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PHOTOS: Open Window Theatre’s Leaving Iowa

The cast of Open Window Theatre’s production of Leaving Iowa, which opened April 29 in Inver Grove Heights, MN. Photo by Kayla Ninnemann.

There is a great population reshuffling going on in the United States. In 2020 and 2021, numerous households fled the big cities for larger in-door spaces and outdoor access. This month, with the Memorial Day holiday weekend looming, many others are planning on taking to the nation’s highways on that great American pastime: the road trip.

It’s more than a little fitting, then, that Open Window Theatre’s current show, Leaving Iowa, is about just that: an American family on a road trip. Even better, it’s a comedy – and a hilarious one at that, with the sharp script by Tim Clue and Spike Manton skewering (among other things) father-son dynamics, family car vacations, “fringe” Midwest attractions, and more.

Here’s a look at the show, featuring actors Greg Bunce, Kari Steinbach, Jeremy Stanbary, Sarah Stanbary, Nate Farley, and Kathryn Humnick:

A large highway map dominates the floor of the set designed by Nate Farley. Photo by Kayla Ninnemann.
Naturally, shopping for supplies is an important road trip element. Photo by Kayla Ninnemann.
Of course, siblings always, always get along perfectly. Pictured: Greg Bunce as Dad, Jeremy Stanbary as Don Browning, Sarah Stanbary as Sis, and Kari Steinbach as Mom. Photo by Kayla Ninnemann.
Behemoth-sized candy treats and a road trip: what could go wrong? Pictured: Sarah Stanbary as Sis. Photo by Kayla Ninnemann.
The script by Tim Clue & Spike Manton is jam-packed with more comedy than the recent Ghostbusters film. Photo by Kayla Ninnemann.
Travel motel stops are not normally known for the right type of excitement. Photo by Kayla Ninnemann.

Official Synopsis

The spark behind Leaving Iowa comes from being children of parents from the now dubbed “greatest generation.” The story is a toast to their idealism and character and a little roast of their undying dedication to the classic family road trip. More specifically, it is the story of Don Browning, a middle-aged writer, who returns home and decides to finally take his father’s ashes to his childhood home, as requested. But when Don discovers Grandma’s house is now a grocery store, he begins traveling across Iowa searching for a proper resting place for his father.

This father-and-son road trip shifts smoothly from the present to Don’s memories of the annual, torturous vacations of his childhood. Don’s existential journey leads him to reconcile his past and present at the center of the United States. Leaving Iowa is a postcard to anyone who has ever found himself or herself driving alone on a road, revisiting fond memories of his or her youth.

Leaving Iowa plays through May 29 at Open Window Theatre in Inver Grove Heights, MN.

Amy Donahue