John Busbee

Welcome to the John Busbee site, featuring the independent voice for Iowa's arts, culture, history, entertainment, literature and more, The Culture Buzz. Whether you are visiting to learn more about how John Busbee can help you achieve your project or business goals and visions, or to learn more about the deep and diverse cultural offerings waiting to be discovered, I trust you will find this site informative, engaging, inspirational, and, most important, something that leaves you feeling just a little bit better than when you first arrived. Please consider this the beginning of our dialogue, and always feel comfortable in contacting me about anything contained within.

Avenue Q may be right up your alley

Theatre review by John Busbee
Ames, Iowa
March 23, 2010
"Avenue Q" is currently touring the upper Midwest, and Tuesday exploded on the CY Stephens stage in a rip-roaring romp of stellar talent, before wending its irreverent way for a three-day stop in Cedar Rapids. This production gets an "A" for exceptional showmanship, brilliant ensemble work and an uninhibited exploration of urban life's underbelly. "Avenue Q" is not for the faint of heart, as it is often explicit in its content and actions - where it earns an "R." It rips the cute fur right off of any cuddly Sesame Street memories, and exposes the world through unfiltered lenses - which gives it a "T" for tempestuous. And, that spells "A-R-T," of which this production achieves a rare form. It's Pollyanna drinking and cursing her way through Aunt Polly's house of ill repute. On the other hand, I've never had more sheer fun and admiration for performers at work than with this show.

This brilliant and unique musical is based on an original concept by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, who created the music and lyrics. Jeff Witty wrote the book. After a highly praised, multiply extended run Off-Broadway, "Avenue Q" opened on Broadway in 2003, and hit the 2004 Emmy Awards trifecta: Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical. After a 2534 performance run on Broadway, this show began touring, carrying its infectious, quirky humor to the world.

Read more: Avenue Q may be right up your alley


Gritty Irish tale is irresistible stage work

Theatrical review by John Busbee for The Culture Buzz

Des Moines, Iowa
March 23, 2010      Executive producer Brendan Dunphy, who also plays one of the roles, successfully continues his obsessive Martin McDonagh Project with his second production, "The Lonesome West." Staged in the Des Moines Social Club's black box theatre, this production captures the essence of McDonagh's work through dynamic performance and direction. This continuation of the Connemara Trilogy is the next piece of Moon Coin Production's master plan to present "the first ever kind-of-complete showcase of this brilliant man's works." The mild disclaimer is because McDonagh continues to write, and has a critically acclaimed new Broadway show, "A Behanding in Spokane."

Des Moines audiences willing to take this adventurous ride will be rewarded with a theatrical treat. Make no mistake - McDonagh's script is filled with a savage humor. It is inherently contradictory, dealing with the gritty side of humanity while delivering gales of laughter like waves beating on the bleak shores of the sea that is such an integral part of his plays. This is part of his genius. Two key ingredients rise to the occasion for this show's success: a strong, talented cast and a director who understands how to deliver such material.

Read more: Gritty Irish tale is irresistible stage work


Nostalgic comedy the best thing since sliced (Wonder) bread

Theatrical review by John Busbee for The Culture Buzz

Des Moines, Iowa
March 12, 2010  
           There's a new bread, er, um, breed of performing arts that's attracting first-time audiences while giving regular performing arts patrons an exceptional new experience. The Fourth Wall is now broken, and interaction between audience and performer has created a new relationship. And, from the very enthusiastic and very positive responses to "The Wonder Bread Years," Pat Hazell is a master of this art form. Everyone gets a most healthy and hearty workout of the laugh muscles as Hazell quickly engages his new friends into a two-act stroll through shared memories. For the woes and cynicism of modern times, this is the perfect panacea that leaves patrons giddy from the remedy.

"The Wonder Bread Years" begins with a visual stimulation of nostalgic icons on the front stoop of Hazell's stage-home. His pre-show is a priceless video montage of vintage commercials. It's amazing after so many decades that these images instantly produce reactions; the little Life cereal kid immediately produces more than just of smattering of "Mikey" shouts. Like a seasoned pre-camera warm-up performer, this video sequence had Hazell's audience primed for pending tribute to Americana in a simpler time.

Read more: Nostalgic comedy the best thing since sliced (Wonder) bread


‘Boxcar Children’ on the right track

 Theatrical review by John Busbee for The Culture Buzz

Des Moines, Iowa
February 27, 2010          The Des Moines Playhouse’s Kate Goldman Children’s Theatre brings another children’s literary classic to vibrant life. “The Boxcar Children” is a delightfully appealing theatrical adaptation by Barbara Field of Gertrude Chandler Warner’s popular children’s mysteries (18; in addition to the original published in 1942), which, following Warner’s death in 1979, with the series subsequently continued with reverential care by Albert Whitman & Co. In the irresistible vein of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, Warner’s four young protagonists - Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny Alden – continue to stimulate the imaginations of new generations with her timeless stories.

This inaugural escapade of the Alden children brings adventurous, independent flashes of the aforementioned serial books’ main characters, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, with an “Annie”-like storyline of orphans and a seemingly inscrutable wealthy patriarch. The fact that the story is set generations ago doesn’t matter. Warner taps into universal themes which stand the test of time, and are as appealing today as they were when the story was first published. Bringing such a work to life on stage becomes a magical transformation for its primary audience, children.

Read more: ‘Boxcar Children’ on the right track


'Almost, Maine' satisfies with 'almost, perfect' performances

Theatrical review by John Busbee for The Culture Buzz

Des Moines, Iowa
February 21, 2010
  StageWest Theatre Company continues to produce rich scripts into marvelous stage work, with a real gem in their current show, "Almost, Maine." This production satisfies on many levels, and leaves the audience with a warm, theatrical afterglow.

John Cariani's "Almost, Maine" plays like a 10-part sit com compressed into a single banquet upon which the audience feasts. The beauty of Cariani's script is that not only was it written by an actor turned playwright, but an artist who understands how to build a mutually rewarding theatrical experience for his audiences. "Almost Maine" dances through a myriad of relationship complexities with a master's grace, sharing a delicious range of situations, emotions and reactions. Human nature is lampooned, caressed and honored throughout this show.

StageWest gives bonus entertainment for all who attend their performances. No one serves as a pre-show impresario better than the company's artistic director, Ron Lambert. With an infectious mix of promotional savvy and unabashed enthusiasm and gratitude for StageWest's role in the community, Lambert is as successful as the person who warms up a studio audience before a show goes on-air. Everyone loves it. Lambert is the perfect sorbet for the "StageWest Theatrical Experience."

Read more: 'Almost, Maine' satisfies with 'almost, perfect' performances


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Freelance Writing

John Busbee has worked as a freelance writer for more than 15 years, having contributed to the successful missions and goals of private, public and non-profit clients. With a broad base of experience, and the discipline of a project manager, John is able to work with his clients to produce the story, content or descriptives they want.


Project Management

With several years of development experience in freelance, non-profit, special events, and filmmaking projects, John excels when the fit for your project is right. Non-proift work includes working as development director for Easter Seals of Iowa and the American Cancer Society, on multiple special events and fundraising projects/campaigns.


Locations / Production Coordination

John has worked on a wide range of film, video, television and multi-media productions, locally, regionally and studio. He has worked production supervisor, production coordinator, production office coordinator, locations manager, locations scout, and other roles aiding in efficient achievement of any given production's goals.