The Englert’s Best Show Ever finds connection in the arts community in third month of production

In an attempt to reconnect with the local arts world, The Englert started The Best Show Ever podcast. Host and musician Elly Hofmaier uses the podcast to discuss and amplify the voices of the art community in Iowa City.



Megan Conroy, Arts Reporter

The Englert’s stage remains quiet amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but still produces entertainment over Spotify and other podcast platforms, as loudly and proudly as ever.

The theater’s staff launched the The Best Show Ever over the summer, a podcast hosted by local musician Elly Hofmaier. The staff produced its first episode on June 18.

Recording from within her home on her partner’s Blue Yeti microphone, Hofmaier discusses matters present in the Iowa City arts community, interviews artists over Zoom, and speaks with community members about their favorite live-show experiences. The Best Show Ever also features music from local artists and a song of the week.

The Englert Executive Director Andre Perry said he first thought of having a podcast earlier in the summer. Perry and The Englert’s staff knew that they wanted to talk about the arts scene overall, but with an added local flair to it as well.

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The podcast’s title inspiration, he said, came from a catchy common phrase used by show attendees leaving show venues.

Perry said The Englert staff wanted to give people of varying backgrounds the opportunity to talk about unique experiences they’ve had in the local art scene, but also dive into different perspectives of what Iowa City looked like in years past.

“We try to focus on one artist a week [in order to] learn more about the cool people who are musicians, writers, painters, and filmmakers in our town; whether they’ve spent a little bit of time here or they’ve lived their whole lives here,” Perry said.

The Best Show Ever interviewees come from a running list of people who live in the area who don’t necessarily have to be artists, Perry said, but do something interesting in the community.

As a singer and musician who helps out with the theater’s marketing, Hofmaier said she has never been a podcast producer before this summer. When Perry and Marketing Director John Schickedanz asked her to host the podcast, Hofmaier said she was happy to have the opportunity to amplify people within the community.

All of the interviews occur over Zoom in order to maintain social distancing precautions. The August 10 derecho halted some of the interviews, however, and Hofmaier described it as one of many unpredictable challenges the year 2020 has presented.

“[Hosting the podcast] is keeping me inspired and in touch with the community and the diversity of it as a whole,” she said. “The No. 1 thing I’ve learned is that the people around here are amazing. Every time I’m learning about someone, I can’t believe [they live] in Iowa City. You never know who you’re walking past on the street.”

The host said she hopes people who listen to the podcast can also be inspired by the people who live in their area, even during a time where they aren’t making in-person connections at concerts or movie theaters.

Hofmaier added that she knows some people aren’t “podcast people,” but they should still research the podcast’s guests.

“If they’re on the podcast, they’re doing something cool,” she said.

As part of the podcast team, Schickedanz finalizes the guests who are appear on the show. As the Englert plans for its future in-person shows, the future of the podcast is factored in along with it.

The theater staff wouldn’t have time to produce a podcast pre-pandemic, so the concept of having both a theater season and a podcast at the same time are currently in discussion, Schickedanz said.

“It’s been our saving grace in the chaotic world of the pandemic,” he said. “We’re expanding into more virtual opportunities and the podcast is definitely something that will remain in the slate for next year.”