"Art forces you to want to dig deeper," says Tiffany Johnson, Pyramid's newly named producing artistic director. Photo: Jami Milne.


By Christine Riccelli

As Pyramid Theatre Company prepares for its fourth season, the company has announced changes that reflect its impressive growth: Tiffany Johnson has been named producing artistic director, a full-time position she’ll begin Feb. 15. Co-founder Ken-Matt Martin is stepping down as executive director to focus on his new job as producing artistic director of Williamstown Theatre Festival in New York.

Martin, who’s been the public face and spokesperson for the local company even while earning his MFA in directing at Brown University, will still be involved in an advisory capacity. "He can’t
not be hands-on," says Johnson with a laugh. "We’re still a part of his family."

Johnson has been involved with Pyramid since its founding in 2015, serving as artistic director. In her new role, she'll work with newly named managing director Alexis Davis to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of running the company. Currently, they’re preparing for the 2019 season’s two shows: a classic play to be announced in mid-February, and "Too Heavy For Your Pocket," which chronicles the journey of four Freedom Riders and was written by Pyramid co-founder Jiréh Breon Holder, now a writer for NBC-TV in Los Angeles. The plays will be performed on an alternating basis June 7-27 at the Des Moines Civic Center's Stoner Theater.

Johnson and Davis also plan to boost Pyramid’s community outreach, work with other local organizations, and offer educational programs and workshops. Johnson notes that as people like Martin and Holder move on to careers elsewhere, the opportunities for collaboration with national theater groups and professionals increase, serving to strengthen Pyramid even further.

Pyramid "has always had a succession plan," Johnson adds.
"We’ve been training and grooming each other since the beginning. We continue to push each other … and are committed to each other as colleagues, friends and the family we choose."

To learn more about Pyramid and the company’s leadership, read this story from the dsm archives.

A kitchen with wow factor! Homeowners of this midcentury ranch craved something very different than their former white kitchen. Contemporary styled custom cabinets made of bamboo are accented by a bold, colorful floor in a sustainable material. ...
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By Design presents dsmDining —

The secret to the success of this goulash: smoked paprika. If you try it, let us know what you think:


By Wini Moranville

Until recent years, I wasn’t a huge fan of Hungarian goulash; most versions tasted to me like a boring tomatoey beef stew (the paprika quotient didn’t do that much for me). Then I discovered smoked paprika, with its deeper flavor angles, and the dish finally took off. Find smoked paprika at Allspice Culinarium or Trader Joe’s.

Another upgrade I’ve made is to use boneless beef country-style ribs (easily found at Hy-Vee and sometimes Aldi) instead of the usual stew meat for more succulent results.

If you, like me, have been unimpressed by goulash, try my recipe, and I bet you’ll be unimpressed no more.

2 pounds boneless beef country-style ribs  
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons smoked paprika, divided
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
Parsleyed noodles, pureeed potatoes, spaetzle, or soft polenta for serving

  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Rub the beef all over with the salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the paprika. Cut the beef into 1- to 2-inch pieces.

  • Heat the oil over medium-high in a 3- to 4-quart braiser (or use a deep, oven-going skillet or a Dutch oven). Cook the beef in the hot oil until brown on all sides. Remove the beef from the pan and drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.

  • Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion to the pan and cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until the fragrance is released.

  • Add the beef broth, tomato paste, and the remaining 1 tablespoon paprika to the skillet, stirring to combine and to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the meat to the pan. Bring mixture to boiling.

  • Cover the pan and slide it into the oven. Bake for 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours, or until meat is tender. Stir before serving. Serve with parsleyed noodles, pureed potatoes, spaetzle, or soft polenta. Serves 6.

Wini Moranville writes about food, wine and dining for dsm magazine and dsmWeekly. Follow her on Facebook at All Things Food–DSM.

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A rare highlight in the midst of winter: the annual Bravo Awards Gala. The 14th edition is this Saturday.


The annual Bravo Awards Gala—Saturday, Feb. 2, this year—is among Des Moines' premiere social events—elegant wardrobes, fine food, dancing and merrymaking late into the night. More importantly, it is also a showcase for the work Bravo does year-round and recognizes major contributors to its success. Through investments made by 17 local communities, Bravo provides funding to regional arts, culture and heritage nonprofit organizations and programs. That's why we're so happy to see the event sold out once again this year, evidence that Greater Des Moines supports the arts and enjoys a good time. Proceeds from the Gala help offset Bravo’s administrative expenses, allowing more dollars to be invested back into the arts, culture and heritage organizations. Party on, Bravo! Learn more.

The need for mental health services among school-age youths is acute in Iowa, according to the annual report Lifting the Veil.


Next Tuesday, Feb. 5, the Science Center of Iowa will open a traveling exhibit designed to bring attention to mental illness, which afflicts 18 percent of American adults.

"Mental Health: Mind Matters," presented by HealthPartners UnityPoint Health, will use hands-on interactive exhibits and multimedia presentations to help visitors explore mental illness and its prevalence in society. The exhibit will build awareness and understanding by giving visitors the opportunity to see how mental illness has been treated in the past and to better understand what it’s like to live with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Resources also will be available for visitors who want to learn more about their own mental health or support those with mental illness who are close to them.

"As the Science Center of Iowa, we are committed to being a convener for the community, bringing people together around complex science issues to advance their knowledge on critical topics like mental health," notes Curt Simmons, SCI president and CEO. "This unique exhibit will help us understand the realities of mental illness and provide a safe, reflective place to have honest conversationswith our family members, our colleagues, our classmates and our community."

Here at Business Publications Corp., home of dsm magazine, we have produced two annual reports, titled "Lifting the Veil," on mental health issues in Central Iowa. You can find the most recent one on our website by clicking here.

Science Center officials have indicated plans to work with Capital Crossroads to host a series of events that foster awareness and inspire action around mental illness. Watch their websites for details.

Ben Levi Ross as Evan Hansen with the national touring company coming to Des Moines next week. Photo: Matthew Murphy


A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. "Dear Evan Hansen" is a personal and contemporary musical about life and the way we live it.

Currently playing in Seattle and still on Broadway, the 2017 Tony-winning Best Musical comes to the Des Moines Civic Center for a six-day run, Feb. 5-10. The show scored 4.3 on a five-star scale in a sampling of consumer reviews from its recent production in San Francisco. The Washington Post describes it as "one of the most remarkable shows in musical theater history." And the New York Times calls it "a gut-punching, breathtaking knockout of a musical."

"The show is a winner!" according to this critic's review of the Seattle production. And from the San Francisco performances, the San Jose Mercury-News noted in its review, "This tender-hearted show captures the slippery nature of truth in a world driven by likes and clicks."

Des Moines performances begin at 7:30 p.m. nightly with matinees on the weekend. Ticket prices range from $40 to $220. Tickets are available from the Civic Center box office or online at

The game is afoot on the murky, moonlit moors of Devonshire, in the comic "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery." Mystery No. 1: That's Holmes, on the left.


Murder is seldom a subject of laughter, but "Ken Ludwig's Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery" presents a comic take on Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle's 1902 novella "The Hound of the Baskervilles." Not only is the once eerie tale now a comedy at the Des Moines Community Playhouse, but 40 characters are played by just five actors, and Sherlock is deftly portrayed by Patricia Holly, most definitely not the dour and pensive detective imagined by Sir Arthur.

Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through Feb. 10. In addition to Holly, the cast includes Michael Fox, Jenner Lathrop, Lorenzo Sandoval and Kerrie Lee. Ticket prices range from $29 to $37 at the Playhouse box office or online by clicking here.

Memphis-bred Eric Gales started his blues career as a child prodigy. He'll perform in Des Moines this weekend.


Twenty acts are scheduled for the Central Iowa Blues Society's 25th annual Winter Blues Fest this Friday and Saturday, Feb. 1 and 2 at the downtown Marriott. Performers range from nationally known artists like Watermelon Slim and Kevin Burt to solid local acts such as the Soul Searchers and the Ducharme-Jones Band.

Tickets are $45 for a weekend pass in advance. Single-day advance tickets are $20 for Friday and $30 for Saturday. Admission prices at the door are $5 higher. Simultaneous performances are scheduled both days in three areas of the hotel, with performers playing 90-minute sets.

For the complete schedule, a list of performers and online ticket sales, click here.
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