Don't try to count the costumes and turbans when "Aladdin" takes the stage at the Civic Center Wednesday through Dec. 9.


By Michael Morain

I love a parade song as much as the next guy, but it might be time to rein in the lyrics. The inflation rate is out of control.

A mere "handful of vets" and "a line of cadets" in "I Love a Parade" (1931) were followed by 76 trombones and 110 cornets in "The Music Man" (1957). By the time Prince Ali marched across the big screen in "Aladdin" (1992), he arrived with 95 Persian monkeys, 75 golden camels, 53 purple peacocks, 60 elephants, "40 fakirs, his cooks, his bakers" and countless "birds that warble on key."

It took at least as many Disney animators to keep up with the lyricists and Robin Williams’ big blue genie.

In the stage version, which opens Wednesday at the Des Moines Civic Center, much of the requisite magic comes from the costume designer, Gregg Barnes. When he told the props team they needed backstage pegs for 80 turbans, he had to clarify: There are 80 turbans just in Prince Ali’s parade. Three times as many show up throughout the whole show.

"The point is to make it look like an endless parade," he says of Ali’s second-act opener, when 20 actors change costumes four times in three minutes. "I just love the energy of it."

Barnes won two Tony Awards, for "The Drowsy Chaperone" in 2006 and "Follies" in 2012, and has designed costumes for shows as varied as "Something Rotten" and "Kinky Boots." But in terms of sheer spectacle, he says, " ‘Aladdin’ is certainly in the top three"including his designs for the circus and the high-kicking Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

In all, the "Aladdin" cast wears 337 costumes that were based on 134 individual designs, some of which took Barnes six hours to sketch and paint. More than 340 people in 26 specialty shops (tailors, milliners, painters, etc.) used 2,039 materials and fabrics from China, England, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Tahiti, Turkey and Uzbekistan.One of Princess Jasmine’s dresses shimmers with 12 pounds of Swarovski crystal beads.

"When you add up all the hours, I wonder, ‘How did we do that?’ " Barnes says.

During his research, he gathered ideas from various sources and tucked them into folders: Islamic architecture, Victorian Orientalist painting, Hollywood kitsch, "Dancing With the Stars," belly dancingeven M.C. Hammer and his famous baggy pants.

He researched Persian rugs, too, but didn’t spill any secrets about the show’s magic carpet. He made that mistake once during a backstage tour on Broadway before an actor scolded him: "Are you crazy? What are you doing? The genie makes the carpet fly."

Over the phone the other day from his apartment in New York, Barnes mentioned that he had designed the costumes for the new musical "Mean Girls," whose cast performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

He loves a parade, tooat a distance. He watched it on TV.

"I’m not that brave to go out in the cold."

"Aladdin" runs Nov. 28 through Dec. 9 at the Des Moines Civic Center. $40-$150;

Before downtown condos were abundant and Gateway Market even existed, Silent Rivers had the vision to create a penthouse on the top floor of an historic Sherman Hill building that is now a perfect location. See the award-winning result. ...
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By Design presents dsmDining —

Sugarplums bakery will be back for this year's European-style Christmas market with gingerbreads and other seasonal treats.

By Wini Moranville

The Christkindlemarket Des Moines continues to grow. Now in its third year, the European-inspired holiday market and street fair runs Friday through Sunday at Cowles Commons downtown and features music and dance performances, kids’ activities and food and craft vendors; in fact, the roster has swelled from 24 vendors in 2017 to 33 this year, and the event’s will expand from Cowles Commons into Walnut Street.

When she founded the market, Suzanne Hull’s goal was to offer not only the sights and sounds of Christmas, but also the smells and tastes of yuletide, too. The 16 food and drink stalls help do the trick. Highlights include:

  • Glühwein: Clearly, Des Moines likes its glühwein (mulled wine)due to its popularity, there will now be three stations offering the wine instead of just one.

  • St. Nick’s Christkindlbier: Confluence Brewing will unveil this seasonal spiced beer at 4 p.m. this Friday at the market.

  • Holiday Treats from Sugarplums Cakes and Confections: The Altoona-based company will be selling scratch-made Christmas-inspired baked goods, including gingerbread houses, lebkuchen, pfeffernuss, spritz, sugar cookies and gluten-free scotch-a-roo Santas.

  • Roasted Nuts: It’s nearly impossible to walk by Top of the Hill Nuts and not grab a bag of roasty-toasty warm and sweet nuts. The smells are intoxicating.

  • Northern European Comfort Food: Iowa Machine Shed will be selling reibekuchen (potato fritters), Swedish meatballs, mushroom crostini and apple dumplings.

Also look for pizza from Parlo Pizza, strudel and pretzels from Minnesota-based Ruhland’s Strudel Haus, British pub favorites from Mucky Duck Pub in Ames, Bratwurst from Usinger’s of Wisconsin, caramelized cheese from Brunkow Cheese of Wisconsin and more.

For a full list of vendors and activities, plus the hours, go to

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

I really am proud of our fabric wall. It is the heart of our custom upholstery and custom bed stories. I think this huge fabric wall is crucial to you when designing custom furniture. Here’s why:


OK, you scored with Black Friday, spent even more on Cyber Monday, now what's your plan for Giving Tuesday? Here at dsm magazine, one of our core missions is to support philanthropy and local nonprofit organizations. We promote opportunities and celebrate the success of local fundraising events. So we hope you'll join us today in thinking seriously about making a gift to a cause or to groups you believe in. It'll make you feel even better than those awesome Black Friday buys.

Check out three of Des Moines' most impressive buildings in holiday trim, including the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, above.


Expand your world this holiday season by venturing into some grand and festive environments:

• World Food Prize Hall of Laureates Open House: Free, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday, Dec. 15, enjoy holiday music as well as the artwork and exhibits.

• Terrace Hill Open House: The governor's home,  decorated for the season, will be open to visitors Saturday, Dec. 1, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It's free, including refreshments and enjoying music from the 1869 piano. No need to check in at the Carriage House; you can go straight to the north door.

• Salisbury House Holly & Ivy home tour: Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, the grand manor at 4025 Tonawanda Drive will be decked out for the holidays. The Holly & Ivy tour includes visits to three elegant homes, too. For prices, hours and other details, click here

Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey perform Saturday at Hoyt Sherman Place.


It's not too late; tickets are still available to hear Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey this Saturday, Dec. 1, at Hoyt Sherman Place. We've enjoyed them before, reviving the sound of renowned folk music group Peter, Paul and Marya union that lasted 50 years. Tickets are $50-$75 and can be purchased here.

That trio, with the late Mary Travers, sprang from Greenwich Village in the early 1960s, stirring folk music's potency as a social, cultural and political force. During their legendary career, the trio won five Grammy awards, produced 13 Top 40 hits and earned eight gold and five platinum albums.

Two things you can count on when Rodney Carrington comes to town: 1) You'll laugh. 2) He'll wear a hat.


Just announced: Comedian Rodney Carrington will perform at Hoyt Sherman Place Friday, March 1. Tickets go on sale this Friday, Nov. 30, at 10 a.m. For other fun opportunities, explore a pair of easy-to-use online calendars. We at dsm magazine and the Business Record maintain this calendar with handy filters so you can see just the types of events you're searching for. For even more categories, check Catch Des Moines.

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