5 Unexpected Ways to Experience Hancher this Spring (Sponsored)

As a first year UI student, I worked in the (old) Hancher café. The part-time job taught me simple yet handy skills, like how to tie a tie, quietly pop a champagne cork, and appreciate the gentle complexity of a monster cookie.

Working at Hancher also came with a secret benefit. At the back of the orchestra-level, there was an observation room occasionally used to seat latecomers. After we cleaned up food service, café employees slipped into the room for snippets of the performance, keeping a close eye on the time until we set up intermission or post-show service. That spring, I saw the musical “Rent” five times.

Eleven years passed between the time I was a UI student and when I moved back to Iowa City. During our decade away, Hancher was the standard by which my husband and I compared other performing arts venues. When we lived in smaller communities, we missed the easy access to world-class performances. When we lived in the Chicago area, we missed the free parking (am I right?!).

Returning to Iowa City as a mom, our community felt familiar and different at the same time. Nothing better illustrated this than Hancher. I was in a new stage in my life, and Hancher – quite literally – had a new stage all together. Its gorgeous new building opened in 2016, and I was thrilled to be back to fully appreciate it.


I still love the big shows, but there are so many other ways to take advantage of this incredible resource in our backyard. In this phase of my life, I particularly appreciate options that are less expensive, family-friendly, or just a way to mix up date night or Girls’ Night Out. Here are 5 unexpected ways to experience Hancher this spring.

Happy Hour

Thursday nights at Hancher
Cost: Whatever you order from the menu. Beer starts at $6, wine starts at $8, and snacks/small plates range from $1.50-$17
When: Thursday, March 8, 2018, 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 22, 2018, 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 29, 2018, 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Why: Savor the beautiful view while servers bring your order to your table, shop at the Hancher Showcase. On the above dates, free one-hour public tours are also available starting at 5:15pm and 6:15pm.

Date with your little

Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic
Cost: Adult tickets start at $20 and youth tickets (17 and under) start at $10
When: Wednesday, April 4, 7:30 p.m.
Why: Family-friendly, shadow play featuring puppets, masks and animation

Circa – Carnival of Animals

Family day

Circa – Carnival of the Animals
Cost: Adult tickets start at $20 and youth tickets (17 and under) start at $10
When: Saturday, April 21, 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Why: Family-friendly, features acrobats portraying creatures of the animal kingdom

Foodie night

Hancher Culinary Arts Experience: Trumpet Blossom Cafe
Cost: $40 per person, includes dinner, non-alcoholic beverages, tax, and gratuity
When: Wednesday, May 2, 2018, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Why: Local restaurants offer a delicious and memorable meal.

Picnic on the lawn

Zeshan Bagewadi and the Transistors
Cost: Free!
When: Saturday, May 26, 2 p.m.
Why: Take a break with a free concert on the Hancher Green

Of course, if you love the big musicals like I do, I also recommend Kinky Boots, the 2013 Tony Award winner for Best Musical. You can’t go wrong with songs by Cyndi Lauper.

Motown the Musical

Last night, my husband and I attended “Motown the Musical,” which, by the way, is AMAZING and you can still snag tickets to see it this weekend! In the past, we’ve had dinner in downtown Iowa City before heading to the show, but I often get nervous about time. Last night we tried a new approach. Hancher’s Stanley Café opens two hours before the performance. We arrived early to enjoy a nice view, wine, and small plates. We will absolutely do it again–it was relaxing and delicious. (I highly recommend the charcuterie platter!)

Our plan came with a not-so-secret benefit. By arriving early, we secured a sweet parking spot in their huge (and did I mention free?) parking lot. It may not be quite the same as sneaking glimpses of the best musical of the 90s, but I will take it. As the saying goes, “All the world’s a stage.” Now I just have better seats.

This is a sponsored post. ICMB was compensated for sharing this piece.  However, we love connecting our readers with people and organizations that are doing good in our community, and we think you will find this information helpful and informative!



Susie is a mom of two, book-lover and frequent challah baker. In addition to working at The University of Iowa, Susie is a PTA volunteer and sorority advisor. She loves date nights in the Ped Mall, catching a show at the Englert, and most of all, cuddling her family on the couch.


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