Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rural Route Film Festival to stop in Denison

First time event for the Donna Reed Theatre
Friday, January 4, and Saturday, January 5

The Donna Reed Foundation is bringing the Rural Route Film Festival to the Donna Reed Theatre in Denison. The evening event will consists of 11 of this year's best short films dealing with rural people and places.

The screening features films ranging in length from 2.5 minutes to 20 minutes and cover a variety of topics.  They include a hunter who undertakes a journey to find a boy who goes missing in the snow-covered wilderness and is feared taken by wolves; a breathtaking flight over the Chilean Patagonian Andes in a small craft piloted by the filmmaker; a bear that finds refuge from a hunter with a pretty girl who lives in the woods; and an accomplished, self-taught guitarist who is also a street sweeper in the city of Norton.

The screenings will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, January 4, and Saturday, January 5. Tickets are $5 and are available through Tikly, by calling The Donna Reed Foundation at 712-263-3334, by e-mail at or at the door of the Donna Reed Theatre.

Learn more about the Rural Route Film Festival.
View the complete list of films.
View the official trailer.

Friday, December 28, 2012

It’s a Wonderful Life: The Little Story That Did

Part Dante, part film noir, part Bible story, Capra’s classic survives its unhappy debut.

“While shaving on the morning of February 28, 1938, a man named Philip got an idea for a short story. The whole thing came to him at once, from beginning to end. It was about the averted suicide of a desperate man named George, who, with a little help from a heavenly friend, finds out what would have happened had he not been born. Excited, Phil hocked his little fable to editors everywhere.

No one wanted it.

But Philip Van Doren Stern never gave up. He printed 200 copies of his 24-page mini-epic and gave them as Christmas gifts to friends, including his Hollywood agent, in 1943. In the parlance of Facebook, this is when it got “liked.” Big-time.”

This is the beginning of an article by Patrick Coffin in the National Review Online describing how an unwanted story eventually was named “America's Most Inspiring Movie” by the American Film Institute.

Read the full article.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

“It's a Wonderful Life” Gets Biggest Audience in Years

TV Guide reports that more than 5.5 million people tuned in to the holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life on NBC Christmas Eve, marking it the biggest audience for Frank Capra's 1946 film in seven years.

Bolstered by those numbers, NBC won Monday evening, with It's a Wonderful Life drawing 5.6 million viewers, its largest audience since 2005, and a 1.5 rating in the adults 18-to-49 demographic. It also makes it the most-watched theatrical movie to play on a broadcast network so far this season, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

“It's A Wonderful Life” Stars Find New Audience

As the Christmas Holiday approaches, stage productions of It's A Wonderful Life and It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play gear up. So do theater screening of the Frank Capra classic movie. Now, over 65 years after it's premiere, two actresses from the film are finding themselves in demand.

Karolyn Grimes - Around 1980, the film started to flourish on television during the holidays thanks to a lapsed copyright, and as it found new generations of fans those fans found Karolyn Grimes. Grimes was cast as George and Mary Bailey's daughter, Zuzu. Today she does frequent appearances in connection with the film. Read an interview with her HERE.

Virginia Patton – Patton played Ruth Dakin Bailey, who marries Harry Bailey, the brother of George Bailey, the film's central figure. It is Ruth who pulls Harry from the family business, Bailey Building and Loan, further trapping the unhappy George there. Patton recently appeared at the Penn Theatre in Plymouth, Mich. in connection with the film. Read an interview with her HERE and HERE.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Five Disk set released in stores and online from MPI Home Video December 4, 2012

THE DONNA REED SHOW SEASON 5 debuts on DVD with all 34 episodes complete and digitally remastered. Among the guest stars are Harvey Korman, Bob Crane, Harold Gould, Jimmy Hawkins, Don Drysdale, Paul Winchell, Jim Davis, Janet Langard, James Stacy, Hayden Rorke and Richard Deacon.

The set includes the hit songs My Dad by Paul Petersen and Big Star by Shelley Fabares! 

Bonus features include:
* New Interviews with PAUL & PATTY PETERSEN
* Original Cast Commercials & Sponsor Billboards
* Vintage Radio Promos
* Public Service Spots by Donna Reed & Paul Petersen
* Le Famille Stone - The Donna Reed Show in French

Friday, November 23, 2012

Catch The Donna Reed Show On MeTV

The Donna Reed Show can now be seen on MeTV and is part of the new line-up launched in September. Check out the network's promo which features Paul Peterson (all grown up) reprising his role as Jeff Stone. Watch it here.

MeTV (Memorable Entertainment Television) is an American broadcast television network owned by Weigel Broadcasting and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The network airs classic television sitcoms, dramas and classic commercials from the 1950s through the 1980s. Its library includes series from Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution and CBS Television Distribution as well as independent series owners and producers.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Free screenings of "It's a Wonderful Life" at the Donna Reed Theatre, December 16

See It's a Wonderful Life as it was meant to be viewed – on the big screen. 
On Sunday, December 16, the classic holiday movie, starring Denison native Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart, will be screened twice – at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Donna Reed Theatre. Free admission.

Bedford Falls display returns.
A miniature replica of Bedford Falls returns to the front window of the Donna Reed Heritage Museum for a winter showing. The HO scale replica was built by model building enthusiast from the Quad Cities area and, for several years, was displayed by the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center in Davenport, Ia. before being donated to the Donna Reed Foundation.

Exhibit on the making of It's a Wonderful Life continues inside.
Step inside the museum and view an expanded exhibit that features a variety of items from the Donna Reed Collection relating to the making of the movie. It includes a letter to pen pal Violet Lindsey mentioning the upcoming filming of the movie; daily call sheets detailing the daily shoot schedule; daily production reports tracking expenses and progress of the filming of a various scenes; Donna Reed's invitation to a screening of the movie from director Frank Capra; and the review of the movie which appeared in Variety. Of particular interest are photos of the new snow-making process developed especially for this film that replaced the practice of using painted cornflakes for falling snow.

Local Actors Return With Old-Time Radio Play For The Holidays

Clarence needs his wings and George Bailey needs… well George needs Clarence. Live out a holiday classic as a part of our "live studio audience" as The Donna Reed Foundation brings back by popular demand, It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, November 30 and December 1. Written by Joe Landry and set in 1946 as a radio broadcast, this heartwarming tale will remind you and yours of the important things in life and send you home laughing, loving and living the magic of Christmas.

Last year's ensemble of eight local actors returns to bring more than three dozen characters to life, employing an array of radio sound effects from on-stage. Audience members will step back in time and experience what it might have been like as part of a live studio audience, as the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds, and he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve.

The production is part of the American Icon Series: Focus on Iowa and features Troy Gehlsen, Al Hazelton, Steven Holt, Braeden Irvine, David Loeschen, Mell Malkey, Kerri Miller and Donna Walker, with Steven Fitzgerald and Darly Philipp doing sound effects and Diane Furne playing piano. Pat Fleshner is the director.

Each performance will begin at 7 p.m. November 30 and December 1 at the historic Donna Reed Theatre, 1305 Broadway, in downtown Denison, Iowa, home of The Donna Reed Foundation and Museum. Tickets are $10 for Adults and $5 for Students (K - 12th grade) and can be obtained by calling The Donna Reed Foundation at 712-263-3334, by e-mail at or by downloading and mailing the ticket order form.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Kristian Day named new Director of Marketing for The Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts

The Donna Reed Foundation has named independent filmmaker and president of Modern American Cinema, Kristian Day, as the Foundation's Director of Marketing for a term of one year. He has been an outspoken advocate for both independent filmmakers and non-corporately owned movie theaters. In his position, he will expand educational and public outreach of the Donna Reed Foundation at state, regional and national levels. 

Day is a 26 year old native of Rock Island, Ill. and went to high school in Cedar Rapids. He attended the University of Colorado at Denver in the Music Industry Studies program. In 2008, he began directing and producing his own movies. His short films have played all over the world including Austria, Greece, and Italy. His films have also been screened at various festivals in cities across the United States including Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.

 In 2010, Day founded Modern American Cinema, a film production and distribution company based in Des Moines. The company has produced and distributed feature length narratives and documentaries to over 60 theaters in the Midwest. The company is most noted for the feature length documentary, Capone's Whiskey: The Story of Templeton Rye and the Iowa Public Television program, Templeton Rye: Iowa's Good Stuff, which were both directed by Day.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Listening To The Still Small Voice – The Story Of George Washington Carver

Second program of “American Icon Series” is October 12th

Iowa educated, George Washington Carver was best known for creating over 300 uses for the peanut. But Carver the man was an agriculture visionary and much more. On Friday night, October 12th at 7 p.m., The Donna Reed Foundation in Denison will host a one-man play celebrating the life of Dr. Carver.

The performance is part of the foundation’s “2012-13 American Icon Series – Focus On Iowa” and will take place at the Donna Reed Theater in downtown Denison. The presenter is Paxton Williams, an Iowa State University graduate – like Dr. Carver, who become interested in the doctor’s work as a student and developed a play titled “Listening To The Still Small Voice – The Story Of George Washington Carver”.

Tickets to “Listening To The Still Small Voice – The Story of George Washington Carver” are $15 each for adults and $5 each for youths 18 and under. Tickets can be obtained by calling the Donna Reed Foundation at 712-263-3334 or by e-mail at More information on the “American Icon Series” is also available on The Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts website and blog,

Performance News Release

Glenn Miller Orchestra fills Donna Reed Theater with memorable music

Photo by Gordon Wolf

First of Donna Reed Foundation’s American Icon: Focus on Iowa series.

The music of the world famous Glenn Miller Orchestra had toes tapping and people swaying in their seats at the Donna Reed Theater, September 21. The audience filled the main floor and spilled over into the balcony as the group filled the theater with their unamplified sound.

The tight performance kept the audience involved and spotlighted the talents of individual orchestra members. Applause greeted many of the musical selections, indicating the group had stirred fond memories.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra, under the direction of Nick Hilscher, consists of five saxophone players, four trumpeters, four trombonists and three rhythm musicians (piano, bass and drums). Two vocalists, one male and one female also accompany the band.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra, formed officially in 1956 under the direction of Ray McKinley, has earned a reputation as a highly disciplined, musical and visually entertaining musical organization. The band currently plays an average of 300 live shows per year in front of millions of fans.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Second Annual "AMERICAN ICON SERIES" Returns to the Donna Reed Theater With An Iowa Focus

Spend an evening with the World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra, hear the life story of George Washington Carver, enjoy a live stage version of “It’s A Wonderful Life", relive the Johnny Carson Show, and then celebrate Iowa’s Music and Musicians.

That’s the lineup of shows The Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts has in store for you as part of the second annual “American Icon Series – Focus On Iowa”. The series features five “Chautauqua-style” events and runs from September, 2012 to March, 2013. The performances include two concerts, a live radio play, and two living history re-enactments, all featuring icons with Iowa ties. 
September 21, 2012 - “The World Famous GLENN MILLER ORCHESTRA” in concert.
October 12, 2012 - “The Story of GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER” with Paxton Williams
November 30 and December 1, 2012 - “It’s A Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play”
February 9, 2013 - “HERE'S JOHNNY!” with Jim Malmberg's re-enactment of The Carson Show.
March 23, 2013 - “AN IOWA SONGBOOK” with area entertainers celebrating Iowa's music history.

Each performance will begin at 7 p.m. at the Donna Reed Theater, 1305 Broadway, in downtown Denison, Iowa, home of The Donna Reed Foundation and Museum.

Season tickets (all five events) are $65 per person and include a free “Youth Pass”  for ages 18 and under. Season tickets must be purchased prior to the first show on September 21st.

Individual show tickets to the "Glenn Miller Orchestra", "George Washington Carver", and "Here’s Johnny" shows are $15 each for adults and $5 each for youths 18 and under. Tickets for the "It’s A Wonderful Life" play and "An Iowa Songbook" are $10 each for adults and $5 for youths 18 and under.

Tickets can be obtained by calling The Donna Reed Foundation at 712-263-3334, by e-mail at or by downloading and mailing the ticket order form.

More about the performances.
More about the artists.
Download a fillable ticket order form to print and mail to the Foundation.

Monday, July 9, 2012

New Exhibit Opens at Donna Reed Heritage Museum

Photo by Librado Romero/New York Times

WW II servicemen write to Donna Reed

A new exhibit entitled, Dear Donna, opened at the Donna Reed Heritage Museum on July 2, 2012. It provides a glimpse into the life of Donna Reed during World War II and features letters written to her by Iowa servicemen.

Visitors will see an issue of the New York Times that announced the discovery of 341 letters Donna had saved in an old trunk; photos and letters relating to her work at the Hollywood USO; an autographed photo she gave to soldier Glenn Peterson of Harlan; a letter to lifelong pen pal, Violet Lindsay, mentioning her desire to support the war effort; excerpts from a letter from her mother referring to Donna’s upcoming visit to promote the sale of war bonds in Denison; and a reference to a Denison appearance of the comedy team of Abbott and Costello.

The exhibit also includes a window display of large format images on loan from the Orpheum Theater Center in Marshalltown, Ia. They were made possible through a partnership established with the Orpheum Theater Center, which has a permanent collection celebrating Iowans of the stage and screen, including Donna Reed.

The exhibit will run through August at the Donna Reed Heritage Museum, 1305 Broadway, Denison, IA. Additional information can by obtained at 712.263.3334 or

Friday, June 8, 2012

Area Seniors Awarded Performance Scholarships

The Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts has awarded three scholarships to graduating seniors who have participated in the performing arts during their high school careers. 

Awarded $1,000 scholarships are:
Dylan Struck of Denison, a graduate of Denison-Schleswig High School, who will be majoring in Music Education at Simpson College starting this fall.

Melissa Ann Moore of Manning, a graduate of IKM-Manning High School, who will be majoring in Theatre at Simpson College this fall.

Awarded a $1,000 scholarship is Hannah Mahnken of Schleswig, a graduate of Denison-Schleswig High School, who will be majoring in History with an emphasis in museum studies at Simpson College beginning this fall.

To qualify for these scholarships, a student must be a graduate of a Crawford County high school and have acted in or have been a part of the tech crew for at least two drama productions during their high school career. Preference is given to students who plan to pursue a degree in the dramatic performing arts, however, this is not required in order to be considered for the scholarships.

The Foundation’s scholarship program is co-sponsored by Bank Iowa, Crawford County Trust and Savings Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Templeton Rye film to highlight annual Wine & Beer Tasting Event, May 11

It’s our annual Wine & Beer Tasting Fundraiser at the Donna Reed Theatre on May 11 starting at 6 p.m.

The Wine & Beer Tasting event begins at 6 p.m. and features tasting opportunities from various wine and beer distributors. Hy-Vee will cater the food and Reiney’s will provide dessert. A live band, “Above the Law,” will play from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Film maker Kristian Day will be on hand for a 7:30 p.m. screening of his film, “Capone’s Wiskey - The Story of Templeton Rye”. This will be the first screening in the Crawford County area. Representatives from the Templeton Rye distillery will also be on hand for a question and answer period following the movie.

Door prizes will be announced at 9 p.m.

Tickets are $20 and may be reserved by calling the Donna Reed Foundation at 712-263-3334.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Donna Reed Foundation Offers Scholarships For Crawford County Students

The Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts, with the generous support of Wells Fargo Bank, Crawford County Bank, Bank Iowa, and a private donor, is again offering three college scholarships of up to $1,000 to high school seniors graduating in 2012 who reside in or attend high school in Crawford County, Iowa.

In order to qualify for these scholarships, a student must have acted in or have been a part of the tech crew for at least two drama productions during their high school career. Preference will be given to a student who plans to pursue a degree in the dramatic performing arts, however, this is not required in order to be considered for the scholarships.

Application forms for the scholarships may be requested via e-mail from Forms are also available through the guidance offices at the Denison, Charter Oak, Ar-We-Va, and IKM-Manning high schools.

Deadline for the applications to be returned for consideration is May 4, 2012.

Monday, February 13, 2012

First Annual Donna Reed Film Festival in Marshalltown, Iowa

Three Days . Five Films . 
Premiere Events

The Orpheum Theater Center in Marshalltown, Iowa announces the First Annual Donna Reed Film Festival, April 27-29. This three-day film festival will celebrate the international impact of Donna Reed in the USO during WWII. The highlight of the festival will be a special performance piece based on letters written by soldiers sent to Donna Reed during the war. Her daughter, Mary Owen, will attend the festival in tribute to the Iowa girl that every serviceman wanted to come home to. Seating is limited, book early. Call 641-844-5919 for info or go to

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Disney’s "Winnie the Pooh, Kids" Is Coming To Denison, IA

A Musical Theatre Workshop for ages 6-13

It’s official. The Children’s Musical Theatre Workshop is back for its sixth Disney production, June18-23, 2012. The week-long workshop is designed to teach the basics of musical theatre to kids ages 6-13 who love singing, dancing and challenges. The workshop culminates with a performance of Disney's Winnie the Pooh, Kids on Saturday, June 23. (Auditions for speaking roles will take place at the first session on Monday, June 18.)

Additional workshop information and tuition rates can be found by downloading our registration form or by calling 712.263.3334 or by stopping at the Donna Reed Foundation office, 1305 Broadway, Denison, IA.