Several new productions are opening in Eastern Iowa this week, including the return of a theater group that has been on hiatus for three years.
A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Friday (4/20) to April 29 @ Iowa City Community Theatre
In this musical by Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally (“Ragtime,” “The Full Monty”), Alfie Byrne is an Oscar Wilde-loving bus driver in 1960s Dublin. His passion is directing an amateur group of thespians called the St. Imelda’s Players. The dedicated performers are determined to stage the controversial “Salome” at their local church. However, the play’s racy subject matter angers church authorities. In the process of fighting for the play, Byrne is finally forced to confront his own homosexuality. Times: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; Exhibit Hall A, Johnson County Fairgrounds, 4261 Oak Crest Hill Rd., Iowa City. Tickets: $11 to $19, door or Iowacitycommunitytheatre.org
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Friday (4/20) to April 28 @ University of Iowa, Iowa City
The University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts presents Shakespeare’s comic tale of love lost and found, warts and all: Love at first sight, innocent love, love twisted by the mind, by lust, by jealousy, by a marriage on the rocks, and love that is thrown into chaos by a mischievous fairy’s mistake. Times: 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; E.C. Mabie Theatre, UI Theatre Building, 200 N. Riverside Dr., Iowa City. Tickets: $5 to $20, Hancher Box Office, (319) 335-1160, 1-(800) HANCHER or Hancher.uiowa.edu/tickets
Friday (4/20) to April 29 @ Coggon Opera House
After a three-year hiatus, the Coggon Opera House Theater Group returns to the stage with “Drinking Habits.” Accusations, mistaken identities and romances run wild in this farce. Two nuns at The Sisters of Perpetual Sewing have been secretly making wine to keep the convent’s doors open, but undercover reporters are hot on their trail. Their presence, combined with the addition of a new nun, spurs paranoia throughout the convent that spies have been sent from Rome to shut them down. Wine and secrets are inevitably spilled as everyone tries to preserve the convent and reconnect with lost loves. Times: 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; Coggon Opera House, 209 E. Main St., Coggon. Tickets: $15 general admission, door or (319) 435-2353 after 6 p.m.
HANDMADE PUPPET DREAMS
Friday (4/20) @ Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre, West Liberty
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This series of short puppet films was collected and curated by Heather Henson, Jim Henson’s daughter. This event is part of Owl Glass Puppetry Center’s annual Adult Series, presenting cutting-edge pieces directed toward adults, but also appropriate for teens. Heather Henson introduces independent filmmakers and puppeteers who explore their craft specifically for the camera. Also, Eulenspiegel will be showing a special collection for Earth Day, one of several not yet seen at Owl Glass Puppetry Center. It features many styles of puppetry, including hand puppets, shadow puppets, marionettes, object theater and more. Time: 8 p.m. Friday; Owl Glass Puppetry Center, 319 N. Calhoun St., West Liberty. Tickets: $6; for reservations, call (319) 627-2487 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To Sunday (4/22) @ Des Moines Civic Center
Cameron Mackintosh presents the new production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s Tony Award-winning musical, “Les Miserables,” direct from its two-and-a-half-year return to Broadway. Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, “Les Miserables” tells a story of heartbreak, passion and the resilience of the human spirit, with such beloved songs as “I Dreamed A Dream,” “On My Own,” “Stars,” “Bring Him Home” and “One Day More.” The production features new staging and re-imagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. Times: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday; Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St. Tickets: $45 to $140, Civic Center Box Office, (515) 246-2300 or Desmoinesperformingarts.org/events/les-miserables/
THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
Friday (4/20) to April 28 @ RHCR Theatre, Cedar Rapids
The wealthy and well-established Lord family of Philadelphia is about to welcome the cream of society into their home for the second wedding of Tracy Lord, vibrant daughter of the house, to George Kittredge, a self-made coal mine manager — much to the annoyance of little sister Dinah, big brother Sandy, and ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven, none of whom believe George is good enough for her. Times: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, April 20, 21, 26 to 28; Studio Reserved, 1200 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. Tickets: $15 to $18, Rhcrtheatre.wixsite.com/rhcrtheatre; American Sign Language interpreter April 21.
Today (4/19) to Saturday (4/21) @ Playtime Poppy, Cedar Rapids
On the outskirts of town stands a ramshackle house. There’s a horse on the porch, a monkey in the kitchen and a freckle faced, red-pigtailed, whirlwind of a girl in mismatched stockings presiding over all. Pippi swallows her fears of not knowing any of the rules of etiquette and goes to a fancy party, where she learns a hard lesson that even fun can go too far. Times: 5 p.m. Thursday, 5 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday; Washington High School, 2205 Forest Dr. SE, Cedar Rapids. Tickets: $4, door; American Sign Language interpreter 5 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday.
EARS ON A BEATLE
To April 29 @ Riverside Theatre, Iowa City
Mark St. Germain’s play is based on actual FBI documents declassified through the Freedom of Information Act. Filled with humor and heartbreak, “Ears on a Beatle” explores a time when the country was sharply divided by an unpopular war, lies flowed from the White House and individual liberties were threatened in the name of national security. It’s 1972, and two FBI agents — one enamored with the rock ’n’ roll and lifestyle, and the other missing the old days of flat tops and shined shoes — are tasked with getting politically outspoken John Lennon out of the country before Richard Nixon runs for re-election. Funny and relevant, it’s from the writer of Riverside’s recent hits “Dancing Lessons” and “Relativity.” This is a change from a previously announced show. Times: 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; Riverside Theatre, 213 N. Gilbert St., Iowa City. Tickets: $18 to $30, Riverside Box Office, (319) 338-7672 or Riversidetheatre.org/earsonabeatle
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
To Saturday (4/21) @ Coe College, Cedar Rapids
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Mistaken identities, gossip, pride and deception come together to delay, but never halt, true love. The play is considered one of the greatest romantic comedies ever written, in a production of colorful characters, passionate poetry and Shakespeare’s wittiest word play. The production features an all-student cast and crew. Times: 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, Dows Theatre, Coe College, 1220 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids. Tickets: $8 to $10, Coe Box Office, (319) 399-8600 or Coe.edu/boxoffice
To May 6 @ Giving Tree Theater, Marion
The opening night performance of the farce “Nothing’s On” is just hours away, and as the actors stumble through their final dress rehearsal, things couldn’t be going any worse. With lines being forgotten, love triangles unraveling and sardines flying everywhere, it’s complete pandemonium — all before intermission. Can the cast pull their act together on the stage even if they can’t behind the scenes? Rated PG-13 for some adult language and themes. Times: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; Giving Tree Theater, 752 10th St., Marion. Tickets: $26, (319) 213-7956 or Givingtreetheater.com