Best Shows for DSM Kids and Families for Summer 2019

Best Shows for DSM Kids and Families for Summer 2019

Summer is always a great time for family-friendly theater performances.  There are options for all ages, interests, and budgets, including a page-to-stage adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, family-friendly outdoor Shakespeare and Star Wars fans can experience a A New Hope like never before! Best of all, several of the picks are less than $15 per ticket.

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

Here’s your guide to finding the best shows for kids and families this summer in Des Moines:


Silent Sky – Main Stage

Des Moines Playhouse
May 31 – June 16, 2019:  Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm
Ages 5 and up
Tickets start at $29

Silent Sky is an inspiring story of perseverance and scientific discovery told through the eyes of Henrietta Leavitt, a real female “computer” at Harvard College Observatory, in 1901. In spite of social restrictions of the time, Henrietta and her female peers pursued their study of the stars and changed the way we understand both the heavens and earth today.

Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards Showcase

Civic Center, Des Moines
June 3, 2019; 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.

Nickelodeon’s JoJo Siwa D.R.E.A.M. The Tour

Civic Center, Des Moines
June 3, 2019; 6:30 pm
Ages 5 and up
Limited Tickets are available and start at $128.50 (for VIP Packages)

Nickelodeon star and YouTube sensation JoJo Siwa is embarking on her first multi-city, live concert tour: Nickelodeon’s JoJo Siwa D.R.E.A.M. The Tour with special guests The Belles including a stop at the Des Moines Civic Center.

​The Diary of Anne Frank – Main Season

Ankeny Community Theatre, Ankeny
June 7-16, 2019; Show times are Thursday and Fridays at 7:30 pm, and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm.
Rated PG
Tickets are Adult $15, Senior (60+) $12, Child (grades K-12) $10.

​ During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, Anne Frank began to keep a diary on June 14, 1942, two days after her 13th birthday, and 22 days before going into hiding with her mother, father, sister, and three other people. The group went into hiding in the sealed-off upper rooms of the annex of her father’s office building in Amsterdam. The rooms also contained a hidden door that the Franks hid behind when Nazi soldiers were investigating the buildings for harbored Jews. They remained hidden for two years and one month, until their betrayal in August 1944, which resulted in their deportation to Nazi concentration camps. Adapted from Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, edited by Otto Frank.

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka Jr – Mainstage

CAP Theatre, Altoona
June 7-16, 2019; Friday and Saturday at 7:00 pm; Sunday at 2:30 pm.
Ages 3 and up
Tickets start at $10

The delicious adventures experienced by Charlie Bucket on his visit to Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory light up the stage in this captivating adaptation of Roald Dahl’s fantastical tale. Featuring the enchanting songs from the 1971 film starring Gene Wilder in addition to a host of fun new songs, Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka JR. is a scrumdidilyumptious musical guaranteed to delight everyone’s sweet tooth.

Star Wars: A New Hope – In Concert

Civic Center, Des Moines
June 7-8, 2019; Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm and Saturday at 1:30 pm
Ages 5 and up
Tickets start at $40

Experience Star Wars like never before! Jump in the Millennium Falcon and journey to Tatooine, Alderaan and beyond with a complete showing of Star Wars: A New Hope in high-definition, on a giant screen, with John Williams’ Oscar®-winning score played live by the Des Moines Symphony. Luke Skywalker leaves his home planet, battles the evil empire and learns the ways of the Force in the iconic film that started it all.

Too Heavy for Your Pockets – Pyramid Theatre Company

Stoner Theater, Des Moines
June 7 – 22, 2019; Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm
Ages 5 and up
Tickets TBD

From the mind of Pyramid Theatre Company’s Founding Artistic Director Member and rising national playwright Jireh Breon Holder comes Too Heavy For Your Pocket. In the summer of 1961, the Freedom Riders are embarking on a courageous journey into the Deep South. When twenty-year-old Bowzie Brandon gives up a life-changing college scholarship to join the movement, he’ll have to convince his loved ones—and himself—that shaping his country’s future might be worth jeopardizing his own. The interactive direction from Producing Artistic Director Tiffany Johnson brings audiences right into the thick of the Civil Rights movement and provides lens to the Black experience in times injustice.

How I Learned What I Learned – Pyramid Theatre Company

Stoner Theater, Des Moines
June 8- 23, 2019; Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm
Ages 5 and up
Tickets TBD

From the Pulitzer Prize winner who brought the world Fences and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Pyramid Theatre Company returns to our August Wilson roots (Fences 2014). The life of the playwright August Wilson is brought to us in a one-man show filled with laughs and contemplation in which Wilson reflects on his experiences in everyday life and within the arts, specifically his inspiration and completion of the infamous Pittsburgh Cycle. With direction from the Cloris Leachman Award Nominee Tiffany Johnson, audiences get an inside look and experience the life of one of the greatest Black playwrights in American history drafted from his own words.

Best Shows for DSM Kids and Families for Summer 2019 –

Macbeth – Iowa Stage Theatre Co.

Salisbury House Lawn
June 12-16, 2019; 7:30 pm
Ages 8 and up
Tickets Adults $30; Student (ages 13 and up) $20; Children (ages 6-12) $10.00; Children 5 years and under are FREE.

This story of unadulterated ambition, black magic, and brutal chaos will ignite in the dark of night in the shadow of of the looming Salisbury House Castle. Set in medieval Scotland and partly based on a true historical account, MacBeth charts the bloody rise to power and tragic downfall of the warrior Macbeth, backed by his brilliant and ruthless wife, and surrounded by magic and chaos.

The Play That Goes Wrong

Civic Center, Des Moines
June 25-30, 2019
Ages 5 and up
Tickets start at $36

What would happen if Sherlock Holmes and Monty Python had an illegitimate Broadway baby? You’d get “The Play That Goes Wrong”, Broadway & London’s award-winning smash comedy! Called “A Gut-Busting Hit” (The New York Times) and “The Funniest Play Broadway Has Ever Seen” (HuffPost), this classic murder mystery is chock-full of mishaps and madcap mania delivering “A Riotous Explosion of Ccomedy” (Daily Beast). Welcome to opening night of The Murder at Haversham Manor where things are quickly going from bad to utterly disastrous. With an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors who trip over everything (including their lines), it’s “Tons Of Fun For All Ages” (HuffPost) and “Comic Gold” (Variety) – sure to bring down the house!


Disney’s Newsies – Main Stage

Des Moines Playhouse
July 12 – August 4, 2019:  Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm
Ages 5 and up
Tickets start at $29

These kids deliver! This smash hit Broadway musical, based on the 1992 film, is inspired by the New York newsboys’ strike of 1899. Publishing giants Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the expense of the delivery boys, Jack Kelly and friends, all teenage “newsies.” As Jack dreams of leaving the city to escape his orphaned and poverty-stricken life he meets Katherine Plumber, the young reporter interested in getting an exclusive for the Sun, who join together to fight for what’s right. Filled with high-energy action and dance numbers, this musical comedy-drama is fun for the whole family.

Annie – Urbandale Community Theatre

Franklin Jr. High, Des Moines
July 19-28, 2019; Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 pm
All ages
Tickets are $30

Based on the popular comic strip by Harold Gray, Annie has become a worldwide phenomenon and was the winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The beloved book and score by Tony Award winners, Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, features some of the greatest musical theatre hits ever written, including “Tomorrow.”

Much Ado About Nothing – CAP Theatre

Haines Park, Altoona
July 25-28, 2019; 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.

Much Ado About Nothing is one of the most popular comedic plays by William Shakespeare about misunderstandings, love and deception. Benedick, Claudio and Don Pedro arrive at Leonato’s house in Messina. Beatrice and Benedick bicker with each other and Claudio, a soldier, falls in love with Leonato’s daughter, Hero. Don John, who is Don Pedro’s evil half-brother, tricks Claudio into believing that he has seen Hero being unfaithful. Meanwhile, Don Pedro and others plot to bring Benedick and Beatrice together. Claudio accuses Hero of infidelity and refuses to marry her. Leonato is persuaded to pretend that she is dead. Hero’s innocence is proven, and Claudio repents. He agrees to accept Antonio’s daughter in marriage, and she turns out to be Hero after all! The trick to make Benedick and Beatrice fall in love succeeds and he proposes to her at the end of the play.

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.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Carousel Theatre of Indianola

Indianola High School, Indianola
July 26 – August 4, 2019; Showtimes are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:00 pm and Sunday at 2:00 pm
Ages 5 and up
Tickets can be purchased at the door.

Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney animated feature, The Hunchback of Notre Dame showcases the film’s Academy Award-nominated score, as well as new songs by Menken and Schwartz. Peter Parnell’s new book embraces story theatre and features verbatim passages from Hugo’s gothic novel. The musical begins as the bells of Notre Dame sound through the famed cathedral in fifteenth-century Paris. Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer who longs to be “Out There,” observes all of Paris reveling in the Feast of Fools. Held captive by his devious caretaker, the archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, he escapes for the day and joins the boisterous crowd, only to be treated cruelly by all but the beautiful gypsy, Esmeralda. Quasimodo isn’t the only one captivated by her free spirit, though – the handsome Captain Phoebus and Frollo are equally enthralled. As the three vie for her attention, Frollo embarks on a mission to destroy the gypsies – and it’s up to Quasimodo to save them all.

13 The Musical – Des Moines Young Artists’ Theatre

Stoner Theater, Des Moines
July 26 – August 14, 2019; Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm
Ages 5 and up
Tickets start at $24.50

Evan Goldman is plucked from his fast-paced, preteen New York City life and plopped into a sleepy Indiana town following his parents’ divorce. Surrounded by an array of simpleminded middle school students, he needs to establish his place in the popularity pecking order. With his bar mitzvah just around the corner, can he find his place at his new school, adjust to his new normal and throw a legendary party? From multiple Tony Award-winner Jason Robert Brown, 13 is the pop-rock musical about growing up, fitting in and standing out.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Main Season

Ankeny Community Theatre, Ankeny
August 2-11, 2019; Show times are Thursday and Fridays at 7:30 pm, and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm.
Rated PG
Tickets are Adult $15, Senior (60+) $12, Child (grades K-12) $10.

​​A comedy written by William Shakespeare in 1595-96, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” centers around the marriage of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the former queen of the Amazons. It includes the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest. The play is one of Shakespeare’s most popular works for the stage and is widely performed across the world.

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



What shows are your family planning to see this summer in Des Moines? Let us know in the Comments below!

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