Thursday, January 26, 2017

DES MOINES, IA - Des Moines Performing Arts is thrilled to announce a sensory-friendly initiative as part of the Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Family Series, starting with two performances this spring: THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES (March 26) and GRUG AND THE RAINBOW (April 15). Both performances will be at 11 a.m. at the Temple Theater.

Sensory-friendly performances are geared towards those on the autism spectrum, individuals with other sensory sensitivities and their families. These dedicated performances will contain all the joy of a typical theater setting with a few adjustments to help those in attendance feel more comfortable. This will include alterations to light and sound, a variety of seating options, an environment that will encourage movement and breaks when needed, ASL interpretation, and inclusive staff that will welcome guests from the moment they arrive. Families who do not require these accommodations are still welcome to attend.

“We are committed to making performances accessible to as many community members as possible. We know that for many families going to the theater can be an overwhelming experience for those with sensory sensitivities; these dedicated performances aim to remove some of those barriers, allowing families to experience the power of the arts together” explains Jeff Chelesvig, Des Moines Performing Arts President & CEO. 


March 26, 2017

11 a.m. Sensory-friendly performance 

1 p.m.  Public performance

Recommended for the entire family!

This uplifting tale celebrates the difference one man (and his dog!) can make to the world. Based on an award-winning book, this story about environmental responsibility follows a French shepherd’s quest to transform a barren wasteland by planting a forest acorn by acorn. This enchanting multi-sensory play invites you to hear the wind, feel the rain, smell the lavender and most of all – to laugh with Dog, the funniest canine you’ll ever meet! 

In 1957, author Jean Giono said: “I wrote this story to make people love trees, or more precisely to make people love planting trees. Of all my stories it is one of the ones of which I am most proud. It has never earned me a penny and for that reason it has accomplished the very purpose for which it was written.”

This production is much more than a story about planting trees: it is a wonderful parable of life, the tale of a human being who saw a need and decided not to ignore it but to “put things right”. The story is also known as “The Man Who Planted Hope and Reaped Happiness” and it holds an increasingly vital message for this generation.


April 15, 2017

11 a.m. Sensory-friendly performance

1 p.m.  Public performance

Recommended for younger audiences

Grug (the “Elmo of Down Under”) began his life as the grassy top of a Burrawang tree – now he’s back by popular demand in a new production full of new surprises. Watch in wonder as he embarks on an epic journey to find the rainbow that always seems just beyond his grasp. Luckily Grug is full of determination and his adventures are always fun!

Featuring exquisite puppetry and more of the gentle storytelling that has delighted audiences around the world, this brand new show has been especially created for the next generation of our littlest theatregoers (and those who just love Grug).

Children’s author Ted Prior first created the fictional character, Grug, while he was living with his family on a small farm in rural New South Wales, Australia. At the time, Prior had just started to read stories to his two young children, and he decided to invent an imaginary bush animal that he could write an original story about. This central character would become known as Grug.

Prior's first Grug children's book was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1979. This was followed by the release of more than 20 highly-popular and much-loved Grug picture books by 1992. Due to Grug's lasting popularity, the original book series has since been republished by Simon & Schuster (2009 - present) and new titles have been released. To date, 30 Grug books have been published.

Tickets to THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES and GRUG AND THE RAINBOW are available at, the Civic Center Ticket Office, by phone at (515) 246-2300 or on the Des Moines Performing Arts app (available for Android and IOS users).

For more information about these two sensory-friendly performances, please visit

About Des Moines Performing Arts

Des Moines Performing Arts is a private not-for-profit organization celebrating 37 years of presenting the performing arts to Iowa and the surrounding states on four stages in Des Moines – the Civic Center, the Stoner Theater, the Temple Theater and the newly renovated outdoor space, Cowles Commons. Des Moines Performing Arts is a presenter of major Broadway and educational touring companies, performers and groups, and is home to many local and regional groups, including the Des Moines Symphony. All performances of the Broadway Series are supported by Willis Auto Campus. All performances at the Temple Theater are supported by Prairie Meadows. All performances of the Family Series are supported by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. For more information, visit


Des Moines Performing Arts
aspires to be a national leader in presenting the performing arts by engaging the Midwest in world-class entertainment, education, and cultural activities.
  • Des Moines Performing
    Arts Partnerships:
Des Moines Performing Arts is a private 501 (C) (3) not-for-profit corporation presenting the performing arts to Iowa and the surrounding states. It is the presenter of major Broadway and educational touring companies, performers and groups, and is the performing home of many local and regional groups, including the Des Moines Symphony. Events, dates, times, performers and prices subject to change without notice.
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