was really cool to unexpectedly feel lucky. Kind of felt like Mary Tyler Moore when she throws her hat up in the air.

imageAt 1:30 I was back in line to get into the theater with regular tix holders including three women from Vermont and New Hampshire who bought their tix last May for $190 each. The standing room slots were behind the mezzanine, center aisle, each numbered and assigned by ticket. I stood next to a sweet young woman from Massachusetts who knew the Hamilton score by heart and was thrilled. We were all thrilled. Standing for 3 hours with my iffy back wasn’t a big problem. We could lean into the half wall in front of us. And we had plenty of room to dance to the hip hop score. Kind of like a classy mosh pit. We couldn’t see the upper balcony of the set unless we rushed a few feet to the aisle and bent on our knees, which was a strange way to see a show but seemed sort of right, given how I got my ticket.

I loved loved loved the show, the music ( catchy hip hop and beyond), the dancing, the story, the staging. Who knew Hamilton was so interesting? (This college history major didn’t.) Now I want to read the Hamilton bio and of course, get the Hamilton CD. I also really appreciated the Hamilton folks doing this for us little people. What fun it would be to be the bullhorn guy.

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Filed under New York City, theater

More excitement for the real Madison County (Iowa) – book, film, now Broadway musical!

Outside the revamped Northside Cafe in Winterset, Iowa

Outside the revamped Northside Cafe in Winterset, Iowa

Madison County Iowa and it’s famous covered bridges may soon see a resurgence of tourists thanks to the soon to be Broadway Musical based on Robert James Waller’s “Bridges of Madison County” novel.  The musical is debuting this summer at the famous theater festival in beautiful Williamstown, Massachusetts.

After the novel and then the movie came out in 1995 – which was filmed on location in Iowa with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, no less – people flocked to the area to visit the bridges. I took at least one English friend besotted with the novel to tour the area back in the mid 1990’s. If and when visitors return, they’ll find some added attractions and improvements in the county seat of Winterset – including the Northside Cafe, the old small town cafe that was used as a film location for the movie and is under new ownership with the same charm but much better food! There’s also some nice shops around the square and an English-style maze in the local park. And there’s a big move afoot to revamp the John Wayne Birthplace/museum  – a humble little white house (see photo below)- into a mega-John Wayne Museum.NYTimes story on Bridges of Madison County on Broadway!


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Filed under DESTINATIONS - Iowa, DINING, Massachusetts, music, theater

“Once” “Alvin Ailey” coming to Des Moines in 2014!! And more good stuff!

The Civic Center of Greater Des Moines has done it again – it’s bringing some great shows to the city starting in fall 2013 and into 2014. This year, in February, we got  the national traveling tour of  the “Book of Mormon.” In 2014 we’re getting the one musical I REALLY wanted to see – “Once” – which comes April 22-27, 2014 (maybe I’ll go for my birthday on the 26th…I took my husband for his Feb. birthday to Book of Mormon). “Once” is the stage adaptation of the 2006 movie, which had such great songs by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová – Thank you thank you! Friends who saw it on Broadway raved!

Other great shows:

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – March 18, 2014 (photo below)

– Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty – sept. 27-28, 2013

– Porgy and Bess – april 1-6, 2014

– American Idiot (the Green Day -inspired rock opera) Jan. 24-25, 2014

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Filed under dance, Des Moines, theater

Cheaper Book of Mormon tix available by lottery in Des Moines!

Des Moines Performing Arts/The Civic Center

The Book of Mormon is arriving soon in Des Moines – and I bought  tickets long ago for Feb. 2 (commonly know as Groundhog’s day but in this household as Dirck’s bday.) But according to the newly branded Des Moines Performing Arts/Civic Center (still commonly known as the Des Moines Civic Center),  some cheap tickets ($25 vs. the $60 or so I spent) will be available by lottery. Not sure what’s up with that but interesting…see the new website:

The Book of Mormon


Nine 2011 Tony Awards® say it’s the Best Musical of the Year. Vogue says, “It’s the funniest musical of all time.” And The New York Times says, “It’s the best musical of this century.” It’s THE BOOK OF MORMON, the Broadway phenomenon from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q co-creator Robert Lopez. The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart calls it “So good, it makes me angry.” Contains explicit language.

There will be a pre-show lottery at the ticket office, making a limited number of tickets available at $25 apiece. Entries will be accepted at the Civic Center Ticket Office beginning two and a half hours prior to each performance; each person will print their name and the number of tickets (1 or 2) they wish to purchase on a card that is provided. Two hours before curtain, names will be drawn at random for a limited number of tickets priced at $25 each, cash only. Only one entry is allowed per person. Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show valid ID to purchase tickets. Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner. Tickets are subject to availability.

More Info

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Take me back to Stratford (Ontario) in 2013! (The Who’s Tommy, Othello et. al.)

Looks like we need to make a return visit next year to Stratford Ontario, home of the famous Shakespeare Festival (and yes, Justin Bieber.) We used to go to Stratford a lot when I was growing up in suburban Detroit – which is a few hours drive away – but it’s been at least ten years since we’ve returned. The 2013 season includes a production of the “Merchant of Venice”  (starring veteran Stratford actor Brian Bedford as Shylock) AND “Tommy”, the rock musical based on The Who’s rock opera.   I saw a ballet set to “Tommy” when I was in high school in Detroit – and am pretty sure I can still sing most of the lyrics to the opera. Actor Brian Dennehy will star in Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” which I haven’t read since high school.  Also on tap: “Romeo and Juliet”  and “Othello.” The NYTimes travel section recently had a story about Stratford and it looks like there’s a lot more there than there was 40-some years ago when I started going to plays there with my parents.

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Filed under Canada, theater, Uncategorized

Whither Shakespeare on the Lawn at the Salisbury House in Des Moines?

During the past few summers, we’ve enjoyed going to see a Shakespeare Play performed by the talented performers involved with the  Repertory Theater of Iowa, staged on the sweeping  lawn of the Salisbury House in Des Moines, with the elegant Tudor mansion as a perfect backdrop.  But this year, it doesn’t appear to be happening. I can’t find any sign of it on the Salisbury House or  Repertory Theater website. Tis a pity.

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Filed under Des Moines, theater

Goodbye Nora/Highlights of DSM Civic Center’s next season

Ephron in New York City, 2010
I am still trying to process the shocking news that Nora Ephron has died – she seemed so young and vibrant, full of life. I sat next to her once at Barney Greengrass, the famous Amsterdam Avenue deli, and it seemed the quintessential Upper West Side experience, eating a bagel with cream cheese and lox with Nora ringside.
Life goes on I guess – but I will miss her essays in particular. I don’t know how many friends I gave “I feel bad about my neck”  but just thinking about it makes me laugh, and now – feel sad.
Now for a complete non sequitor:
I usually try to make it to at least one show at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines each season but next year I may have to go to two shows: (No word yet on when tickets go on sale for non-members.)

– War Horse, which won the 2011 Tony Award for best play, runs from Dec. 11-16, 2012.

– The Book of Mormon, which won nine Tonys in 2011 including best musical, runs from January 24-Feb. 3, 2013

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Filed under Des Moines, New York City, theater

who would’ah thunk it: spotted George Hamilton at Des Moines restaurant

On a Monday night in Des Moines, hard to imagine seeing anybody out for dinner, let alone perpetually tan actor George Hamilton who was dining at a table near us at Alba in the East Village. The director of the Greater Des Moines Civic Center was his host so that was a tip off – apparently the civic center unveiled its next season today and George will be returning in October (unless he’s staying here til then, as if) in La Cage Aux Folles.)

I”m particularly excited about Billy Elliot which will be in DM in June 2012.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Civic Center of Greater Des Moines announce its new 2011-2012 season on Monday night.The schedule includes La Cage Aux Folles, which headed to Iowa direct from Broadway — and stars George Hamilton. Wicked returns to Des Moines. Billy Elliot The Musical also is coming to the Civic Center.


  • Oct 11-16:  La Cage Aux Folles (Staring George Hamilton)
  • Nov. 9- Dec. 4:  Wicked


  • Feb. 7-12:  West Side Story
  • Feb 28-March 4:  Bring It On: The Musical
  • April 24-29:  Memphis
  • May 15-16: Rain: A Tribute To The Beatles
  • June 6-17: Billy Elliot The Musical

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Filed under Des Moines, theater

A little culture to escape the Des Moines winter

The DM Register wisely, thoughtfully, ran a list of upcoming cultural activities that should make it worth leaving the cabin even in subzero weather. On my list:

– Philobolus Dance Theater, the acrobatic contortionists, who will be at the Greater DM Civic Center on Jan. 26, kicking off a first-time (i think) three group dance series. Not my favorite companies but a good start.

– Middle States, an exhibit starting on Jan. 28 at Drake University’s Anderson Gallery of paintings by six contemporary Midwestern artists. Regionalism in the vein of Iowa’s own Grant Wood  and Thomas Hart Benton might not be cutting edge but who cares? I like rural landscapes and small-town street scenes. Always have.

– Anselm Reyle show opening Jan. 28 at the DM Art Center – a high-profile show of an up and coming German artist who does odd things with Mylar foil, mirrors, bits of plastic, LED lights etc. We shall see.

– Next to Normal – the rock musical that won the 2009 Tony at…the Civic Center March 15-20. Cool!

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Filed under dance, Des Moines, museum exhibit, theater

Shakespeare – Stratford (Ont), Ashland (OR), Des Moines

Shakespeare is here, there, everywhere and we’ve seen some of it – unfortunately not in Stratford, Ontario for about ten years. I used to go there a lot as a kid growing up in suburban Detroit and judging from a recent NYTimes review of “Stratford’s” latest season it’s as good as ever with Christopher Plummer, at age 80 no less, among the performers. In March we saw a very modern Hamlet at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland

And on Thursday,  we saw a lively production of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” (a rather silly play methinks) performed by the Repertory Theater of Iowa on the lovely grounds of  Salisbury House, an old English stone and brick mansion in, of all places,  Des Moines that provides a perfect backdrop for a Shakespearean play.  A local tycoon built Salisbury House in the 1920s,  inspired by a visit to the King’s House in Salisbury, England, which dates back to the 13th century according to Wikipedia. (And judging from the pix of Kings House, the Des Moines replica is pretty darned close.) Catch the “Merry Wives” while  (and if) you can – performances through this Sunday…

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Filed under Canada, Des Moines, England and U.K., Oregon, theater