Founded in 1996, the StageWest Theatre Company has enjoyed an exciting history in Des Moines, IA and we look forward to serving the artistic community of Central Iowa for many years to come.

StageWest History/Timeline

  • 1995 – StageWest is born in the living room of Ron Lambert with founders Tom Blackett, Pat Henson, Jim Jacobson, Laurince D. McElroy, and in memory: Anne Juneau, Nancy Schneider
  • 1996 – The premiere production of Voices That Care: Stories and Encouragements for People with AIDS/HIV and Those Who Care for Them, an adaptation for the stage written by StageWest Sponsored by the AIDS Project of Central Iowa, written by founding member Laurince D. McElroy, presented at the First Unitarian Church.
  • 1997 – StageWest presents its first play at the Civic Center’s Stoner Theater, the American premiere of Out of Spite: Tales of Survival in Sarajevo, based on the diaries of Elma Softic, during the Bosnian war of the early 1990s.
  • 1998 – StageWest officially becomes the resident theater company of the Des Moines Civic Center.
  • April 1999 – Becomes a 501c3 Non-profit organization.
  • 2000 – StageWest produces the musical HAIR directed by Max Schaeffer. That production is the biggest sell out to date for the Company.
  • February 2002 – StageWest is the first Theatre Company in Iowa to produce The Laramie Project. Directed by Thomas Perrine, it is a powerful play about the murder of Matthew Shepard. This production plays to sell out houses its entire run!
  • April 2002 – StageWest produces Race (Die Rassen) directed by Thea Albert. A new adaptation of a banned 1933 German play of the same name by Ferdinand Bruckner. Barry Edelstein adapted this version while he was the artistic director of Classic Stage Theatre in NYC. Barry came to visit StageWest and see his production.
  • September 2002 – One year after 9/11,StageWest is one of the first theatres in the country to present The Guys, directed by Thea Albert. A play about an editor and Captain of a firehouse in New York City as they recount the tragedy of 9/11 and memorialize the lives of many of the firemen they lost.
  • October 2002 – Hedwig and the Angry Inch directed by Todd Buchacker, takes the stage at StageWest to sell out crowds and rave reviews.
  • 2002 – Scriptease begins; StageWest’s play reading series. Past program directors are Todd Buchacker, Ron Gilbert, and Ben Raanan. Scriptease is still going strong in 2014 with Michael Tallman as director.
  • January 2005 – StageWest first collaboration with the Des Moines Community Playhouse is a success. The Exonerated, directed by Todd Buchacker.
  • July 2005 – Founding Artistic Director Ron Lambert and Executive Director Ron Ziegler start the Des Moines Fringe Festival; it has a successful 3-year run.
  • Fall 2007 – StageWest produces Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2 in repertory after their successful run of Angels in America Part 1: The Millennium Approaches in 2006.
  • 2008 – StageWest is picked at the Stoner Studio Theater at the Civic Center for doing Jerry Springer the Opera, co-directed by Karla Kash and Todd Buchacker.
  • June 2009 – StageWest produces The History Boys, directed by Brad Dell, breaks all box office records for a play at StageWest and is met with critical acclaim.
  • October 12th 2009 – StageWest is one of 150 of theatres around the world to present The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, directed by Thomas Perrine and co-produced with the Des Moines Playhouse. A sequel to The Laramie Project 11 years after the murder of Matthew Shepard.
  • 2009 – Paul Ferrone comes onboard as StageWest’s management consultant.
  • 2010 – StageWest engages the Des Moines Community Foundation to serve as the company’s accounting firm.
  • August 2010 – The Iowa premiere of Bill W and Dr. Bob, directed by Karla Kash. With funding support from Powell Chemical Dependency at Iowa Health Systems, now Unity Point, Bill W and Dr. Bob was a sold out run exceeding all expectations!
  • Spring 2011 – Bryan Doty is hired as Admin Assistant and is still with StageWest as the Business Manager, stag blood expert.
  • June and July 2011 – StageWest produces the Beauty Plays by Neil LaBute in repertory: Reasons to be Pretty, Directed by Todd Buchacker, Fat Pig, directed by Brad Dell, and The Shape of Things, directed by Jennifer Nostrala.
  • 2011/2012 Season – StageWest and founding Artistic Director Ron Lambert celebrate its 15th anniversary, no small feat in the non-profit theatre world. The season was as follows: Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill in repertory, Next Fall, Parade, In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play, The Divine Sister. What a great season that was!
  • October 2012 – Evil Dead the Musical, directed by Stacy Brothers, sets the record for ticket sales for a musical at StageWest Theatre Company! Twenty plus gallons of stage blood will get people in the door, thanks Bryan Doty.
  • 2013/2014 Season – Ron Lambert, Founding Artistic Director leaves StageWest. The StageWest board of directors conducts a national search for a new artistic director. Todd Buchacker is hired in April of 2014 to be the new Producing Artistic Director. StageWest produces Avenue Q and it sells out every performance making it the best-attended show in the 17-year history of StageWest. A professional advertising company is hired, c(3) Marketing, to oversee branding and PR work. Office space was rented in the Des Moines Social Club. The Producing Artistic Director and Business Manager office there.
  • 2014/2015 Season – StageWest moves into the Kum & Go Theater and opens the season with Carrie: The Musical. StageWest is now one of three resident theatre companies in the Kum & Go Theater at the Des Moines Social Club, sharing the space with Repertory Theatre of Iowa and Des Moines On-Stage/Young Artists’ Theatre. This is a first in Des Moines history for the theatre arts to have this many theatre companies under one roof.