“It’s a hit- a palpable hit!” Hamlet

 

Reviews from critics and our audience members:

 

The ISE is proud of the evalutations and feedback we receive from professionals and non-professionals alike! Especially, the terrific notes from our audiences mean the world to us …and to those of you who have sent us – unasked- checks or notes or otherwise anonymous donations in the mail or via the “Bard Basket”, we often have no other way to say thanks for such boundless generosity than to use this page to tell you how very very VERY much such thoughtful support means.

Here and on related pages in this section are just a few comments from our inaugural season – with our deepest appreciation to those who took the time to write or otherwise comment!

 

Critical reviews:

In stringent competive reviews by exceptionally qualified judges who have an opportunity to look at actual work samples, we routinely recieve comments such as the following:

 

“Absolutely superior artistic quality, qualified staff, plus good planning and track record”

Iowa Arts Council Grant review judge 2010

 

“Innovative approach- an experience more than just a play! I like that!”

Iowa Arts Council Grant review judge 2010

 

"A long record of providing top value to the community"

Iowa Arts Council Grant review judge 2010

 

“They’re (the ISE) just really, really really GOOD!”

Iowa Arts Council Grant review judge 2010

 

“Simply an outstanding project!”

Iowa Arts Council Grant review judge 2009

 

Other professional reviews and commentary:  

 

 

2010 COMMENTS:

Mike Morrain, Theatre Critic for the Des Moines Register:  Title of Review:  The Bard's Work Graces Des Moines Bridge!" (July 18 2010).  Content of Review: (The ISE) "succeeded in rounding up a talented cast of local actors and musicians, as well as a handful of dancers from Ballet Des Moines. Together, they told Shakespeare's fairy tale of mixed-up romance with a streamlined script by ISE artistic director Lorenzo Sandoval."..."the elements of music and dance worked well within the spoken-word script"......"it's hard to beat a free night of live entertainment. ISE has set out to build a summer Shakespeare festival on par with more established events in Omaha and Kansas City, and this year's production brings us one step closer."

Media Reporter Ryan Kolder, Modern American Television, a subsidiary of KRV Entertainment LLC.: July 18 2010:  (for the KCCI TV Series On the Spot with Ryan Polder): “So here we are once again on the spot with Ryan Kolder, bringing you tonight the 2010 Shakespeare Festival: A Midsummer Night’s Dream Extravaganza!  (We were) dazzled by not only the wonderful stage set up and costumes, but also the performances were out of this world!  As MD Iseley, Executive Director of Bravo said tonight 'regular arts is a key quality of life issue for Des Moines, and tonight’s show was definitely proof of (quality of life)!'  Also, from Puttin on the Ritz to It Had to Be You, from original scores or lyrical adaptations, (ISE Musical Director) Tina Haase is by far the musical genius.”  (The show goes on to interview several ISE company members). The 3 minute segment concludes with this quote from Mr. Polder to the Actors, Choreographer, Musical Director and Producers: “It was an awful lot of fun tonight- You guys were amazing, amazing, amazing!”

Tom Deiker is an award-winning playwright who has placed works in several dozen publications including Cimarron Review, Fugue, Galaxy, Newsweek, and Plain Dealer Magazine. His metro-area theatre company, Lucubrations, focuses on developing emerging talent and on new works, and performs monthly at the Des Moines Social Club.  Tom says:

“Bravo, cheers, auteur, auteur! and the magic of the night and river and backdrop of the golden dome -- all your hard work paid off, I especially liked integrating show tunes with the dialogue, it enhanced the performance. Should "Shakespeare on the Locust Street Bridge" maybe become an annual tradition with metal plaques commemorating -- and marketing -- each performance? “

Stuart Alexander says: “ I'm from Scotland - and I just LOVED your approach to the Bard.  That was a tremendous mixture of the play with music and the acting and the evening was just perfect!.  Also, as a professional event planner, I have to say- even with a raging flood that was one of the loveliest events I have attended in Des Moines Iowa. Simply a marvelous job and well done, well done!”

Emily, a London-educated Shakespearean aficionado, wrote to say: “I recently moved to Iowa and I am so excited to see the Iowa Shakespeare Experience.   I have studied Shakespeare in London at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.  I studied under Edward Berkeley at Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York City, where I also began a Shakespeare company called Out of a Hat Productions.  I have been in love with Shakespeare all of my life and I have enjoyed studying his words in depth.  I enjoy teaching and diving into the words of Shakespeare, and I love how you take his words, (…keep the best and translate select other parts into plainer yet still romantic English to help people understand the piece as a whole…) This is how I work with his words as well!”

From Morgan Halgren of Iowa Public Television, noted theatrical actress and popular songstress: "I was there on Sunday night. The evening was just beautiful and so fun - I ended up sitting stage left and had a great seat- and just really enjoyed it - it was fun AND funny, loved the music!  I was singing under my breath to all of the songs, it was really an enjoyable, enjoyable evening - and I also think this adaptation is really really marketable.  Other Festivals will want to produce this! Hollis Monroe was just superb - he is an amazing actor, just superb.  He and the Puck "duet" scene were THE moment for me- just the PERFECT golden moment that you want in theater.  Allie Hade created a real character (instead of the cardboard one Helena often is) - really upped it a notch, very neat experience.  Also, really no matter what anyone says, there is still a stigma about Shakespeare for many people, but when you mix it up a little bit like the ISE does, it makes it SO much approachable, and when the actors really know what they're saying like yours did, it makes it SO fun.  Egeus went beyond angry father- your approach really fleshed him out.  I was aware the show was an adaptation, but was hard pressed to say where the lines were exactly drawn- save that I felt it was SO much more palatable this way."

From one of our Sponsors: "My wife and kids attended Friday and it was just great!  The kids loved it- and I had no idea my parents would be there, too - but they, too, had spontaneously been drawn to attend!  And, we all thought it was fantastic!  We would be happy to sponsor you next year, too!"

From Dr. Judith Conlin, PhD. in Literature and former teacher of Shakespeare:  “Truly it was an extravaganza!  Watching you finish the stage Friday night – a tree falling over on Robin, nails being pounded, all kinds of details being attended to – I was frankly amazed anew at the sheer physical and emotional effort that is required – and all on top of the exquisite intellectual effort!
 
Puck was perfect – and John was such a professional as he recovered with aplomb from the hazards of new staging.  There were so many great things – the jazz was fabulous and the mid summer night dream song is so incredibly beautiful; Tina is brilliant.  The make-up for Punk and the fairy kingdom, the dancing and dancers, the majestic Lorenzo . . . . . Thank you both for giving such special gifts to Des Moines and Iowa.  I have talked to a lot of happy, deeply grateful people (who were reacting to this show.) We are so deeply fortunate to have (the ISE here in Des Moines).”

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, FROM ONE OF OUR ACTORS, JOHN ZICKEFOOSE, WHO PLAYED OUR UNIQUELY MEMORABLE PUCK:

 

Hi Lorenzo,

Yes, the cash stipend amount for my role is indeed satisfactory!

  

My!  This year's festival was quite an experience for one and all--on stage, backstage, and the audiences!!  I had a marvelous time (both rehearsals and performances) playing Puck.  He seemed to have a longer "gestation period" than usual for me; I don't know why--perhaps I was somewhat intimidated by the task.  Happily, by opening night, Puck "contacted" me and I finally felt both he and I were in sync!

  

I will always have very fond memories of our closing performance--in particular the moment when I sat down in front of all those kids in the front row for the "drunkard's cup" and "wise, old aunt" speech.  I had already decided that that speech would be a perfect time to relate especially to them--a moment I could make "just between us kids" as it were.  (This monologue had been the most worrisome, I mean:  is it actually funny?  Certainly Puck thinks so, but what about the audience?)  But by Sunday night I could sense the monologue was "landing," and on Monday night I could see by the looks on the kids' faces that we were all making memories for them that will last a long, long time; and I could tell by the reactions of the rest of the audience that the same was true for everyone.

  

I know how extra, extra hard you and Robin worked to make this all happen--especially the monumental task of relocating everything to the bridge, and I want to express my heartfelt thanks for all of those (highly successful) Herculean efforts!  As always, I greatly look forward to our next project!!

  

Thanks again to you both,

John

 

 

 

2009 COMMENTS:

Librarian, Downtown Des Moines Public Library (regarding our youth programs): "The presentations that I’ve watched in the past have been wonderful (I think for either teen or adults).  As an adult, I personally have even gotten a lot out of what Lorenzo has taught in years past.  And I went to the performance of Much a Doo Wop About Something and had a wonderful experience!"

General Audience Comments:  

“'Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers.” Romeo and Juliet

2010 COMMENTS:

Kathy MB of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute says: “Bravo!  I would not have thought possible that last night’s 2010 performance could have been anywhere near as wonderful as last year’s 2009 shows that I just loved, given the change of venue and all, but I specially drove home early from a trip to Omaha for this anyway-  - and I am happy to say I was wrong!  Last night’s performance, entertainment, state setting, adaptation, actors, all of it was absolutely fabuloso.  It was as good as last year and maybe even better.  Please tell everyone how much we enjoyed it.  Cannot wait to see what you have in store for us next year.  Thank you for a wonderful evening.  Will continue to spread the word through the Greater Des Moines Leadership network!” 

"T" says:  "I am speechless.  I went to see the other Shakespeare work around town earlier this weekend and your show blew everything out of the water.  This was incredible work- incredible acting, seamless play adaptation- and I went on Family Night, which was packed - the looks on the kids faces were priceless.  It was magic. Astonishing too how many, many families happily stayed throught the entire show- we saw one Mom who apparently felt it was her child's bedtime, but the youngster was simply begging not to leave! Yet you certainly never once "dumbed anything down" for the kids.  Its notable that family night was the exact same presentation as other nights- just a different preshow line up designed to involve the kids- and a different seating approach so kids could sit up close.  So, far from dumbing down, your approach elevates the entire audience - adults AND youth - - into the work - it was just a great big wow!"

From an anonymous audience member:  "I wanted to go, but my husband said he hates Shakespeare and didn't want to come.  I had to drag him- but he just loved it!  What you do -interlaying songs into the play and also the other parts of the festival- is exactly the right approach!  In fact, my husband loved it so much he said he already wanted to come back next year! I can't wait!"  

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, FROM ONE OF OUR ACTORS, JOHN ZICKEFOOSE, WHO PLAYED OUR UNIQUELY MEMORABLE PUCK:

 

Hi Lorenzo,

Yes, the cash stipend amount for my role is indeed satisfactory!

  

My!  This year's festival was quite an experience for one and all--on stage, backstage, and the audiences!!  I had a marvelous time (both rehearsals and performances) playing Puck.  He seemed to have a longer "gestation period" than usual for me; I don't know why--perhaps I was somewhat intimidated by the task.  Happily, by opening night, Puck "contacted" me and I finally felt both he and I were in sync!

  

I will always have very fond memories of our closing performance--in particular the moment when I sat down in front of all those kids in the front row for the "drunkard's cup" and "wise, old aunt" speech.  I had already decided that that speech would be a perfect time to relate especially to them--a moment I could make "just between us kids" as it were.  (This monologue had been the most worrisome, I mean:  is it actually funny?  Certainly Puck thinks so, but what about the audience?)  But by Sunday night I could sense the monologue was "landing," and on Monday night I could see by the looks on the kids' faces that we were all making memories for them that will last a long, long time; and I could tell by the reactions of the rest of the audience that the same was true for everyone.

  

I know how extra, extra hard you and Robin worked to make this all happen--especially the monumental task of relocating everything to the bridge, and I want to express my heartfelt thanks for all of those (highly successful) Herculean efforts!  As always, I greatly look forward to our next project!!

  

Thanks again to you both,

John

 

 

2009 COMMENTS:

John N. says:  “WOW!  LOVE the new venue! EVERY seat is has a great view, and the lighting and special effects combine with superb acting to quickly elevate Iowa Shakesperience Fest shows above any other Shakespeare play in town!”

 

Tina M. says:  “I am sending this out to my entire address book:  These shows are a MUST SEE!  We had a fantastic time!  Fab fab fab show and event.  Everyone, go see this!”

 

Joan B. says:  “This was the highlight of my summer!” 

 

John T says:  “Its not just a play- its an Experience!”

 

Kathy MB says: “ Wow!  What an outstanding performance and an absolutely beautiful evening!  I had no idea the show would be so well done and the acting was so very professional.  I am definitely a fan and will look for more good works to come from you and Lorenzo (who knew he was so funny!)  Anyway, great job and hats off to you and your team!”

 

Dawn M says:  “My dear new friends:  Good Morning!  You must be just glowing, and hopefully basking, in the success of last evening’s performance!  The very first thing I did was look up your contact information (after meeting you at the show last night.) I wanted to personally congratulate you and the cast of the entire show last evening: what a truly magical evening it was for all.  I am just delighted and thrilled ot have such talent and enthusiasm for the theatre here in DSM.  Please let me know what I might do to get involved to help you in your quest.  My friend David (who did that edible flower arrangement you admired) would also love to get involved.  Again, congrats on a fabulous job.  I would love ot see pictures if you would forward any my way!”

 

Judy McL. says: “WOW!  You sure do know how to put on a fabulous show.  Visually gorgeous as well as great music -- and a masterful concept for the play.  Tina is incredible and "Puck" matched her well.  You did a great job of introducing the event and setting the stage...nice!  Great costumes.  Kudos to all the players, as well – the Actors were all terrific.  We hope to see Abridged this Saturday so we get the full experience of your creations.”

 

Bill G.says:  “With this summer’s offering of MUCH ADO WAP, Shakespeare came quite a distance in the Des Moines art scene.  While the play was more “hip” than its original rendition, the outdoor setting took on a flavor of old – an Elizabethan, festive feel that may last have been seen around the turn of the century bandshell area.  Confused? OK, imagine the not-so-distant turn of the century (20th) periods where patrons emulated the outdoor Stratford-on-Avon-flavor.  Mellon and salads were nestled within silver bowls, candelabras and ice buckets all set up and served under the evening shade of gossamer white canopies inside tents. Now you have an idea what a blessing this Festival was, for a Midwestern Capital city which continually re-invents itself.”

 

K. S. says: “I have come to this festival directly from the hospital!  It was the first thing both my husband and I wanted to do when we were released!  We had been looking forward to this for many days!  My husband had been in the hospital for neurosurgery since April 28 and I got out along with him after a week there myself.  We took a taxi here because we didn’t feel up to driving but still, we just didn’t want to miss it and the show was GREAT!”

 

 

 

From web posts, 2009 Repertory Season:

  • Marie Nicolene Comtesse d'Altoona says:

Sunday, 2nd August 2009 at 4:40 am

a merry romp.Jolly good fun…

Thursday, 4th February 2010 at 9:41 am

Kudos from one braniac to another. pastedGraphic_1.pdf

  • pastedGraphic.pdfbreona says:

Monday, 29th June 2009 at 12:37 am

This will be my first time going and im really excited.it’s great you guys are providing something like this for the community.;)