March 21, 2017
Wherefore art thou, singers and dancers? Des Moines Performing Arts kicks off its next series of Broadway shows with "Something Rotten," winner of 10 Tony awards for its fanciful imagining of the first-ever stage musical competing with Shakespeare in the 16th century.
All the Hamilton hullabaloo (it's just 15 breathless months away, you know!) has overshadowed recent news of a lot of other fine theater headed our way. These are shows we're eagerly anticipating:

Just this past Saturday, the newly formed Iowa Stage Theatre Company (a union of StageWest and Repertory Theater of Iowa) announced its 2017-18 season including Stephen Sondheim's "Company" and a dramatic examination of a faith community in "The Christians" by Lucas Hnath. A highlight for us will be a revival of the tense drama "A View From the Bridge" by Arthur Miller. For more info on the company and its upcoming shows, click here.

Des Moines Community Playhouse announced a solid 2017-18 season last month, with favorites "The Music Man," "A Chorus Line" and "Ragtime." We're excited by the October debut of a new romantic comedy, "Choices," by local playwright Karen Schaefer, whose first play, the romcom "Girls' Weekend," was well received at the Playhouse in 2014.

This July and August, Pyramid Theatre Company is producing James Baldwin's "The Amen Corner"
as well as the challenging drama "Mississippi ..." by Jonathan Norton, portraying tensions among families and friends prior to the slaying of Civil Rights martyr Medgar Evers in 1963. Learn more here.

And yesterday, Des Moines Performing Arts had so many new shows to announce (and all the "Hamilton" frenzy to deal with), they switched from their traditional season-announcement event at the Civic Center to a YouTube video production. "We thought it was the best way to share the news with the biggest audience," explained Jonathan Brendemuehl, communications manager. They taped the top-secret presentation, hosted by CEO Jeff Chelesvig, over recent weeks. When it aired yesterday, Chelesvig was actually doing theatrical hobnobbing in New York.

"Hamilton" has earned the attention it gets, of course, and the return of favorites "Chicago" and "Les Miserables" is exciting news, but we're most intrigued by the season's inclusion of "The Humans," which received the 2016 Tony Award for best drama on Broadway. Everything we've heard and read about it has us looking forward to that production. The full DMPA schedule and ticket info are here

A custom murphy bed with integrated collapsible desks and a custom entertainment center. See these and more of the touches making this basement remodel into a fun, functional space both guests and children will enjoy. ... 

Burgers -- including this one with bleu cheese, pickled red onions, smoked tomato, and Sriracha aioli -- are just $6 on Sunday evenings at Americana. Ordered here without the bun, it was served on a bed of  Boston bibb lettuce.
By Wini Moranville

I always strive to get three nights out of every weekend, not just two, which means I do what I can to make Sunday nights count. Recently, I came upon a new way to do so: Six-Dollar Burger Night at Americana.
Every Sunday, from 3 to 10 p.m., the restaurant's six incomparable burgers -- normally priced $11 to $13.50 at lunch and $14.50 to $15 at dinner -- go for $6 each. And make no mistake: Executive Chef Dan Warren assured me that they're not stinting on this special.
"It's not a smaller or altered burger," he said, "but our regular menu-sized burgers for basically half price with a side included. Pretty hard deal to beat!"
While you can order a simple Backyard Burger (with lettuce, tomato, onion), I'm not sure why you would, when the signature creations are equally up for grabs. These include the Boursin Burger (with Boursin, tomato bruschetta and sautéed mushrooms) and the Rise & Shine Burger (rubbed with espresso and topped with hickory smoked bacon, white cheddar and maple-Dijon mustard).
I chose the Bleu Burger, which brought infinitely more than blue cheese and included pickled red onions, smoked tomato, and Sriracha aioli. The best part? I forewent the bun, and it arrived on a bed of cushiony Boston bibb lettuce. Honestly, I felt as happy and indulged as if I had been eating a filet mignon. With that and a glass of wine, I can think of no better way to ease out of the weekend.

Americana is at 1312 Locust St., 515- 283-1312;
Billy Collins has a way of looking at things. Photo: Suzannah Gilman
It's more verses than versus when two poets trade lines on a Drake University stage next week. In this corner, we have Billy Collins, America's poet laureate from 2001 to 2003. And in that corner is Clint Smith, winner of the 2014 National Poetry Slam.

As the latest speakers in the Bucksbaum lecture series, they will deliver back-to-back readings before answering questions from the audience. Their presentation will begin at 7 p.m. Monday, March 27, in the Knapp Center, 2525 Forest Ave. It can be seen live at 

Collins has published more than a dozen collections of poetry since 1977. His work has been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and The American Scholar. 

In addition to being a poetry slam champion, Smith has presented two TED Talks, has published a debut collection of poetry and has been featured in The New Yorker, The Guardian and American Poetry Review. 

As with all Bucksbaum lectures, no tickets or reservations are needed; free has a nice poetic quality. 
Clint Smith slams poetry and delivers a mean TED Talk.
Colorful and touching -- a scene from a past production of Shakuntala by Gateway Dance Theatre.
Gateway Dance Theatre will present a free production of " Shakuntala," a love story from India, next Tuesday, March 28 at 7 p.m. The show is part of StageWest's Scriptease series at Des Moines' First Unitarian Church, 1800 Bell Ave.                 
A play with dance, "Shakuntala" was written by India's revered poet and playwright, Kalidasa.  Although admission is free, organizers suggest a donation of $5. This is a full theater production, differing from the Scriptease tradition of play readings. 
Funky Finds Vintage & Retro on 18th Street is a treasury of midcentury items -- the source of a table and chairs in our office.  
Most things described as "vintage" are older, but Vintage in the City, a retail celebration of the word, presents its fifth annual iteration this Saturday, March 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The fun is spread among 11 businesses that love repurposing, reclaiming and sharing their one-of-a-kind finds. You'll find in-store specials, refreshments and unique finds at West End Architectural Salvage, Found Things, Vintage No. 35, Hinge, Preservation, Funky Finds, CK Design Co., Hank's Fuzzy Guitars, Reclaimed, Porch Light and Raccoon River Fork Trading Co. We'll be there too. 
We're guessing the one with no glass is the designated driver, and she seems every bit as happy as the rest.
OK, you have more than 150 amazing craft beers and three hours to try them. You do the math. We wouldn't list this if we didn't have confidence in you -- and Uber. The second annual Des Moines on Tap, a festival of craft beer, is Saturday, March 25, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Iowa Events Center. It's all there, from Blue Moon to Moose Drool Brown Ale, from the locals to the legends of brewing. And of course there's food and music. Prices range from $45 to a $60 VIP ticket that buys you extra time. All the beers, ticketing and other info are available here


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