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Riverside Theatre Blog

18/19 RiverDog Raffle!

May 4, 2018 - 4:01 PM
rd raffle

Riverside's Summer 2018

April 24, 2018 - 3:08 PM


Riverside Theatre will be back at the Lower City Park with Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Sean Lewis!

Set in the backlots of MGM Movie Studios right after World War 2, love and frivolity are in the air when Don Pedro’s army, drunk with victory, descends upon Leonato’s country estate in Messina. Traveling with him is Claudio, who wants to marry Leonato’s daughter Hero. Meanwhile, Claudio’s friend Benedick and Leonato’s lively niece Beatrice (think Liz Taylor and Richard Burton) hide their mutual attraction behind a volley of witty insults. But their world is shattered when Claudio, influenced by a scheming malcontent, levels a shocking accusation at Hero. A linguistically challenged security guard and his sidekicks uncover the plot, casting a beam of hopefulness in this tempestuous landscape of love.

Much Ado About Nothing will be performed on the following dates at 7:30pm. This event is free and there is no ticket required.

Friday, June 15
Saturday, June 16 
Sunday, June 17
Thursday, June 21
Friday, June 22
Saturday, June 23
Sunday, June 24

We will continue our summer season at out Gilbert St. theatre with Patrick Barlow's The 39 Steps.

Who should you trust? Who cares, when it’s this fun!

Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python, and you have The 39 Steps, a fast-paced whodunit for anyone who loves the magic of theatre. The Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning treat features over 150 zany characters played by a talented four-person cast and is packed with nonstop laughs, complete with an on-stage plane crash, missing fingers, and, of course, some good old-fashioned romance. This unforgettable play is pure entertainment, with a riotous blend of virtuoso performances and wildly inventive stagecraft.

The 39 Steps will be performed at our Gilbert St. theatre on following dates. Tickets will go on sale on Wednesday, April 25, 2018.

Friday, June 29 at 7:30pm
Saturday, June 30 at 7:30pm
Sunday, July 1 at 2pm

Thursday, July 5 at 7:30pm
Friday, July 6 at 7:30pm
Saturday, July 7 at 7:30pm
Sunday, July 8 at 2pm

Thursday, July 12 at 7:30pm
Friday, July 13 at 7:30pm
Saturday, July 14 at 7:30pm
Sunday, July 15 at 2pm

Thursday, July 19 at 7:30pm
Friday, July 20 at 7:30pm
Saturday, July 21 at 7:30pm
Sunday, July 22 at 2pm

Talk Backs with Miriam Gilbert

October 11, 2017 - 11:12 AM

We know you've been waiting...
So, here is the full schedule of talk backs with Miriam Gilbert!

Circle Mirror Transformation | Thursday, Oct 26 
Lungs | Thursday, Dec 7
Detroit | Thursday, Feb 8 
Apples in Winter | Thursday, March 8 
Ears on a Beatle | Thursday, April 19  

Join Miriam and the cast after the performance and don't forget Thirsty Theatre Thursdays - your ticket for a Thursday show comes with a free drink!
Miriam Gilbert is Professor of English (Emerita) at the University of Iowa, where she taught Shakespeare for 44 years. Her primary interest, both as a teacher and a scholar, concerns Shakespeare in performance, and she indulges that interest with a second home in Stratford-upon-Avon. She has co-edited literature anthologies for both secondary and college students. Her work with performance has been the focus of many workshops and seminars, including eight seminars sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Talk Back with Miriam Gilbert

September 26, 2017 - 3:59 PM

Talk Back with Miriam Gilbert

Thursday, 9/28 after the 7:30 performance

Join Miriam Gilbert, Sean Lewis, Kristy Hartsgrove Mooers and Tim Budd in talk back on Bakersfield Mist!

This talk back is a unique opportunity to talk to artists and theatre experts and gain insight into the production of this play. You are welcome even if you previously attneded the show, and don't forget - this is a Thirsty Theatre Thursday! Every ticket comes with a free drink!

Miriam Gilbert is Professor of English (Emerita) at the University of Iowa, where she taught Shakespeare for 44 years. Her primary interest, both as a teacher and a scholar, concerns Shakespeare in performance, and she indulges that interest with a second home in Stratford-upon-Avon. She has co-edited literature anthologies for both secondary and college students. Her work with performance has been the focus of many workshops and seminars, including eight seminars sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

17-18 Riverdog Pass

August 10, 2017 - 2:25 PM

We know you'll be excited to hear about what's ahead for
the 17-18 Riverdog Pass!
Artistic Director Sean Christopher Lewis has chosen a thrilling lineup:
  • Bakersfield Mist by Stephen Sachs
  • Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker
  • Lungs by Duncan Macmillan
  • Detroit by Lisa D'Amour
  • Apples in Winter by Jennifer Fawcett (world premiere)
  • Tooth and Nail by Sean Christopher Lewis (world premiere)
The Riverdog pass includes 6-show, 5-show and 4-show options. Choose the plays you want to see, and book the dates later at your convenience.
The more shows you buy, the bigger discount you'll receive, and prices will remain at last season's levels if you purchase now:
  • 6-Show Sept-April pass: just $150, or $25/show-the best deal!
  • 5-Show pass: $130 ($26/show)
  • 4-Show pass: $108 ($27/show)
If you can't use your tickets, you can transfer them to a friend. Riverdogs also receive discounts on beverages in our lobby, as well as discounts at various Northside neighborhood restaurants. (Check our website for participating businesses.)
Read all about the new season at and make sure to get your Riverdog Pass today by calling the Box Office at 319-338-7672.

The Bomb-itty of Errors Moving Indoors

June 19, 2017 - 5:35 PM

The Bomb-itty of Errors Moving Indoors

A Note by Sean Lewis:

I want to first say thanks to everyone who came and saw Macbeth. We were incredibly proud of that production and the amount of interaction we have had with audience members on our Facebook page, email, and Twitter has been amazing, far beyond our other shows. 

Now, part of my job as the artistic director of the theater is to ensure the greatest product from our artists and the best experience for our patrons. Last week incredible heat followed by nights of thunder and lightning made for a few exciting performances (if not taxing for the actors). Going into The Bomb-itty of Errors with actors microphoned and surrounded by electronics we had to make a decision about whether or not to remain outside.  I had to stay true to those two promisesthe best experience with the most exciting product—and to that end I decided to move The Bomb-itty of Errors indoors for the entirety of its run. (Of course, we will now probably have the most beautiful weather Iowa has seen in fifty years!) Ticketing and times will remain the same and our box office and staff are here to make the transition seamless. 

There are no easy decisions in running a nonprofit theatre. This includes this one. But it's one I believe in and one I know will allow us to deliver the best version of this piece and therefore the best evening for our patrons possible.

Thursday Theatre Talk: 'Riverside Theatre Summer 2017’

May 12, 2017 - 1:18 PM

Riverside Theatre Summer 2017

 "Adaptation" is central to Shakespeare’s playwriting process as he constantly raided and transformed earlier writing: stories, plays, historical chronicles. The Comedy of Errors is based on a Roman comedy (about twins) by Plautus, but Shakespeare doubles the twins and adds in a frame story borrowed from the Scots poet John Gower. Macbeth is based on incidents from Holinshed’s Chronicles—even the witches are there! Our Thursday Theatre Talk will focus on Riverside’s involvement with adaptations of these plays, previewing Sean Lewis’s rethinking of Macbeth and the hip hop play-with-music known as The Bomb-itty of Errors. Join Miriam Gilbert, Sean Lewis, and actors for this discussion on Thursday, May 18, 5–6 p.m. at Riverside Theatre, 213 N. Gilbert St, Iowa City.

 All are welcome to attend this free event.

Questions? Call: 319-338-7672


Miriam Gilbert is Professor of English (Emerita) at the University of Iowa, where she taught Shakespeare for 44 years.  Her primary interest, both as a teacher and a scholar, concerns Shakespeare in performance, and she indulges that interest with a second home in Stratford-upon-Avon. She has written a study of  The Merchant of Venice  for the Shakespeare at Stratford series (Arden Shakespeare and The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust) and  Shakespeare in Performance: Love's Labour's Lost (Manchester University Press, 1993).  She has co-edited literature anthologies for both secondary and college students.  Her work with performance has been the focus of many workshops and seminars, including eight seminars sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Chase Garrett in Concert at Riverside Theatre

May 1, 2017 - 2:56 PM
Chase Garrett

Relativity Talk Back, Friday, April 28, after the performance

April 11, 2017 - 3:38 PM

Relativity Talk Back
Friday, April 28, after the performance

The title of Mark St. Germain’s new play, Relativity, is, we discover, a wonderful pun, since the play focuses on Albert Einstein. But St. Germain is more interested in the personal than the scientific, and writes his play about Einstein as a father, specifically a father whose baby daughter, Lieserl, seemed to disappear from Einstein’s history. In Relativity, St. Germain speculates about what might have happened, and what might happen if the daughter suddenly reappeared to confront her father. Join Miriam Gilbert, Professor Emerita of English, and her colleagues, Diane Jeske, Professor of Philosophy, and Connie Mutel, Senior Science Writer at the UI's IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering and co-author of Hans Albert Einstein: His Life as a Pioneering Engineer, a book dealing with Einstein’s oldest son, as we respond to the ethical and biographical questions raised by this play.   

 Miriam Gilbert is Professor of English (Emerita) at the University of Iowa, where she taught Shakespeare for 44 years. Her primary interest, both as a teacher and a scholar, concerns Shakespeare in performance, and she indulges that interest with a second home in Stratford-upon-Avon. She has co-edited literature anthologies for both secondary and college students. Her work with performance has been the focus of many workshops and seminars, including eight seminars sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

 Diane Jeske is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Iowa. Her research has focussed on the ethics of intimate relationships, examining questions about the nature of love and friendship and what we owe to our near and dear. She has stressed, in her work, the importance of understanding and weighing not only our moral obligations to those we care about but also our obligations to persons and animals more generally. Diane is currently working on a project in which she uses case studies of evil people to show why the study of moral philosophy is a critical component of moral education and of the moral life more generally. 

 Connie Mutel has co-authored (with Robert Ettema) the definitive scientific biography of Albert Einstein's elder son. This book was the product of many years of research, which included discovery of previously unknown family records and interviews with many of the remaining members of Albert's family—a project that some might say was more intriguing than the final publication. Connie has also written or edited numerous books and articles on Midwestern environmental features and problems and is a regular speaker on these topics across the state.

Summer Season Announcement

March 31, 2017 - 11:05 AM


 This summer, Riverside in the Park will present the political tragedy "Macbeth" and the family-friendly hip hop comedy "The Bomb-itty of Errors."

Bomb-itty graphic

 IOWA CITY -- Riverside Theatre is pleased to announce that its 2017 Riverside in the Park summer season at Lower City Park will feature Shakespeare's political tragedy "Macbeth" and "The Bomb-itty of Errors," a hip hop adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors." The summer programming will be rounded out by pre-performance green shows open to the public and pop-up events at the Gilbert Street theater.

 The season will open with "Macbeth," directed by Riverside artistic director Sean Christopher Lewis, who notes that to contemporary ears, "Macbeth" may Shakespeare's most intelligible classic -- as well as one of his most violent. "Macbeth" delivers audiences to "a world at war with an even larger evil on the horizon," says Lewis. "It is a story of ambition and pride and boredom. What happens when people become obsessed and leave their homes and worlds for extended periods of time? When they get used to conflict as the everyday? When there is no nation, no unification and only singular pursuits?" For today's generations of theatregoers, this uncanny tragedy of power struggles and dark politics may appear more prescient than ever.

 In Lewis's bold new staging, "Macbeth" will explore political power on epic and intimate scales. "Macbeth" opens June 9 and runs through June 18 and will star Patrick DuLaney ("A View from the Bridge") and Chicago-based actor Saren Nofs-Snyder as Lord and Lady Macbeth.

 "The Bomb-itty of Errors," a hip hop comedy which premiered in 1999, was written by Jordan Allen-Dutton, Jason Catalano, Erik Weiner, Gregory J. Qaiyum and Jeffrey Qaiyum (the Qaiyum brothers are better known for their work leading the Q Brothers "ad-rap-tation" company). On this shift from Riverside in the Park's typical classical programming, Lewis says, "'Bomb-itty' allows us to present family-friendly fare, bring in a diverse cast and speak in a contemporary form. The park should be an inclusive space across age and race -- this show is a good invitation to viewers and actors alike." The bridge between Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors" and rap, Lewis notes, is an exploration of self and family: "Hip hop is all about identity -- where am I from, what is my name, what do I represent and what is real? 'The Comedy of Errors' is about the same things. Two sets of twins have been estranged from each other for years and created identities separate from one another. When, by chance, they come face-to-face they have to ask: Who am I? If I'm not wholly unique am I even an individual?"

 "The Bomb-itty of Errors" opens June 23 and runs through July 2 and will star Barrington Vaxter ("Black and Blue" and "The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore"). The show features hip hop, live DJing and four actors shifting between twelve characters. "The Bomb-itty of Errors" is sure to delight families, rap aficionados and fans of "Hamilton" and "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" alike.

 Patrick DuLaney's Riverside credits include Eddie Carbone in "A View from the Bridge" and Bottom in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Friar Laurence in "Romeo and Juliet" and Costard in "Love's Labour's Lost" for Riverside in the Park. He has also acted in Old Creamery Theatre and City Circle Acting Company productions. National credits include the title roles in "Macbeth" and "Floyd Collins," Mr. Zero in The Hypocrites' acclaimed Chicago production of "The Adding Machine" and a national tour of "Gypsy." He is a founding member of the Alaska Shakespeare Festival.

 Saren Nofs-Snyder is a Jeff-nominated, Chicago-based actress. She teaches at the Chicago Academy for the Arts. Saren has worked with companies including Lookingglass Theatre, Piven Theatre Ensemble, Next Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare, New Leaf, BoHo, First Folio, Remy Bumpo and Circle Theatre where she appeared as Mrs. Cheveley in "An Ideal Husband," a role which earned her a Jeff nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress. Regionally Saren has worked with the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Notre Dame Shakespeare, Artists Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Rep, Michigan Shakespeare Festival, Pioneer Theatre company and many others.

 Barrington Vaxter is an actor from Iowa City, Iowa. Recent roles include Marcus Gentry in Riverside's "Black and Blue," a national tour of Working Group Theatre's "Out of Bounds" and the title role in Working Group Theatre's adaptation of "The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore" at the Englert Theatre.

 "Macbeth," directed by Sean Christopher Lewis and starring Patrick DuLaney and Saren Nofs-Snyder, opens June 9 and runs through June 18 in Iowa City's Lower City Park. "The Bomb-itty of Errors," starring Barrington Vaxter, opens June 23 and runs through July 2 in Lower City Park. Both productions are sponsored by Oaknoll.

Tickets will go on sale this month so check back in soon or follow us on Facebook! Feel free to call our box office at (319) 338-7672 or email [email protected]  for more information!

 Show dates:


 Friday, June 9, 8 p.m.

Saturday, June 10, 8 p.m.

Sunday, June 11, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, June 13, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, June 14, 8 p.m.

Thursday, June 15, 8 p.m.

Friday, June 16, 8 p.m.

Saturday, June 17, 8 p.m.

Sunday, June 18, 7 p.m.


"The Bomb-itty of Errors"

 Friday, June 23, 8 p.m.

Saturday, June 24, 8 p.m.

Sunday, June 25, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, June 27, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, June 28, 8 p.m.

Thursday, June 29, 8 p.m.

Friday, June 30, 8 p.m.

Saturday, July 1, 8 p.m.

Sunday, July 2, 7 p.m.

Curious about Lady Macbeth and Her Pal, Megan?

February 21, 2017 - 2:10 PM

Curious about Lady Macbeth and Her Pal, Megan?

Here's what Megan has to say:  

"Before the election, I really wanted to tell this story. Now, I really need to." 

—with Charity Nebbe on IPR's Talk of Iowa

"It's about hilarious things like sexism, the femme fatale, and how we view powerful women . . . and unpacking it all through my signature hilarity."

—with Dennis Green on KCCK's Culture Crawl

 "If you're nervous about the Shakespeare, don't worry."

—on KCOB's Let's Talk

A View from the Bridge Reviews

January 27, 2017 - 11:59 AM

In its second week, A View from the Bridge is stunning audiences and garnering ardent reviews from critics. Of the "electric, inspiring, and devastating" production, Little Village Magazine's Sarah Jarmon writes, "I cannot stress this enough: You should experience this play for yourself." Iowa Theatre Blog's Michele Payne notes that the show is "stark, compelling, and hot": "It's impossible to turn away from DuLaney's Eddie. . . . You should go see it."

A View from the Bridge - Director's Staging Note

January 17, 2017 - 3:23 PM

Immigration narratives feel like ghost stories to me.

They haunt us.

We all come from them but we fear them. We know the lessons of them but we play out the same cycles over and over again. It was a crazy idea but I put it to my designers- what if this were a ghost story. What if it was a Greek tragedy that played out over and over throughout history, but the ethnicities changed? What if these people were trapped in this tragic limbo forever?

I had gotten obsessed with how people come to America. I’d seen Body Cam footage on YouTube of people from South America stuffed into a transport truck, their bodies literally spilling out when the doors opened. I thought about my Irish relatives coming over on boats, stowed away between freight. I thought about how immigrants have traveled for centuries, the unwanted, hide among goods and commerce. So, I wanted a set that reflected this, something open and ghostly, Greek and purgatorial: a void that seemed to go on forever, but populated with boxes, belongings and shipments.

I put the challenge to the actors: you’ll be naked up there, so you have to be big and you have to be honest. I thought about Greek tragedies (the way Arthur Miller, himself, described this play) and the way the tragedy of a single man never stopped at the man. Oedipus brings a plague upon Greece. Eddie Carbone brings a pox upon all of us. The cast is great. And the cast was brave. I told them: “This is not going to be your typical Miller. Oh, and also, this could fail miserably.”

Because I believe theater has no place being done if it can’t. If it is not tempting failure, theater becomes stasis. It becomes the same people in the same rooms forever with the same fears having the same conversations.

In a world where we can so easily treat goods better than people, I think a little risk is necessary. No, let me correct that.

A lot of risk.


 Or else we deserve to be haunted.

 Sean Christopher Lewis

Praise for 'Every Brilliant Thing'

November 28, 2016 - 8:06 AM

"Every Brilliant Thing" scored more than just a sellout crowd on opening night. It also earned praise from reviewer Rachel Korach Howell of Little Village Magazine. Howell writes, "Great theatre doesn’t need bells and whistles to affect an audience. It just needs to be real." Read her full review here.

"Every Brilliant Thing" continues through Dec. 11.

Chatting with Little Village Magazine

November 23, 2016 - 11:44 AM

Genevieve Trainor of Little Village Magazine spoke with director Sean Christopher Lewis ahead of Saturday's opening of "Every Brilliant Thing." Check out Little Village's preview here.

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