MAR 29, 2016

Alexanda Grey, center, plays a disco diva hiding from criminals in a convent in "Sister Act." In song and dance, she leads the church through a new reformation.  


April 1 is a fun day for local theater fans -- no fooling. The musical comedy "Sister Act" opens Friday at Des Moines Community Playhouse, and offstage merriment awaits at StageWest Theatre Company's annual Fool's Ball.
"Sister Act" (singer sees a murder, hides in convent; mirth ensues) runs through April 24. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $25-$45 here.

StageWest bills its gala fundraiser as "a festive
and foolishly fabulous evening," 6-10 p.m. Friday at Sticks Event Center, 3631 S.W. 61st St. A masquerade theme should add to that goal, so you'll want to get masks as well as tickets. Nothing foolish about the entertainment: versatile vocalist Gina Gedler accompanied by pianist Jamie Poulsen. Admission prices of $40 to $150 include appetizers and drinks. Details are here.  
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A good thyme can be had by all at a new market specializing in farm-fresh produce. 

By Wini Moranville

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, a specialty grocery retailer in the Midwest, opened its first Iowa store in West Des Moines on March 23. Here are five highlights that I gleaned on a preview visit the day before:
  •  It's ginormous and joyful. The 30,000-square-foot retailer devotes nearly a third of its space to strikingly displayed produce, making it a colorful, bountiful place to shop.
  • Prices are right. The organic and traditional produce I spotted was competitively priced: Whole pineapples for 99 cents, fresh herbs for $1.88 a package, bunches of organic beets for $2.49. Think Whole Foods quality at Trader Joe's prices.
  • Sausages galore. I don't think I've ever seen so many sausages in one place. The store offers more than 20 varieties, including off-the-beaten-path finds such as Portuguese linguisa sausage and garlic-basil sausage.
  • Duck, duck, goat! I was thrilled to find frozen skin-on duck breasts at a reasonable price (around $7 each); also look for frozen ground elk, goat, antelope and venison.
  •  A heyday for non-cooks. Ready-to-cook entrées include stuffed fresh chicken, pork chops and poblano peppers, with lots of ready-to-reheat sides, including roasted veggies, creamed corn and mac-and-cheese.
The only slight disappointment was the cheese section, with its prepackaged offerings. Local heroes like The Cheese Shop of Des Moines and Gateway Market have us spoiled with their extensive hand-cut-to-order options.
Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is at 2900 University Ave., West Des Moines; 515-635-6016; open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Wini Moranville covers food and dining for dsm. Follow her at All Things Food - DSM Wini Moranville.
From diamonds to dinnerware, one never knows what wonders await at Arts & Ends sales.

The Des Moines Art Center is busily gathering treasures for its outrageously excellent tag sale, Arts & Ends, to be held Friday through Sunday, April 29 to May 1, in the former Crescent Chevrolet building; enter at 555 17th St. All manner of finery, from furniture to fedoras, has been snatched up at this event in years past.
Artwork, china, silver, crystal, jewelry and other bedazzlements donated to raise funds for the Art Center will be spiffed up and spread out for your consideration. You'll need tickets for the opening night event, a party with hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar ($50 for Art Center members, $65 for nonmembers, $75 at the door). Go to for times, tickets and details.
Worshippers bow in prayer during Muslim services in Greater Des Moines.
Photo by Bob Blanchard.


Remember dsm magazine's story about Drake University professor Tim Knepper and photographer Bob Blanchard's upcoming book on Greater Des Moines' diverse faith communities? That story comes to life next week when Knepper and more than a dozen religious leaders will showcase the city's theological diversity in thoughtful conversation and artistry: Thursday, April 7, 6-8 p.m. in the Turner Jazz Center on the campus of Drake University. It's free and eye-opening.

Detail from "Pierce," by Susan Chrysler White (acrylic and glassine on canvas). 

Valley Junction's Olson-Larsen Galleries is hosting an opening night reception Friday, April 8, from 5 to 9 p.m. for an exhibit featuring new work by Iowa artists Priscilla Steele and Susan Chrysler White. The exhibit will continue through May 28.

Steele, a printmaker and mixed media artist from Cedar Rapids, is widely known for her figurative work. Co-owner of Campbell-Steele Gallery in Marion, she also teaches printmaking at Coe College.

White's abstract imagery and patterns morph into organic, botanical forms. She often works by pouring and pressing paint onto the surface. She has taught at the University of Iowa, the Cooper Union School of Art, Skidmore College and Carnegie Mellon University.

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