The Stage: Enjoy classic favorites and unexpected gifts this month in theatre

Emperor's New Clothes in Iowa City
Will the emperor be caught without any clothes once again? — photo by Rachel Jessen

December has the potential to be a quiet month for theatres: People leave town, and who would even want to venture into the cold when you can stay in, curled up under a blanket, drinking a concoction of hot chocolate mixed with melted peppermint patties? For those who go stir crazy in the winter, however, there are gems this month out there if you’re willing to seek them out—whether you are in the holiday spirit, or in the mood for more experimental fare.

MFA Director Projects

University Theatre

For the most varied subject matter this December, check out the University of Iowa Theatre Arts Department. During the first two weekends of the month, the MFA Directing students will be presenting their first productions at the university. If their inaugural selections are any indication, the Corridor can look forward to provocative, involved work from this class in upcoming years. The plays will include:

Desire Caught by the Tale by Pablo Picasso. Yes, THAT Pablo Picasso. It turns out that he was much less popular as a playwright than as a painter. His foray into farce has been performed rarely since it premiered in 1944.

Pvt. Wars by James McLure. A drama about three soldiers recovering in a hospital during the Vietnam War, the play premiered as a one-act at the Humana Festival in Louisville, Ky. before McLure expanded it into its current two-act version.

Fur by Migdalia Cruz. In a twisted apocalyptic update of Beauty and the Beast, a love triangle develops between a pet shop owner, a furry woman and an animal trapper.

The Playwright, written and directed by Mario El Caponi Mendoza. In this original work, a San Francisco playwright’s life unravels against a backdrop of economic crisis.

Performances run Dec. 12-14 in UI’s Theatre B. For more information on specific show times, visit

The Emperor’s New Clothes, or Five Beans for Jack

Iowa City Community Theatre

The world of fiction is full of fan theories that inject excitement into long-time classics. In Iowa City Community Theatre’s upcoming kid-friendly show, playwright David Foxton speculates on a connection between two popular fairy tales. In his version of events, the same pair of tricksters is responsible for the Emperor’s unorthodox wardrobe and Jack’s purchase of magic legumes! While Jack and the Beanstalk is a fairy tale of British origin and The Emperor’s New Clothes was first popularized by Hans Christian Andersen, audiences can still enter a magical world where giants—physical and mental—are cut down to size. Directed by Krista Neumann, this show will delight family members of all ages . . . who may even be able to participate in the action.

The performance runs Dec. 13-15 at the Johnson County 4-H Fairgrounds. For more information, visit

A Christmas Carol, Holiday Cabaret

City Circle Acting Company of Coralville

If you have a hankering for Christmas entertainment, pull yourself away from Hallmark movies to see two productions from City Circle. For a more traditional theatrical experience, they offer Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. First published as a novel in 1843, the story has been adapted for TV, opera and even graphic novels. Though it has been a Christmas tradition for everyone from Mr. Magoo to the Muppets, this tale of regret and second chances contains poignant lessons that are appropriate all year long.

If you prefer your Christmas cheer to have more of an edge, City Circle is proud to present its Holiday Cabaret. See a variety show that includes music, dancing and short scenes based on holiday themes. Performers include the Coralville Central Elementary Cougar Chorale and the Fabulous Hawkettes. There will be two performances each night—a “Nice” version at 7:30 p.m. . . . and a “Naughty” version at 10:30 p.m.

A Christmas Carol runs Dec. 13-15 and 20-22. Holiday Cabaret runs Dec. 14 and 21. Both shows are at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts. For more information, visit


The Old Creamery Theatre Company

For its final Studio Stage show of 2013 Old Creamery Theatre Company takes on the iconic American writer Truman Capote in the one-man show, Tru. Known for such novels as Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, Capote had an enigmatic personality that artists have attempted to capture ever since his death in 1984. In Tru, actor Jeff Haffner will portray Capote during one lonely night in his apartment in 1975.

Tru premiered on Broadway in 1989 featuring Robert Morse, who is best known as the original J. Pierrepont Finch in the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and for his current role as Bert Cooper in the TV drama Mad Men. Morse went on to win a Tony award for his acting in Tru, as well as an Emmy for recreating the role in a performance on PBS.

The performance runs Dec. 5-22 at The Old Creamery Theatre in Amana. For more information, visit

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