APR 5, 2016



Robert Z. Grant, over there on the right, grew up in West Des Moines and returns next week with an improv troupe that creates uproarious and unpredictable musicals nightly.

SHORT-ORDER COMEDY IN IMPROV SHOWS 

When the cast of "Broadway's Next Hit Musical" goes on stage, they have no idea what show they're be performing. It hasn't been written yet. Not the songs, not the story. They make it all up as they go.

This musical improv troupe, which includes Dowling Catholic High School alum Robert Z. Grant, has been inventing songs and stories for more than 15 years, delighting audiences from coast to coast.

It's one of two improvisational theater events coming up at the Temple for Performing Arts: "Broadway's Next Hit Musical" is April 12-17, and "The Improvised Shakespeare Company" is April 28-30. Both start with an idea from the audience and result in shows crafted right before your eyes.

"The key to successful improv is listening," says Grant, who graduated from Dowling in 1987, "and you have to be acutely aware of everything that is happening." 
 
"Part of the fun," he says, "is solving the problems inherent in making it all up on the spot." The show was last "on the spot" here three years ago, when it earned high praise from local crowds.
 
Grant recalls Iowa as "a fantastic place to grow up," adding, "I have had so many opportunities since, and the confidence to do it came from my Iowa upbringing."
 
As a result, he says, "I cannot describe how thrilling it is to be able to bring ... a handful of my wildly talented New York friends home to Des Moines to share some laughs." Get your share of those laughs from the musical or the equally inventive faux Shakespeare with tickets and other info here.
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Sarah and Lynn Pritchard of Table 128.

SOME SPRINGTIME JOIE DE VIVRE 
By Wini Moranville

Love French food? You know I do. That's why I'm excited to be partnering with some local food pros on two upcoming France-focused events:
 
  • "La Belle Vie" Wine Dinner at Table 128: I'm partnering with chef-owner Lynn Pritchard and wine importer Jean-Philippe Bourgeois April 14 at 6:30 p.m. for an evening that spotlights four distinct wine regions of France. Get a taste of Bordeaux, with pâté and charcuterie from the Southwest; then move onto the Rhône Valley, with a mixed grill of duck and lamb with lavender honey. Next, enjoy a classic cheese course, featuring selections from Eastern France. For dessert, enjoy a Champagne-inspired spring fruit tart. Each course is paired with a wine from the region. The cost is $56 per person, including tax and gratuity. Seating is limited, so reservations are required: 515-327-7427. For more information,  menu details and a list of wines, visit  Table 128's web page. 
  • The French Happy Hour -- A Cooking Demonstration + Wine Tasting at Vom Fass: For this class, I'll demonstrate simple-yet-stylish appetizer ideas that will help kick off any evening with French joie-de-vivre. Certified sommelier Jeff Yanecek from Okoboji Wine and Spirits will also be on hand, pouring samples of French wine to pair with each appetizer. Join us from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on either April 20 or 21 for this event. The cost is $30, which includes appetizers and wine tastings. Each class is limited to 15 seats. Call Vom Fass at 515-244-5020 to reserve a space.

Wini Moranville covers food and dining for dsm. Follow her at All Things Food - DSM Wini Moranville.
From azure to indigo, dynamic shades expand a design trend toward "moody blues." 

TRENDS IN DECOR THAT SCORE 
 
Five new interior design trends will be showcased and explained in a free talk April 9, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., at The Mansion, an interior design firm and fine furnishings store (2801 Ingersoll Ave.). 
 
We enjoyed a preview in a conversation with The Mansion's Becky Rogers, who predicts new popularity for shades of blue, especially when energized with vibrant contrasts, such as "a punch of orange."
 
Also big for 2016, she says: "Metallics are in everything, from fashions to furnishings--even cowhide patterns with flecks of gold."
 
These and other fresh interior trends will be explained by The Mansion's designers, including Joe Boehm, former design guru at Better Homes and Gardens. They'll serve refreshments along with answers to your design questions. For more information, call 515-280-7161 or visit the website
Novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard will visit with readers tomorrow at the Central Library.

AUTHORS VISITING IN APRIL 

The Des Moines Public Library's AViD (Authors Visiting in Des Moines) series continues tomorrow, April 6, at 7 p.m. with Jacquelyn Mitchard discussing her newest book, "Two If By Sea" at the Central Library. She's also the author of "The Deep End of the Ocean," which topped the New York Times' list of best sellers.

The series continues April 29 with David Morrell, best known for creating the character Rambo in his debut novel, "First Blood."
The a capella trio Tonic Sol-fa is only half of the lineup Thursday at Hoyt Sherman Place.
 
TWICE THE FUN THURSDAY AT HOYT'S PLACE 

Well, now here's a bold combination: a capella singers with a band.
No, not performing together. It's a two-fer Thursday, April 7, at Hoyt Sherman Place. Enjoy the voices of Tonic Sol-fa, from Minnesota, along with The Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience, performing contemporary songs with big band punch. All for $38, starting at 7:30 p.m. Get details and tickets here.

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