June: The month in theatre

Actors at Riverside Theatre rehearse for The School for Scandal, an 18th-century play about manners. Photo by James Davies

Riverside Theatre

The School for Scandal

Riverside Theatre has been Iowa City’s source for outdoor theatre entertainment since 2000, the inaugural summer of their Shakespeare Festival. With the recent name change to Riverside Theatre in the Park to reflect “a greater variety of summer programming,” theatre patrons can see more than just Shakespeare at the company’s Festival Stage in Iowa City’s Lower City Park. This year, the festival will be staging productions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Richard Sheridan’s 1777 comedy of manners The School for Scandal.

One hour before each evening’s show, the public can bring a picnic to the lawn near the Festival Stage’s concession stand where they can dine while watching a free Green Show, a condensed version of that night’s play performed by the festival’s apprentice company. Riverside Theatre in the Park runs from June 14 through July 7. For more information on show times, tickets, location (check back often in case of flood) and accessibility,


“Riverside Theatre at the Park will now be indoors at West High Auditorium, due to flooding in Lower City Park. Located at 2901 Melrose Ave, Iowa City, IA 52246, West High Auditorium is an air-conditioned, indoor auditorium with excelent acoustics. Sheltered from both rain and heat, West High Auditorium provides comfortable seating as well as an excelent performance venue.” –via Riverside Theatre

Theatre Cedar Rapids

Our Town
Spring Awakening

Theatre Cedar Rapids has two very different theatrical experiences to enjoy this month. Thorton Wilder’s Our Town, the modern American classic about life and death in a small town, will be staged in TCR’s Grandon Studio, an intimate “black box” style space. Instead of a full production, the play will be presented as a staged reading, with scripts in hand and minimal props and sets. Even with the sparse surroundings, you will need to bring a packet of tissues to use during the play’s famous, heartbreaking climax. This production will take place June 6-16.

TCR’s auditorium space will feature Spring Awakening, the Tony Award winning rock musical about teens struggling through puberty in 19th Century Germany. With its catchy songs and wealth of parts for young actors, the play is quickly gaining popularity among independent theatres across the country. German proto-expressionist playwright Frank Wedekind wrote the original play in 1891, which was not performed in public until 1906—and not performed uncensored until 1974. In 2006, one-hit wonder Duncan Sheik presented this musical adaptation, streamlining the action and making the young characters express their angst through original rock music songs like “Mama Who Bore Me,” “The Bitch of Living” and “The Dark I Know Well.” Wedekind dedicated the original play to “parents and teachers.” In a time where adults still argue over whether teenagers should have access to emergency contraception and comprehensive sex education, this play presents a warning of the tragedies that can occur when society deprives teenagers of basic facts about their bodies and feelings. Spring Awakening will be staged June 28 through July 20.

For more information on show times and tickets for both productions, visit

University of Iowa Theatre

No Fish in the House
The Bad Seed
The Who’s Tommy

The University of Iowa has presented summer theatrical productions since 1920. Today, the University’s Iowa Summer Rep is a professional summer repertory theatre company that also tours some shows around the state.

No Fish in the House is a slapstick comedy in the style of Commedia dell’arte, the 16th century Italian form of improvisational theatre that was a major influence on modern comedy. Centered on the antics of a group of rehearsing actors, this family-friendly show will be touring the state in June and July. Free performances will take place in Iowa City on June 8 at Downtown Iowa City’s Summer of the Arts and at the University’s Theatre B on June 14, 28-29, and July 5-6, 12-13.

Based on William March’s novel, The Bad Seed is an over-the-top 1950’s drama focusing on the demons lurking underneath the suburbs. Christine is the mother of Rhonda, a seemingly perfect eight-year-old girl. When a classmate dies under mysterious circumstances and Rhonda’s eyewitness account has major holes, Christine begins to suspect that her precious little girl is a cold-blooded monster. The play and its movie adaptation have become campy classics, and the UI repertory company will be performing it in the style of “Father Knows Best squared.” The production will be at UI’s David Thayer Theatre from June 28 through July 13.

If you have worn out the grooves on your vinyl copy of The Who’s Tommy, come see the live-action story of the “deaf, dumb and blind kid” who “sure plays a mean pinball.” The double album, released in 1969, was the first to be billed as a “rock opera.” Pete Townsend and theatre director Des McAnuff then adapted the album into its currently stage musical form in 1993. See performances of rock classics like “Pinball Wizard,” “The Acid Queen” and “I’m Free.” The musical runs at the University’s E.C. Mabie Theatre July 18-21, 25-27.

For more information on Iowa Summer Rep show times and ticket prices, visit

Jorie Slodki earned her MA in Theatre Research from University of Wisconsin, Madison, and has past experience in acting, directing and playwriting.

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