A Nice Surprise

Iowa State Capitol

I drove to Des Moines from Tulsa last Monday. Most of the company took a flight to Iowa but as the only planes that land in Des Moines are tiny fifty-seaters that don’t allow pets in cabin, I rented a car and drove the 460 miles. The drive was actually really easy and uneventful. I arrived in Des Moines around 3:00pm and checked into the Hotel Savery. I ended up with a smaller room than most, but I had a fantastic view of the state capitol, which made me happy.

That evening I wandered over to Java Joe’s – a very cool, comfy coffee shop about two blocks away. Java Joe’s is my kind of spot – it is attached to a small theater and they have live  music most nights of the week. I have definitely become accustomed to the tastes of Starbucks, but there is nothing better than a really great, unique mom-and-pop coffeehouse. I loved it. I spent time there everyday catching up on knitting, blogging and reading.

Java Joe's

Java Joe's

The theater in Des Moines, the Civic Center, is a big, spacious, modern facility. Well, modern meaning 1960’s/70’s modern. I wish I had remembered to taken a picture of the house, but alas, I didn’t. The seating is continental, with no different sections, just 3000 seats tiering up to the heavens. Best of all is the color scheme of the seats – green and blue with a couple of red rows thrown in there for some happy striping. It is quite a sight to behold. Backstage we had tons of room. The dressing rooms were sort of bunker-like, or as I thought when I first saw them, reminiscent of changing rooms at a public pool. But definitely adequate.

The crew, however, were far from adequate. I shouldn’t lump them all into the useless category, though – there were a couple of good carpenters. However, our two local prop guys were so old that Jovon and I were calling them “Gramps” all week, and worse than the age, my stage right guy was also deaf in one ear, and on top of that, could not retain any information. I spent most of the week pulling him around by his shirt as he couldn’t hear me yelling at him and was often about to get run down by someone or something, or miss a cue. Even at the last two performances he still could not remember what he was doing. From talking to Fran, the wardrobe crew there was much the same. Patrick (our Lancelot, Knight of Ni, French Taunter) had a dresser who had been in an accident a number of years ago and who now has a metal plate in his head which causes him to have no short-term memory. Fran had to re-teach him the show every night. 

Speaking of Fran, it was her birthday this week. We had an opening night party at the Court Street Brewery (where they had a Sir Robin ale in honor of us!) and we all embarrassed Fran by singing to her at the top of our lungs at the bar. Hee Hee Hee.

Fran - as we sang Happy Birthday to her

Fran - as we sang Happy Birthday to her

On Wednesday I took a walk over the river to the East Village neighborhood. There are some cute shops and bars over there and a lot of development going on. I think in a year or two it will definitely be the new hip place to live.

Over the weekend there was a farmer’s market on Court Street, which is a block from the theater, and downtown Des Moines’s “restaurant row”. The market was awesome – so much more than just a farmer’s market. There were lots of different vendors – my favorites being of course those selling handmade jewelry. I bought a pair of earrings as a souvenir.

On Saturday I had lunch with Ryan at The Royal Mile, an English pub on 4th Street. I had bangers and mash and a shandy. Yum. I also tried my first Scotch egg at Ryan’s insistence. Very tasty, but heart attack on a plate. I don’t think I will be eating them very often. Essentially it was a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage and deep fried. Not the most low-calorie appetizer!


The Royal Mile Pub

The Royal Mile Pub

The Royal Mile interior

The Royal Mile interior

Sunday night we bade farewell to Kevin Crewell, one of our original male ensemble members. As has become tradition for someone’s final performance, there were definitely shenanigans during the show – key being Cuz, our sound man, riding out in the Trojan rabbit, in just a kilt. While Kevin, as a French guard, and a couple of the other “Frenchies” were doing the scene peeking out of the castle door, Cuz lifted up his kilt inside the rabbit and did a little dance for Kevin in just a g-string. If you know Cuz, you know he is a big dude, so let me tell you, it was quite a sight to behold.
Kevin with his nephew

Kevin with his nephew

After the show, while the crew began load-out, I went up to Karl’s (our company manager) room with Ken, Jovon, Adam, Christopher and Jeff for a couple of cocktails. Karl and Jeff, as our company managers, usually get complimentary rooms at the hotels since they book our housing. At this particular hotel in Des Moines, they were given the two penthouses on the 12th floor – which are the only two rooms on the 12th floor, so you can imagine how big they were. Karl’s room in particular, which was the “presidential suite” (apparently all the U.S. presidents have stayed there) was ridiculously big, with a full dining room and a large outdoor patio. The funny thing about the rooms, though, was that they were probably very chic in the 1960’s, but now the decor came across as “Grandma’s penthouse”. It was very funny. But we did enjoy drinks on the patio overlooking downtown Des Moines.

All in all, I was very impressed with Des Moines. It was a charming little midwestern town, with some very cool, interesting spots. What a nice surprise!

Now we are in St. Paul, Minneapolis, enjoying a three week run. It is nice to be in one place for a couple of weeks and I have some day trips planned which I am looking forward to. Hopefully I will also have some finished knitting projects to show off soon, too!


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