He's back, this time set against a Coney Island backdrop in Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to "The Phantom of the Opera."


For its 40th anniversary season, Des Moines Performing Arts this morning announced its 2018-19 series of touring Broadway shows, including a double dip of Andrew Lloyd Webber. The six-show season ticket package includes:  
    • Andrew Lloyd Webber’s "Love Never Dies," Oct. 16–21
    • Disney’s "Aladdin," Nov. 28–Dec. 9
    • "Dear Evan Hansen," Feb. 5–10, 2019
    • "Hello, Dolly!" April 9–14, 2019
    • Webber’s "School of Rock—The Musical,"  April 30–May 5, 2019
    • "The Play That Goes Wrong," June 25–30, 2019

These additional productions are not included in the season ticket package:
    • "Finding Neverland: The Musical," Dec. 27–29
    • Jim Steinman’s "Bat Out of Hell: The Musical," Feb. 26–March 3, 2019
    • "Rock of Ages," March 8–10, 2019
    Brian Stokes Mitchell and Megan Hilty in concert with the Des Moines Symphony, May 11, 2019

For show details and ticket information, visit

A new kitchen, sunroom and staircase for a historic home
Historic homes require special expertise to renovate in a way that honors original architecture and extends functionality for generations to come. See how Silent Rivers approached a substantial remodel and addition to this century-old Colonial home... Read more »

By Design presents dsmDining —

Chef Jacob Demars is taking his distinctive cuisine on a new adventure, with intimate pop-up meals in unexpected places.


By Wini Moranville

When Marlene’s at Sevastapol Station closed in February, quite a few food enthusiasts lamented on my All Things Food DSM Facebook page that they hadn’t had a chance to try a tasting menu created by chef Jacob Demars.

Well, folks, now’s your chance. Demars will begin hosting pop-up dinners later this spring as a continuation of Open Circuit, a dining series he produced while living in Chicago. The first two Des Moines-area dinners have been scheduled for May 7 and May 21, from 6:45 to 9 p.m., and will be held at the Yellow Door Gallery, an art gallery and performance space in a ranch home on Des Moines’ south side. The cost is $85 per person, including tax but exclusive of gratuity. It’s a BYOB affair, with no corkage fee. Moving forward, Demars plans to offer about two events per month, in locations to be determined.

Yes, the May dates seem a long way off, but keep in mind that a very limited number of tickets will be sold.
"Open Circuit dinners have always been limited to 12 diners,"  Demars says. "That way, we can focus on doing more artistic plates and offering better service."

What’s for dinner? You likely realize by now that with seasonally driven, farm-to-table, highly imaginative chef-driven New American cuisine, the menu will not be available this far in advance. Let’s just say that if a dish of truffle asparagus, arugula, warm pear, pecorino and coconut milk sounds like your kind of fare, this might be your kind of dinner. You can also check out a menu from past Open Circuit dinners for a hint of the style of dining to expect.

Tickets are available via Yellow Door Gallery is at 2121 Wakonda Drive. For more information, contact

Current Passion: Rich, Colorful Pieces
We love the bold, dramatic pieces we’re seeing this year in upholstery, rugs, and artwork. These upholstered pieces make such an impact in these pretty rooms. Quite often, you’ll see these sofas and chairs upholstered in a velvet fabric because the colors look so rich and pretty in this fabric. ...
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Richard Thomas, Pamela Reed, Daisy Eagan, Luis Vega and Therese Plaehn in "The Humans." (Photo: Julieta Cervantes)

By Michael Morain

While the actor Luis Vega set out last fall on the national tour of "The Humans," a play about a family in the midst several personal storms, his real family was in Puerto Rico, slogging through the all-too-real aftermath of Hurricane Maria. He kept in touch over the phone, when it worked, and thought of them often.

"My brother came to see the show here in Boston, and it was great to share this with him," Vega said last week over the phone, "but we couldn’t help but think about our own family."

Turns out, they aren’t alone. Most audiences see their own families reflected in the play, Vega said, no matter what particular storms they weather. He expects Iowans will respond the same way when the tour visits the Des Moines Civic Center April 3-8.

"It’s all about the individual struggles we go through and the power and the strength that family gives us to persevere," the actor said.

The play by Stephen Karam won four Tonys in 2016 and probably would have scored a Pulitzer, too, were it not for a little show called "Hamilton." It’s about a Pennsylvania man named Erik Blake (Richard Thomas from "The Waltons") who gathers his Irish-Catholic family to celebrate Thanksgiving in the shabby, barely furnished New York City apartment that his youngest daughter shares with her boyfriend (played by Vega).

As the 90-minute show unfolds in real time, members of the Blake clan quietly reveal the fears they are struggling to overcome. The younger daughter might have to ditch her dream to become a musician. Her older sister just broke up with her girlfriend and is facing a scary medical ordeal. Their parents have money problems they can no longer hide and are worn out from taking care of Erik’s mother, old Momo, who is lost in an Alzheimer’s fog.

The sisters are just stepping into adulthood. Their parents are trying to pass on their wisdom and faith in a way their kids won’t reject.

"It’s funny, too," Vega said. "If you’ve ever sat down for a family meal, it’s going to ring true to you."

The actors sat down for a meal of their own this past Thanksgiving, when the tour was in Seattle. They gathered at a restaurant that offered a buffet with turkey and all the trimmings."We eat real food onstage, so that was the last thing we wanted to eat on Thanksgiving," he said. "But it was nice to get together, actually. We’ve become a family, too."

"The Humans" runs April 3-8 at the Des Moines Civic Center. $35-$112;

Personal sketchbooks from Ding Darling's travels are among the treasures saved from more than a century ago.


A new exhibition at Drake University examines the life and work of Jay N. "Ding" Darling, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist and environmental conservationist.

"We Knew Him When: An Exhibit on Jay N. Darling" features a rare and extensive collection of personal artifacts, sketches and memorabilia. The exhibition runs through May 31 in Drake University’s Cowles Library, 2725 University Ave.

The exhibit was curated by Sam Koltinsky, director of the Jay N. Darling Center in Des Moines. The exhibit will be complemented by a series of panel discussions by journalists, historians, conservationists and scholars.

"This is the most comprehensive exhibition of Darling artifacts and artwork that we’ve ever hosted, offering a glimpse of Darling’s life from childhood to his college years and throughout his career," Koltinsky says. Read more about Koltinsky and the Darling Center in this recent article from dsm magazine.

Three free special events coincide with the Drake exhibit; for details visit

The legacy of passionate conductor/composer Leonard Bernstein will be featured in the Des Moines Symphony's 81st season.


In its 81st season, the Des Moines Symphony celebrates conductor Joseph Giunta's 30th anniversary and the 100th birthday of legendary composer Leonard Bernstein. From "On the Town" to "West Side Story," "Candid" to "Chichester Psalms," Bernstein’s creative energy will be featured throughout the season. 

The 2018-2019 Masterworks season:

And the Pops season:

Subscriptions may be purchased online, by calling 515-246-2300 or in person at the Civic Center box office. Single tickets will go on sale Aug. 1.


Got a head full of trivia? Here's your chance to turn it loose. The Des Moines Public Library Foundation will host Trivia Smackdown April 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Noce, 1326 Walnut St.

You don't have to know the answers to be a winner: In addition to first place, prizes are also awarded for the best team name, the worst answer and for the team that places dead last (seems like an easy enough goal). Or if you want to rely on sheer luck, door prizes are also planned.

The cost is $150 for teams of up to six members. For additional information or to register, visit or contact Dory Briles: 515-284-6402 or
Proceeds will support programming and services provided by the Des Moines Public Libraries.


More than 400 young singers will participate in the Heartland Youth Choir's 11th annual Meet the Composer Festival at Plymouth Congregational Church April 6 and 7.

The featured artist, local composer Elaine Hagenberg (pictured, right), has written a composition for the festival that's a salute to Iowa and to the 15th anniversary of the choir. Hagenberg, who is an accomplished choral composer and teaches music at Des Moines Christian, will give a free presentation this evening (Tuesday, March 27) at Noce to discuss the festival and her compositions, which have been performed around the world.

On Friday, high school and college choirs will present a concert at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, singers in grades 4-8 from a variety of schools will perform  at 3:30 p.m. Tickets for the concerts are $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors.

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