The Des Moines Playhouse

Lights, camera, action!

Started in 1919 by the Iowa Press and Authors club, the Des Moines Community Playhouse is one of the largest community theatres in the United States–and also one of the oldest, continuously operating theatres in the country. From Broadway musicals to knee-slapping comedies, tearful dramas to colorful family entertainment–the Playhouse brings a little thespian spice-that’s-nice (in all its wonderful forms) to the Greater Des Moines area.

But that’s not all. “In addition to presenting 12 productions each year, we also have the largest education department of any community theatre in the country,” says Lee Ann Bakros, Marketing & Public Relations Director for the Playhouse. “The classes are year-round for ages 4 through senior adult.”

For many, the Des Moines Playhouse is more than a community theatre; it’s a place of empowerment, inspiration and expression. “The Playhouse is one of the few organizations that brings together people from all walks of life,” said the late Harold Goldman, longtime supporter of the arts. “Young, old, rich, poor, black and white–I’m encouraged by that. I think what the Playhouse does can help erase our differences.” So do a lot of people. In 2012, the Des Moines Community Playhouse was awarded the Better Together Award by the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation.

 “Young, old, rich, poor, black and white–I think what the Playhouse does can help erase our differences.”

The mission of the Playhouse is to change lives by entertaining, enriching, and engaging the people of Greater Des Moines through high-quality theatrical presentations, avocational experiences, and life-long education opportunities. “At the heart of the Playhouse are the approximately 1,400 volunteers who annually contribute 75,000 hours of their time and their talent onstage, backstage, and in the classrooms,” says Lee Ann.

The Playhouse uses VolunteerLocal to schedule ushers, ticket takers, house managers, and concessionaires. “Prior to VolunteerLocal, volunteers had to drive to the Playhouse to write their name on paper schedules in a notebook,” says Lee Ann. “If they couldn’t remember when they were volunteering, they would have to drive over or call in to check the schedule.”

Now, she says, “volunteers can sign up at home–at midnight, if they want!” The Playhouse captures all volunteer contact information using the software to stay current, and they love the handy export feature for day-of-performance check-ins. Deb Korte, Guest Services Manager for the Playhouse, is equally pleased with the switch to an automated volunteer service. “It’s very intuitive and user friendly–not to mention time saving!” She says. “I for one am extremely appreciative of the time saving aspect of this program.”

Photos courtesy of Des Moines Community Playhouse

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