Review: THE HUNDRED DRESSES at Kate Goldman Children's Theatre

This show that envelops the audience in more ways than one plays through March 12.

By: Mar. 03, 2023
Review: THE HUNDRED DRESSES at Kate Goldman Children's Theatre

Our words are powerful; they can tear people down and quickly build people up. This is a lesson that kids of all ages, at times, need to be reminded of. This last weekend, Des Moines Playhouse opened "The Hundred Dresses" as part of the Kate Goldman Children's Series. This production envelops the entire audience in more ways than one.

The first way the audience will find themselves enveloped is with the story. "The Hundred Dresses," tells the story of a young girl named Madeline, who reflects on a story from her childhood. She remembers how her mother would add embellishments to her dresses to appear new to her friends, and they couldn't afford new dresses because her father was unemployed. When a girl named Wanda comes to her school who only wears one dress, she joins her friends in making fun of the girl, who says she has a hundred dresses at home. When the girl and her family leave due to how they are treated, Madeline is left to reflect on the impact she had on the situation. What does Madeline do? That you will have to attend the show to find out.

Walking into the theatre, the audiences get to set the beautiful set designed by Amanda Pichler and Max Shrum. They both did the lighting as well. The multi-level set appeared to be covered in oversized handwritten letters. If you are like me and don't know the story going in, it will have you wondering what the importance is, but by the end, you genuinely appreciate the nod to what happens in the story. The costumes by Jessica Van Essen bring a welcome pop of color to the stage, and the sound by Chris Powell helps set the show's tone for the audience.

Another way the audience finds itself pulled into the production is through the emotions they face throughout the show. Part of this comes from the brilliant direction of David Van Cleave. Over the last few years, I've appreciated seeing how he can take a show and connect it to today's audiences. In this production, he has asked the audience to look at how they look at and treat people who are different from them. This is a very important reflection as we look at how we treat people who immigrate to the US or even how we look at people with different views.

The audience continues to be pulled in by the terrific cast who share this story with the audience. Looking through the program, it was a thrill to see so many young cast members making their debuts at the Playhouse, along with several more seasoned performers returning to the stage. It added a beautiful extra reflection for the audience about how young people look up to the people around them as they figure out how to respond to situations around them. Seeing that kind of partnership on stage is something audiences of all ages will relate to and remember. This can be seen in how Ginnie Padden responds and speaks to the class after a pivotal letter to the story is ready. It can also be seen in how Bianca Elliott and Melissa M. Keller, playing Madeline Reeves and her mother Shelly Reeves, discuss how Madeline responds to what has happened.

Sometimes the best shows allow the audience to come in and fully take in the story. "The Hundred Dresses" allows the audience to do that and more. The designs, directing, and acting, all come together and ask us how we respond to people who are different. I can't think of a more relevant production to share with the kids in our lives, no matter their age. This production continues at Des Moines Playhouse through March 12. To find out more, or to purchase tickets, visit the link below.


Review: DEAR EVEN HANSEN at Des Moines Performing Arts Photo
Review: DEAR EVEN HANSEN at Des Moines Performing Arts

Dear Broadwayworld Reader. This week is going to be a good week. That is because 'Dear Evan Hansen' is back in Des Moines through June 11. In 2019, Des Moines Performing Arts brought the first national tour of 'Dear Evan Hansen' early in its run. So it's fitting that it is returning to Des Moines this week as one of its final stops before the tour closes in July. Another reason it's a fitting way to wind up its tour is that as part of the Independent Producers Network, Des Moines Performing Arts has invested in the show's Broadway, National Tour, and London productions. If you've seen the show in the past, or even the movie, after seeing it on opening night in Des Moines, I can say with certainty 'Dear Evan Hansen' is worth revisiting.

NATIVE GARDENS is Now Playing at Des Moines Playhouse Photo
NATIVE GARDENS is Now Playing at Des Moines Playhouse

Native Gardens is now playing at Des Moines Playhouse. Performances run June 2-18.

The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra Swings into Coralville in June Photo
The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra Swings into Coralville in June

The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra returns to the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts Thursday, June 8 at 7:00 PM.

Review: TINA: THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL at Des Moines Performing Arts Photo
Review: TINA: THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL at Des Moines Performing Arts

What did our Some artists are remembered for being one-hit wonders, while others are known for producing hit after hit. In either case, we are left with the legacy of their music. When you think of Tina Turner, you think of all the hit songs she is known for. The legacy her music still has can be seen on stage at Des Moines Performing Arts as they opened 'Tina: The Tina Turner Musical' as part of their current Broadway Series.  critic think of TINA: THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL at Des Moines Performing Arts?

From This Author - DC Felton

David Felton has been involved in theatre since his middle school production of The Wizard of Oz. Throughout high school he stayed onstage, and once he got to college he started exploring thebackstage... (read more about this author)


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