2018 Best Summer Theater and Shows 4 Des Moines Families

2018 Best Summer Theater and Shows 4 Des Moines Families

Find 2019 summer theater shows here.

Des Moines’ theater scene is heating up this summer. Can you say, “Hamilton”?!?  There are plays, musicals and stage performances for all ages, interests, and budgets happening throughout the season.  Read on and get tickets now, so your little theatergoers won’t miss out on some of their very favorite shows!

Note: Dates listed are performance beginning and end dates. Please click on the link or call for specific performances dates and times within those ranges, as not all performances take place on a daily basis.

Here’s your guide to the best summer theater and shows for Des Moines families:


Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards Showcase

Civic Center, Des Moines
June 4, 2018; 7:00 pm
All Ages
Tickets start at $15
Feel the energy of hundreds of amazing student performers representing 68 participating Iowa high schools, as they share highlights from their award-winning school musicals! This unforgettable evening of entertainment is a celebration of the important contributions of Iowa’s high school drama programs. Throughout the year, theater professionals traveled across the state to review high school musical productions. Now, students from those schools will come together to share highlights from their productions on the Civic Center stage and to receive honors for their work in performance, technical and creative categories. In addition, students will work under the direction of a guest Broadway music director and choreographer to give the best performances of their young lives. You’ll even see dreams come true when two students learn they will represent Iowa at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City this summer.

Prowess – Pyramid Theatre Company

Stoner Theater, Des Moines
June 7 – 17, 2018; Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm
Ages 5 and up
Tickets start at $16.50
What happens when a woman is fed up and decides to fight back? In Ike Holter’s hilarious action comedy, Prowess, Zora has had enough and decides to take on the crime in Chicago by herself with a group of friends. If you enjoyed Marvel’s Black Panther you’ll love this high kicking new play that includes more heart and humor than you could ever imagine. Prowess is directed by two-time Cloris Leachman Award winner Ken-Matt Martin with fight direction from Karla Kash and features members of the M.F.A. acting company of Brown University.

Honk – Main Season

Ankeny Community Theatre, Ankeny
June 8-17, 2018; Show times are Thursday and Fridays at 7:30 pm, and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm.
All ages
Tickets are Adult $15, Senior (60+) $12, Child (grades K-12) $10.
​Ugly looks quite a bit different from his darling duckling brothers and sisters. The other animals on the farm are quick to notice and point this out. The little fowl finds himself on an adventure of self-discovery, all the while unknowingly outwitting a very hungry Cat. Along the way, Ugly meets a whole flock of unique characters and finds out that being different is not a bad thing to be. Music by George Stiles, Book & lyrics by Anthony Drewe.

Peter Pan Jr – Mainstage

CAP Theatre, Altoona
June 8-10 & 15-17, 2018; Friday and Saturday at 7:00 pm; Sunday at 2:30 pm.
All ages
Tickets start at $10
Based on J.M. Barrie’s classic tale and featuring an unforgettable score by Morris “Moose” Charlap and Jule Styne with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh and Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Peter Pan is one of the most beloved family favorites of all time. The high-flying Tony Award-winning musical has been performed around the world and delighted audiences for 60 years and is now adapted for young performers. Peter and his mischievous fairy sidekick, Tinkerbell, visit the nursery of the Darling children late one night and, with a sprinkle of pixie dust, begin a magical journey across the stars that none of them will ever forget. In the adventure of a lifetime, the travelers come face to face with a ticking crocodile, a fierce Indian tribe, a band of bungling pirates and, of course, the villainous Captain Hook.

Romeo & Juliet – Iowa Stage Theatre Co.

Salisbury House Lawn
June 13-17, 2018; 7:30 pm
Ages 8 and up
Tickets start at $20 (Admission for children ages 6-12 is $10.00 – MUST CALL TO PURCHASE.
Children 5 years and under are FREE.)
This is the most popular fundraising event of the year for the Salisbury House! Shakespeare on the Lawn presents William Shakespeare’s most famous love story, Romeo and Juliet.  Performed by Iowa Stage Theatre Co., the tragedy comes to life under the stars with the majestic south terrace, gardens balcony as the backdrop. Filled with some of the greatest poetry of all time, the passionate story finds idealistic young lovers fighting for romance in the midst of a violent and ageless feud between their families.

Hamilton – Willis Broadway Series

Civic Center, Des Moines
June 27 – July 15, 2018
Ages 10 and up  (Only children age 5 and over with tickets will be allowed into the theater for this production.)
Limited tickets are available.
Hamilton is the story of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary.  Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton is the story of America then, as told by America now. With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical direction and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.


Gilligan’s Island the Musical – Carousel Theatre of Indianola

Indianola First United Methodist Church Parish Hall, Indianola
July 13 – 22, 2018; Showtimes are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:00 pm and Sunday at 2:00 pm
Ages 6 and up
Tickets can be purchased at the door.
Just sit right back and you’ll hear the tale, the tale of a fateful trip! It started from a tropic port, aboard a tiny ship! The mate was a mighty sailor man, the Skipper brave and sure. Five passengers set sail that day for a three-hour tour. The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed! If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost. The ship’s aground on the shore of a deserted desert island, with Gilligan, the Skipper too, the Millionaire and his Wife, the Movie Star, the Professor and Mary Ann… all on Gilligan’s Isle!

Mamma Mia! – The Des Moines Playhouse

Performing Arts Center at Valley High School
July 13-28, 2018:  Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm
Ages 8 and up
Tickets start at $29
The magic of ABBA’s timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, romance, and friendship.
Written by Catherine Johnson, Mamma Mia! has been entertaining audiences since its West End opening in 1999 and Broadway opening in 2001, winning five Tony Awards in 2002. Mamma Mia! centers around bride-to-be, Sophie, trying to find her long-lost father to walk her down the aisle. Not knowing which of the three possible men from her mother’s diary to invite, she brings all three of them back to the island last visited 20 years ago. With ABBA classics like “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo” and the title number, this smash hit musical is sure to have you dancing in the aisles!

Hamlet – CAP Theatre

Haines Park, Altoona
July 26-29, 2018; Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:00 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm
Ages 5 and up
Tickets are $7, available online and at the park. Tickets available at the park will be cash only.
A summer tradition of Shakespeare in the Park in Altoona. Hamlet is one of the great tragedies by William Shakespeare. The themes of the plot cover indecision, revenge and retribution, deception, ambition, loyalty and fate. Prince Hamlet mourns both his father’s death and his mother’s remarriage to his father’s brother. The ghost of Hamlet’s father appears to him and tells him that his brother poisoned him. Hamlet swears revenge. He kills the eavesdropping Polonius, the court chamberlain. Polonius’s son Laertes returns to avenge his father’s death. Polonius’s daughter Ophelia loves the Prince, but his behavior drives her to madness. Ophelia dies by drowning. A duel takes place and ends with the death of Gertrude, Laertes, Claudius, and Hamlet.

Please Note: This production is performed outdoors at Haines Park Amphitheatre (711 3rd Ave SE) Altoona, IA. In the event of inclement weather, performances will be moved to CAP Theatre (201 1st Ave S) Altoona, IA.

Bring It On: The Musical – Des Moines Young Artists’ Theatre

Stoner Theater, Des Moines
July 27 – August 5, 2018; Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm
Ages 5 and up
Tickets start at $24.50
From the creators of Hamilton, Next to Normal and Avenue Q comes this explosive musical about competitive cheerleading and fierce rivalries. Campbell is cheer-royalty at Truman High School and her senior year should prove the most cheertastic–she’s been named captain of the squad! But, an unexpected redistricting has forced her to spend her final year of high school at the neighboring hard-knock Jackson High School. Despite having the deck stacked against her, Campbell befriends the dance crew girls and, along with their headstrong and hardworking leader, Danielle, manages to form a powerhouse squad for the ultimate competition–the National Championships.


Over the River and through the Woods – Main Season

Ankeny Community Theatre, Ankeny
August 3-12, 2018; Show times are Thursday and Fridays at 7:30 pm, and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm.
Ages 7 and up
Tickets are Adult $15, Senior (60+) $12, Child (grades K-12) $10.
​Nick, a single, Italian-American guy from New Jersey, has had Sunday dinner with both sets of grandparents for years. He finally lands his dream job which will take him away from his beloved, but annoying, grandparents. Thus, begins a series of schemes to keep Nick around. Frank, Aida, Nunzio and Emma do their level best, and that includes bringing to dinner the lovely – and single – Caitlin O’Hare as bait. Written by Joe DiPietro.

Six-on-Six The Musical – Urbandale Community Theatre

Staplin Performing Arts Center, West Des Moines
August 3-12, 2018; Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 pm
All ages
Tickets are $30
Six on Six The Musical celebrates the rich tradition of six-on-six girls’ high school basketball in Iowa – its glorious history, unique rules, phenomenal popularity, colorful personalities, and the Title IX legal controversy that ultimately resulted in the game’s demise 25 years ago. Proponents of six-on-six are the fans of the game, including the athletic union members who govern the sport and the lawyer they hire to represent their case. Opposed to the game are the detractors, including an outspoken mother, her 16-year-old daughter, and the lawyer they hire to represent their case. Intertwined with the main story are several subplots, including: the media attention surrounding a high school standout and her opportunity to break a national scoring record; the tension that develops between the two lawyers who represent opposite sides of the controversy; the pressure the mother places on her daughter to succeed; and the simplicity and sweetness of young love.

Intimate Apparel – Pyramid Theatre

Stoner Theater, Des Moines
August 15 – 26, 2018; Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm
Ages 5 and up
Tickets start at $24.50
One by one, the other denizens of a boarding house marry and move away, but Esther remains, lonely and longing for a husband and a future. Her plan is to find the right man and use the money she’s saved to open a beauty parlor where black women will be treated as royally as the white women she sews for. The role of Esther was originated by Academy Award Winner Viola Davis Off-Broadway. A fully local cast from Des Moines brings this story to the Stoner Theatre under the direction of Pyramid Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Tiffany Johnson (Broadway World Award Winner & 2017 Cloris Leachman Award Nominee).

Puddles Pity Party

Hoyt Sherman Place, Des Moines
August 24, 2018; 8:00 pm
Ages 5 and up
Tickets start at $35
The “Sad Clown with the Golden Voice” is here with his heartfelt anthems and a suitcase full of Kleenex!  This Pity Party is not all sadness and longing. The show is peppered with a brilliant sense of the absurd, mixing lots of humor with the awkward, tender moments. You may recognize Puddles from his recent appearances on America’s Got Talent and video collaborations with Postmodern Jukebox.

Did we miss something?  Please let us know at nicole@dsm4kids.com.  And, find more fun things to do this summer in our Summer Fun Guide.



Which shows are on your summer theater agenda? We’d love to hear about it in the Comments below!

Featured photo courtesy of Class Act Productions (CAP) Community Theatre.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *