"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings." At least, that's how it works in charmingly fictional Bedford Falls. Kim Haymes is the wing-dinger for Iowa Stage Theatre Company's radio-style production of "It's a Wonderful Life." Photo: Joe Crimmings.

By Michael Morain

Note to wingless angels: Buddy up to Kim Haymes. She’s in charge of the bell.

It’s one of 30-some gadgets and doodads she’ll use for sound effects when Iowa Stage Theatre opens an old-fashioned radio version of "It’s a Wonderful Life" this Friday, Nov. 16, at the Des Moines Social Club. She’ll slam a car door (an old movie-reel canister), toss people into a river (a fake peach into a bucket of water) and walk across freshly fallen snow (shoes on a tray of Frosted Flakes).

While a few real snowflakes fell before a recent rehearsal in the company’s space downtown on 11th Street, the show’s cast and crew swept in the front door carrying scattered elements of imaginary weather. Someone brought a pair of metal sheets to simulate thunder. Someone else spun a hand-cranked wind machinea bolt of canvas wrapped around a wooden cylinderalthough props master Rebel Clodi decided Haymes sounded more windy simply by whistle-blowing into a glass.

Director John Graham has always wanted to do a radio play, where the actors stand in place on a spare stage. He’s especially eager to direct this one, because he remembers watching the classic 1946 movie when he was growing up.

The story about an angel who persuades George Bailey not to kill himself on Christmas Eve resonates with folks because "a lot of us don’t really understand the positive impact we have on those around us," Graham says. "We usually don’t tell people how much they mean to us. That only happens when somebody dies, at the funeral, but George gets a second chance."

When the good people of Bedford Falls raise a toast to George at the end of the night, Haymes gets to pop a cork. She lobbied for Champagne but may have to settle for seltzer water or "a big bottle of cheap Sprite," stage manager Lauren Dursky says.

With a little radio magic, nobody will ever know.

"It’s a Wonderful Life" runs Nov. 16 through Nov. 25 at the Des Moines Social Club, followed by the company’s annual staging of "A Christmas Carol," Dec. 14-23. $35-$40 for adults, $30-$35 for seniors, and $20 for students.

In other old-time radio news ... The Des Moines Symphony plans to re-create the famous 1943 live radio broadcast that made a 25-year-old Leonard Bernstein an overnight star. He stepped in as a last-minute replacement to conduct the New York Philharmonic through an ambitious program of Schuman, Rosza, Strauss and Wagner at Carnegie Hall and, by all accounts, dazzled everybody who heard it. Bernstein continues to dazzle Des Moines' own maestro Joseph Giunta. Read his account in this story from dsm magazine.

The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and repeats at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Des Moines Civic Center. $15-$68, with student discounts.

Previously clad with black granite, these homeowners now warm up to a fireplace boasting recycled barn wood accented with stepped birch shelves. The look complements the out-of-the-box design ideas incorporated into their overall loft remodel. ...
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By Design presents dsmDining —

Chefs from the Loire Valley return again this week to teach and share insights with lovers of French cuisine.

By Wini Moranville

Each year for more than 20 years, selected young chefs from France’s Loire Valley have landed in Iowa to teach French cuisine for two weeks in the culinary arts program at Des Moines Area Community College. And each year, there’s a culinary gathering to celebrate their visit and showcase their work.

For this year’s event, Friday, Nov. 16titled "Porc and Pinot"the chefs will highlight cinta senese pork (a rare breed of heirloom pork from the Tuscan region of Italy), cured meats from La Quercia as well as pork from Iowa’s Berkwood Farms. Tastes of these products will be offered at charcuterie, carving and sauté stations throughout the evening. In addition, the two young French chefswho won a rigorous competition that brings them to Des Moineswill offer a cooking demonstration using the featured products.

The event also will include a tasting of wines from Balletto Vineyards, a family-owned estate winery in California’s Russian River Valley. Owner John Balletto and winemaker Anthony Beckman will be on hand to present a rare taste of their "Burnside Road" pinot noir.

With music performed by Tanner Taylor, the event lasts from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the River Center (340 S.W. Third St., 515-330-1517; Tickets, along with more information on the evening’s festivities, are available at MidwestTix. The 21-and-over event costs $60 per person in advance or $75 at the door; a portion of the proceeds goes to support CultureAll, which promotes diverse cultural programming in Central Iowa, and to the Association des Cuisiniers de la Loire, the French chef’s organization that sends these young chefs our way.


All the sparkle without all the snow—that's the promise as Holiday Promenade returns to the East Village Friday.


We're encouraged by an improved forecast for Friday, opening night of the always charming Holiday Promenade in the East Village. It's always such fun to saunter among shops and greet friends along the sidewalks under twinkling lights. And so much nicer when it isn't freezing! So we plan to savor this year's Promenade, which opens from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and continues 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday—a first-time expansion of the 17-year-old event.

Friday's activities include free horse-drawn trolley rides and strolling carolers, plus skating, ice sculpting and tree lighting at the newly reopened Brenton Skating Plaza starting at 6 p.m. Santa will be there from 6 to 7 p.m., when he'll move to LifeServe Blood Center until 8 p.m. The evening closes with fireworks at 9 p.m.

"Lacy Snowflake Iris," a pastel work by Mary Muller, one of the artists whose work is featured at the Polk County Heritage Gallery.


Polk County Heritage Gallery downtown is the site of the 25th edition of the annual exhibit, "Greater Des Moines Exhibited," a juried show featuring local artists. The exhibition, which is now open, continues through Jan. 19. Best of Show and other cash awards will be announced at a reception from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2.

Jurist for this year's show is Liz Lidgett of Liz Lidgett Fine Art. Artists selected are Penny Adam, Kay Arnold, Dina Bechman, Ramsundar Bridgemohan-Higgins, Sara Carlson, Susan Colby, Mary Cummings, Pamela Douglas, Maggie Douglas, Cherie Ferriss, Colleen Gleason, Alice Guerrero, Sue Heemstra, Michael Hiatt, Pam Hibbs, Christine Hilbert, Gary Hoff, Caryn Kepford, Jeff Kilsares, Lance Kinseth, Spivey Knapic, Leslie Leavenworth, Jon Lemons, Fan-Kai Lin, Diane Michaud Lowry, Pat Millin, Mary Muller, Emily Newman, Amy Putney-Koening, Patricia Reeves, Phil Roeder, Sue Rush, Sarah Schroeder, Lindsay Schuling Cooper, Kathleen Simmons, Josh Sorrell, Jeanine Strodtman, Laura Travnicek, Melissa Tullis, Amy Uthus, Michael Van Dyke, Michael Watson, Steven Winkelman and Mark True.

You know it's a winning recipe when ingredients include a cozy environment, charming company, bright champagne and rich chocolate.


Don't waste a lot of time thinking about this one: You have until tomorrow (Nov. 14) to reserve your place at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden's annual Champagne and Chocolate event, 6-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16. This annual holiday exhibition and cocktail party features the elegance of hundreds of amaryllis, paperwhites, hellebores and an array of favorite holiday flowers. Add musicians and a chocolate buffet for a sweet holiday tradition. Tickets are $90 for members, $100 for others (and $60 for young professionals age 35 and under) with valet parking included. Get tickets and more information here.

Expect to see interesting things and meet fun people at the Barnum Factory open house Thursday.


An open house event this week marks the one-year anniversary of the Barnum Factory, the onetime paint producer that has become the 55,000-square-foot home of diverse creative enterprises—from artists' studios to a brilliantly ghoulish Halloween haunted house.  

"This first year was filled with excitement and horror," says co-founder Breanne Barnum. "We quickly discovered Des Moines has a significant pent-up need for space for creatives. ... Join us as we showcase their work and celebrate our mutual successes."

Occupants of the building at 97 Indiana Ave. will welcome visitors with studio tours, refreshments and light hors d’oeuvres between 4 and 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15.

From salsa to Santa, you'll find something of interest at the Downtown Winter Farmers' Market Friday and Saturday.


You can't keep a good market down, but you can chase it indoors. So get your farmers market fix afresh this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16 and 17, as more than 130 vendors reappear from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Capital Square and Kaleidoscope at the Hub. They'll return again on the same schedule Dec. 14-15.

The Downtown Winter Farmers’ Market will have farmers selling locally raised products such as eggs and cheese, beef, pork, duck, and holiday hams, as well as late-season and greenhouse produce. It also promises an abundance of fresh handmade products, including locally produced honey, jams, salsa, wine and more. Looking for a little holiday flair? Expect to find poinsettias, fresh-cut Christmas trees, wreaths, handmade holiday ornaments and home decorations. For a little extra holiday spirit, musicians are scheduled at both sites. 

Composer and hornmaster James Pankow is among four remaining original members of Chicago, coming to Des Moines in May.


Des Moines Performing Arts has announced that tickets go on sale this week for a May performance by the legendary ensemble Chicago, which made its debut in 1967 and has become one of the longest-running and best-selling groups of all time. 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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