‘Show Boat’ opens tonight



There are just hours to go before Fresno Grand Opera’s last production of the 2011-12 season, “Show Boat,” opens. Because of the strike against the opera company by the local musicians union, which I’ve covered in great detail, I think it’s safe to say that no production in local history has divided the community so sharply even before the downbeat.

Within minutes of posting my regular Weekend Picks Beehive compilation feature on Facebook — which did not include “Show Boat” because I knew I’d need to devote an entire post to the complexities of the issue — a reader asked: “and what about SHOWBOAT?”

I’m seeing the show tonight and plan to post a review and recap of the evening, probably in the wee hours. I think the whole experience will be fascinating. It’s only human nature to view any kind of art through one’s own subjective filters, and how an audience member feels about the strike will likely color perceptions. (On Facebook, some people have already talked about how great the show will be, while others say it will be substandard.) As a critic, I have to try to leave all the baggage of the show at the door and approach it purely as an artistic experience.

Before I get into a recap of strike-related stuff, I’ll point you to my traditional-style preview piece in Friday’s 7 section. In an interview with stage director Valerie Rachelle, I trace the importance of “Show Boat” in the musical theater canon and talk about specifics of the Fresno production. Jessica Medoff, pictured, who plays the leading role of Magnolia in the historic musical, comes to Fresno Grand Opera production after experience in both operatic and musical theater roles with such companies as Opera New Jersey and Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theater.

Donald’s weekend picks

Sharon Rogers.JPG

The Orpheus chamber ensemble had originally planned a Mother’s Day finale to its season, but members decided to turn the slot on the schedule over to Sharon Rogers, a junior Fresno State vocal major, in a program titled “Presenting Sharon Rogers: An Afternoon of Arias and Songs.” The performance is a benefit for the singer, who is raising money to attend a special summer program at the California Opera Academy in San Francisco. She performs 5 p.m. Sunday. [Details]

Sharon Rogers.JPG

Concert News: Van Halen returns

Show poster on display.  on Twitpic

That major announcement from the Save Mart Center? It’s Van Halen, as announced this morning at a press conference outside the arena.

Because you’re wondering: Van Halen (with Roth singing) was last in Fresno in November 2007, playing to a crowd of 8,035. Before that, Van Halen (or Van Hagar) played Save Mart Center in August 2004. It also played Selland Arena in 1982, back-to-back days in 1992 and 1995.

If you missed it: The first concert announcement of the day was The Black Keys, who will play Save Mart Center on Oct. 1.

Check out the Van Halen show poster on jump.

Concert News: Black Keys at Save Mart Center



Rock duo The Black Keys will paint “Gold on the Ceiling” of Save Mart Center, it was announced this morning. The rising classic rock-inspired band will visit Fresno on Oct. 1.

Tickets cost $49.50. Floor seats are general admission. The rest of the seating is reserved. Ticket sales start for the general public at noon on May 18. But, like the Drake concert, there will be a pre-sale exclusive to Fresno State students.

Students with a valid I.D. can buy tickets 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday (May 15) and Wednesday (May 16). These pre-sale tickets are available only at the Save Mart Center box office.

The Black Keys have risen from longtime indie-rock faves to arena-level rock stars in recent years, behind their successful albums “Brothers” and “El Camino,” which include songs such as “Tighten Up” and “Lonely Boy.” This will be the band’s first time in Fresno. But it did play in Sacramento last weekend.

This is the first of two promised concert announcements today from Save Mart Center. The second announcement — the “major” one teased since Tuesday — will be announced at a 10 a.m. press conference. We’ll have an update posted soon.

UPDATE: You can win ‘Avengers’ items


MRK0225_mp_C237Atk2A_EFILM_v001_1036_R.JPGThe three winners of the “Avengers” prize packages have been randomly selected. They are David, Danielle and Sergio. Sorry if you didn’t win.

Keep an eye on the Web site or future ticket giveaways.

ORIGINAL POST: Many of you who went to a midnight screening of “The Avengers” are probably reading this through sleepy eyes. Well, wake up! I’m giving you — and those who see the movie over the next few days — an opportunity to win some “Avengers” loot.

All you have to do is send me a comment that’s your review of the movie. Don’t write forever and don’t give away any major plot points. No one needs to know Captain America quits the Avengers to work at a Starbucks. Just kidding. All you have to do is tell me if you liked the movie as much as I did or found it as flawed as a Marvel Comics character.

A random drawing will be held of all the comments to select three winners of an “Avengers” cap and T-shirt plus other goodies. You have until noon May 10. Winners will be notified by email. The prize packages must be picked up at the Fresno Bee during normal business hours. They can’t be mailed.

Good luck.

The rules and regulations are below.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


Besides telling your mom you love her.

Experience the forbidden at tonight’s performance from the Valley Burlesque Society. Not only is the show a bit of naughty fun, but its location adds to the voyeurism. It’s in the vault of the old Security Bank Building aka the current Pacific Southwest building. So you’re basically seeing things you shouldn’t in a place you normally shouldn’t be. How wickedly fun. [More]


Entertainment this weekend

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Dark Shadows.JPG Should it get too warm outside this weekend, here are a few entertainment suggestions to enjoy indoors.

“Desperate Housewives” 9 p.m. Sunday, KFSN (Channel 30.1): The eight-year run of the nighttime soap opera comes to an end with the two-hour finale. The last two hours will be filled with a lot of “desperate” moments including Bree’s (Marcia Cross) lawyer trying to convince her to tell him what really happened the night of Alejandro’s murder as it looks like she’s about to be convicted.

“Dark Shadows”: The film can’t decide if it wants to be a serious horror movie or a comedy. Either way, Johnny Depp is having fun playing the vampire Barnabas Collins. This is definitely a film for fans of the actor more than fans of the daytime soap opera that inspired the latest offering from Tim Burton.

“The Vow”: A woman (Rachel McAdams) wakes up from a coma with no memory of her marriage. The romance film is loosely based on a true story. McAdams and Channing Tatum are the film’s biggest assets. She has the kind of angelic face and sweet personality that make it easy to fall in love with her. Tatum brings both a rough physicality and surprising vulnerability to the role. They make it easy to root for this couple to stay together. “The Vow” has three things going for it: likable starring actors, a director who knows how to stay away from saccharine-sweet sentimentality and a compelling story.

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