School Matinees


Make a lasting impression by expanding your classroom with a visit to the Des Moines Community Playhouse. Students, many having never seen live theatre before, come with wide-eyed wonder. When the lights dim, they see a favorite story in a new way, visit new lands, imagine lives different from their own, encounter new experiences, and grow.

We’re proud to offer a literature-based season and pleased to be your partner in creating a rich educational environment for your class. Through your visit to the Playhouse, students are encouraged to read, develop creative thinking skills, and be curious about their world.

What else makes the Playhouse visit unique?

  • The Playhouse provides short, 5-10 minute question-and-answer sessions immediately following each school matinee performance.
  • Each child attending the show receives P. Bill Jr., a program with background information on the book’s author as well as language arts exercises.
  • No student is more than 7 rows away from the stage in the Kate Goldman Children’s Theatre. The Mainstage is also an intimate setting, with only 399 total seats.
  • Convenient, easy access parking on site.
  • Robin Spahr, education director, is your personal contact. She will take your reservation, answer any questions you have, and greet you and your students when you come to the theatre! Robin can be reached at 515-974-5365,


2018-19 School Matinee Schedule

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Presented by Nationwide

They showed up for the free cookies and stayed, much to the town’s dismay.
Now in its 18th year, the Des Moines Community Playhouse offers one of the community’s most beloved performance traditions: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. In this hilarious holiday classic, a mother struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids, the most inventively awful kids in history. You won’t believe the mayhem – and the fun – when the Herdmans collide with the Christmas story head on! Based on the book by Barbara Robinson

Recommended grades: K-8
School matinee: 9:30 AM & Noon, Nov. 12-13, 2018
Public performances: Nov. 2-25, 2018


Elf – The Musical*

It’s a sparklejollytwinklejingley time of the year!
Elf has quickly become a modern Christmas classic! Based on the 2003 film, Elf – The Musical tells the story of Buddy, a human raised as an elf at the North Pole. Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making skills soon make him realize he’s not fit to live at the North Pole. Buddy travels to New York City where he learns his dad doesn’t believe in Santa Claus! The Playhouse presents the regional debut of this holiday show

Recommended grades: 3-12
School matinee: 9:30 AM, Dec. 10-11, 2018
Public performances: Nov. 30-Dec. 23, 2018

*Elf – The Musical has a running time of approximately 2 hours


The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane**
Presented by Nationwide

Friendship is the true adventure.
Based on Kate DiCamillo’s book, this is a story of friendship and finding oneself. Edward Tulane is a very happy and very self-centered toy rabbit. After accidentally being tossed from a boat, Edward goes on a journey of discovery, meeting many characters including a hobo, a fisherman, and a four-year-old girl with tuberculosis. Over the course of his adventures, Edward finally learns how to love and care for others.

Recommended grades: 3-8
School matinee: 9:30 AM & Noon, Jan. 14-15, 2019
Public performances: Jan. 4-20, 2019

**As in the book, Edward’s journey takes him into experiences that include some violence and the death of a character. Some children may find these scenes to be sad or emotionally disturbing.


Judy Moody & Stink: The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt
Presented by Nationwide

Join Judy and Stink for their swashbuckling adventures on Artichoke Island!
Based on the hit children’s book series by Megan McDonald, the whole family will love joining in the adventure as Judy and Stink find hidden clues, unlock secret codes, and solve tricky puzzles.

Recommended grades: K-5
School matinee: 9:30 AM & Noon, Mar. 4-5, 2019
Public performances: Feb. 22-Mar. 10, 2019


Ella Enchanted
Presented by Nationwide

A fairy tale with girl-power!
Ella was given the “gift” of obedience as a baby and must obey any direct order, no matter how ridiculous. When circumstances change, Ella becomes a servant in her own home. She begins her search for a way to break her childhood curse and pursue her dreams. Don’t miss this girl-power spin on the Cinderella story that’s a fairy tale like no other.

Recommended grades: 2-8
School matinee: 9:30 AM & Noon, May 6-7, 2019
Public performances: Apr. 26-May 12, 2019

To make your reservations, contact Robin Spahr, education director, at 515-974-5365.

Reservations for Weekday Matinees
IT’S AS EASY AS 1, 2, 3

1. Count ’em up!
Groups of 15 or more are $7 per person
Reduced rates are available to students who receive free or reduced lunches. Please make requests for discounted tickets at the time of the reservation.

2. Get in touch!
Robin Spahr, education director, provides personal service to make your visit to the Playhouse an experience you and your students won’t forget! Our matinees sell out early, so call now!

3. Get the ball rollin’!
After your reservation we will send you an invoice. A deposit is due at that time and is required to hold your reservation. The full amount is due 30 days prior to the performance. If the amount is not paid, the tickets will be released. Depending on the availability of seating you may change your numbers up to 45 days prior to the performance. After that you will be financially responsible for the number you have reserved. Once tickets have been purchased, they are non-refundable. Performances typically last 90 minutes.


Educator Perks: The Inside Scoop

Workshops and Tours: To arrange an extended experience at the Playhouse, contact Robin Spahr, education director, at 515-974-5365.

Lunch Space: A limited number of rooms are available to schools needing space where students can eat a sack lunch. Space is subject to availability, and arrangements must be made in advance with Robin Spahr, education director, at 515-974-5365.


Evening/Weekend Events

Some classes have found attending an evening or weekend performance works better in schedules than a school matinee. Most children’s theatre productions have performances 7:00 PM Friday, and 1:00 PM  and 4:00 PM Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for groups of 15+ attending public performances are $18 for adults and $15 for students. Click here for a complete list of Kate Goldman Children’s Theatre shows.

High School drama, vocal music, and English classes can enjoy an evening or weekend trip to the Playhouse for our Mainstage shows. Tickets start at $25. Show times are 7:30 PM Wednesday-Saturday, and 2:00 PM Sunday. The Family Holiday Classic show times are 7:00 PM Wednesday-Friday, and 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM Saturday-Sunday. Click here for a complete list of Mainstage shows.

Group (15+) tickets for evening and weekend performances are available by contacting Lee Ann Bakros, group sales director, at 515-974-5358.


Spotlight Literacy: Actors in the Classroom

Life-long readers are people who perceive significant benefit from reading literature. Young people learning to read and write benefit greatly from seeing their literature brought to life. Performing, creative drama, playwriting, discussion, and critical review are all ways in which children and adults alike can become involved on a personal level with theatre’s literature. It is our goal to provide a strong link between the page and stage.

  • For each of the shows in the season, we designate a Spotlight School. The deciding factor is usually the number of free or reduced priced tickets requested by a school.
  • Before the performance, actors from the show visit the classroom. They read from the book upon which the show is based, answer questions and give a copy of the book to each child, which is theirs to keep.
  • The children attend the show and receive P. Bill Jr., a program with language arts exercises.
  • After attending the show, the children write letters to the actors with a brief review and a couple of questions. About a week later, each child receives a written response from the actors.
  • Each season, we give away more than 500 books and 1000 letters pass back and forth between schoolchildren and our actors!

If you would like to be considered a Spotlight School, please contact Robin Spahr, education director, 515-974-5365, to inquire about this very special educational experience.


School Matinee Sponsors

Reduced ticket prices for students who qualify under free or reduced price lunch guidelines are made possible by:

  • Bravo Greater Des Moines
    • Altoona, Ankeny, Bondurant, Carlisle, Clive, Des Moines, Grimes, Indianola, Johnston, Norwalk, Polk City, Polk County, Urbandale, Waukee, West Des Moines, Windsor Heights
  • Kate Goldman Education Fund
  • Prairie Meadows
  • Variety – the Children’s Charity