There’s a mini United Nations going on in the head of “The Americans” star Matthew Rhys. He’s a Welshman who is playing a Russian spy that is pretending to be an America. Keeping track of which accent is right to use takes some special preparations by the actor.
“It’s a heady balance of the right amount of alcohol and caffeine that usually gets me there,” Rhys says. “At first, I sort of thought this journey I have to make is sort of a Russian to American, and then I was confusing myself — which is easily done by doing that. I eliminated one element and just reminded myself I am a foreigner trying to deceive people that I’m American, so I sort of simplified it to myself.”
The Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series at Fresno State offers two for one tonight: a double concert by world-class pianists Sergei Babayan and Daniil Trifonov. I recap the concert in Friday’s issue of 7:
To call Trifonov the student of Babayan doesn’t seem like it does the relationship justice, considering that Trifonov is what Keyboard Concerts’ artistic director Andreas Werz calls “the hottest 23-year-old pianist in the world right now.” But it’s accurate: After winning the prestigious 2011 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition for young artists, an event held every four years, and the 2011 Rubinstein International Piano Competition, the Russian-born Trifonov continues to study with Babayan in Cleveland even as he pursues his own concert career.
The duo will play one piece for four hands on one piano and three pieces on two facing pianos. In terms of musical firepower, this is one of the highlights of the Keyboard Concerts season.
1. Le Wolves tour kick-off Le Wolves is a young, hip band that plays dirty, glam-ish garage rock. They’re a shot of adrenaline for the local scene and headed out to Illinois to do a Daytrotter session. So, they’re cool.
“Bromance” is the insider show of the Rogue Festival. If you’ve ever had coffee with Marcel Nunis and know to the penny (including tip) how much a gin and tonic is at Livingstone’s, my bet is you’ll embrace this loosey-goosey production featuring two talented Rogue veterans.
I’m a fan of both performers. Tommy (the Rev. Nuge) Nugent, whose big Rogue hit was “Occupy This!,” has a street-smart, quick delivery that can belie his laid-back drug references. Kurt Fitzpatrick, who last year offered the trippy, stream-of-consciousness “Cathedral City,” comes across as dreamier, with a sweet, rambling timbre to his voice, but he can spit out a pithy punchline.
The two joined up for “Bromance,” which is basically a show about putting on a Rogue show — sort of a low-rent version of “[title of show].” It’s very meta, as you’d expect. Part of it is mechanics: We trace the origins of the show and follow the process of putting it together. (Every act needs a conflict, and they (sort of) find one when it turns out the Rev. wants to date Fitzpatrick’s ex-girlfriend.) Part is getting to know the performers — and their insecurities — better. (Nugent is considering truck-driving-school as a career backup.)
We’re back for Part 3 of “Rogue Confessional,” our series of video interviews with Rogue Festival performers. It’s our Canadian trivia question: If you were in a Rogue show with bad boy Justin Bieber and Toronto crack-smoking-Mayor Rob Ford, what would you call it?
Emily Windler is a Rogue veteran with two solid shows (“Poe and Matthews” and “Gary Has a Date”) under her belt in Fresno, and she returns in “Opera Frantique” to focus her considerable physical comedy skills on a subject ripe for skewering. There’s potential here for a memorable character and a crescendo of laughs, but this aria just keeps getting thinner, finally running out of air.
Windler’s character, Christina Pescalla, is on her farewell concert tour, and she’s here to sing some famous arias and share recollections from her storied career. Dressed in a black strapless evening gown, wide red scarf and white elbow-length gloves, Windler makes the most of her grand entrance when she gets the back of the dress caught on the side of the stage. She excels at small comic moments like these, and as she fumbles up there on stage, periodically yanking up her dress and fumbling with her scarf, the laughs build.
Here’s another great archive photo of downtown Fresno in 1913. You can see street car tracks down the middle of the street, Model T’s on the right and buggies and bikes on the left. What a difference a century makes! The caption says this is the intersection of Fulton and Tulare Streets and is courtesy of the Pop Laval Foundation.
Rogue Festival is in its final week and there are still LOTS of shows you have not seen. Some of them are good, even. If that’s not your thing, it’s cool. There are LOTS of musical happenings this week, too. Here they are in a nice, linear format we call BANDGEEEEEK!
The Rogue Salon is like a morning-after party. Hosted by Rogue godfather Marcel Nunis, the daily event has become a gathering place for Rogue Festival performers (both local and the travelers); a place they come to hang out, chat about (and promote) their shows and drink some free coffee (and sometimes mimosas). I went out to the Salon last week and put together this quick video as part of our Rogue coverage.
The obvious conclusion to be drawn from the new NBC comedy, “Growing Up Fisher,” is that it’s about a boy (Eli Baker) who learns a ton of life lessons from his blind father (J.K. Simmons). That’s part of the story. What you might be overlooking is the growing up being done by Joyce Fisher, the character played by Jenna Elfman.
The story starts with the couple getting a divorce. Her reasons for the mutual separation has to do with the need by Joyce to find her own way in life.
In Thursday’s Life section I offer an ArtHop roundup, starting off with a new show at Gallery 25:
Artists Joan Sharma and Carol Tikijian are concerned about climate change. In a new show at Gallery 25 titled “Draw the Line,” they collaborate on an exhibition that employs light, sound and text to offer viewers “an opportunity to reflect upon global issues around climate change that threatens the health of our planet.”
Sharma tells me that the one concept-driven installation – incorporating sound, light, color and text — “activates the entire gallery space.”
Fresno has seen a good run of comedians coming through lately, though the shows don’t always get the press they should (I’m working on it, people). For instance, Knoxville, Tenn. comic Jasper Redd, who plays 8 p.m. tonight at Henry’s Cantina in Clovis. Redd is a touring comic who’s been all over TV (“Last Call” with Carson Daly, “Lopez Tonight,” Def Comedy Jam, Tosh.0). His comedy special “Jazz Talk” will be released on Netflix March 15. So see him now! Tickets for the show are $10, or $20 at the door.
The is the first official show from Fresno Comedy Scene.
Strange Vine has a habit of setting up awesome local shows. When they play, you know you’ll be getting your money’s worth. So tonight’s show at Fulton 55 with San Francisco’s Soft White Sixties (plus Light Thieves and Planet Live in Houses) could be the music pick of the weekend.
You just have to start your weekend on a Thursday, is all.
The band has hooked us up with a couple tickets to pass along y’all Beehivers. To enter to win, just leave a comment on the post. Tell us who is your favorite rock-n-roll duo. This is a super-last minute, super-quick one. Deadline for entry is 3 p.m., today. Winners will be chosen by random and notified via email within the hour. So, check your email if you entered.
Check out the full rules and an awesome video from Kevin Figueroa on the jump.
There’s some cool new places in Fresno gearing up to open that I’m dying to tell you about. It’s a little too early to do a full newspaper column on some of them, but Beehive readers like to be in the know, so here’s a preview.
Richie’s Pizza & Hot Dogs. This Tower District restaurant should be opening any day now. It will sell pizza by the slice and whole pies, along with gourmet hot dogs. It’s in the space that used to be Scoop’s ice cream.
Chili’s is building a new restaurant in the former Baker’s Square spot at 3585 W. Shaw Ave. near Marty Avenue. Chili’s isn’t talking, so don’t we don’t when the restaurant will be up and running, but the building permit confirms that it is a Chili’s being built.
If you are tired of being ‘gleed’, “head-banged’, ‘hip-hopped’ or ‘country-rockified’ then you need this. The ‘Sweet Classic, Folk & Country Melodies’ of the Highway 41 trio is a pleasant break from all that ‘clear channel’ and ‘I heart radio’ auditory assault you might encounter daily.
Highway 41 consists of Bill Jirsa (lead guitar, vocals), Sari Miller (guitar, vocals) and Elaine Fetterman (fiddle). The trio of local musicians have been playing together since Spring 2013 but individually they each developed their pickin’ and song skills during the folk era of the 60s. Their continuity is clearly evident as they begin their set with ’Voice On The Wind’ and a rendition of Kate Wolf’s ‘Across the Great Divide’ – the gentleness of Jirsa and Miller’s vocals are soothing and help you form a mental picture of the lyrics. The acoustics of the Spectrum Gallery are fitting.
Their selection of songs are derived from the inspiration of the beauty that exists in The Valley from the foothills to the ranges and the coast. Indeed. One song written and sung by Miller titled ‘Coal’ is the affectionate story of her dog and the family farm east of Clovis. Their repertoire is a blended mix of Americana and all songs are faithfully rendered.
There are some standout moments for each performer, Fetterman’s fiddle on ‘Maidens Prayer’ and Jirsa’s own ‘Gray Foggy Day’ solo are treats.
My favorite song of their set is the Everly Brothers’ ‘Let it Be Me’ which is beautifully handled and the trio delivers a heartwarming performance. It’s too bad the song is barely over two-minutes long and the entire show is only 45 minutes. If you truly enjoy Highway 41 they have a self-produced CD available for $10.
Details: 9 p.m. March 7 and 1:30 p.m., March 8 at Spectrum Gallery. $5 in Rogue Bucks
I became a big fan of Caroline Dhavernas when she starred on the short-lived FOX 2004 series “Wonderfalls.” It was a quirky show about a young woman — played by Dhavernas — who worked at a gift shop near Niagara Falls. Animal figurines in the shop would send her on missions to help others. If you haven’t seen it, all 13 episodes are available on DVD.
Normally, when I talk with Dhavernas it’s a little embarrassing to keep bringing up a show that went off the air 10 years ago. But, she always indulges my interest in the defunct program. During an interview for her current role in NBC’s “Hannibal”, I ask the Canadian actress if she knew the secret of why the character could talk to inanimate objects.
“We never really pierced that mystery,” Dhavernas tells me. “I, frankly, didn’t want to know where the power came from. She was just having these hallucinations. Maybe they were real. Maybe they weren’t.”
I don’t know about average foxes living in average woods, but I can tell you the title character in Fresno City College’s perky new production of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” occupies some pretty swell underground digs.
And that’s no surprise, considering the college’s reputation for innovative design. With veteran costume designer Debra Erven directing the show and Christopher R. Boltz excelling with his scenic and lighting design, this charming stage adaptation of the Roald Dahl’s children’s book about a feisty fox is filled with visual wonders. The bright and gregarious show is perfect for smaller children, with lots of cute costumed animals and a sweet message of sharing. (Well, that, and also a message about absconding with resources hoarded by an oppressive oligarchy, all in the name of the collective, but those are political questions to be raised once your child gets a little older.)
The show continues through Saturday at the Fresno City College Theatre.
The Fresno Philharmonic is going all-Wagner on Sunday, and I have four pairs of tickets to give away to Beehive readers. “Ride of the Valkyries: Wagner’s Greatest Hits” will feature selections from some of Wagner’s most beloved operas, including “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg,” “Rienzi,” “Gotterdammerung,” “Tannhauser,” “Lohengrin” and “Die Walkure.” The orchestra, under the baton of music director Theodore Kuchar, will be joined by the Fresno Community Chorus Master Chorale and Fresno State Concert Choir, directed by Anna Hamre.
I have four pairs of tickets for the 2:30 p.m. Sunday performance to give away to Beehive readers.
To enter the contest, leave a comment on this post telling us if you’ve ever seen “Apocalypse Now” — and if you think the famous helicopter scene would have worked without Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.”I’ll pick four winners, each of whom will win two tickets.
Deadline is 6 p.m. Wednesday. Please don’t enter more than once. I’ll be informing our winner by email on Wednesday evening, so keep a watch on your inbox. If I haven’t heard from a winner by Thursday morning, I reserve the right to pick another. These are paper tickets, so you’ll need to be able to come down to The Bee’s front counter by 5 p.m. Friday to pick them up. Rules are on the jump.
“The Road to High Street“ is a one-man show detailing the career of street performer, juggler, comedian and musician Andrew Potter.
The son of a decorated WW II Naval Officer and successful businessman, young Andrew Potter has just graduated from college in Rhode Island and has shared with his father the dream of becoming a street performer. You can almost guess how his father might have responded. For the moment we are left wondering as Potter and his college buddy, Wheeler Cole hit the road for the mecca of street performance art: San Francisco.
Potter is indeed an accomplished juggler, narrating and strumming a few rifts on his guitar while also operating his laptop’s projected animations, layered images and video clips. He is the ultimate multi-tasker.
It would be easy to come up with 39 reasons why the new Good Company Players production of “The 39 Steps” is such a successful show. Six of them would be the cast members.
As an ensemble, James Sherrill, Emily Pessano, Tyler Branco, Billy Anderson, Kaichen McRae and Teddy Maldonado are a well-honed comedy machine, sprinting through this clever show’s gags with finesse. Director Denise Graziani whips them through a torrent of locations at race-car speed, and on opening night I always got the sense that each cast member knew exactly how much to floor the accelerator. (The show continues at the 2nd Space Theatre through April 19.)
It never ceases to amaze me how Kids Day touches people — even those who have no connection to the central San Joaquin Valley.
When representatives of Warner Bros. Pictures — makers of “The Lego Movie” — heard about the special section that raises money for Children’s Hospital Central California, they wanted to do something to help mark the day. That something was a massive box of toys, books, posters and bags tied to the new movie the studio wanted distributed to the young patients.
The big-band musical “In the Mood,” celebrating its 20th anniversary on tour, is returning to Fresno one year after its last visit here. The show, which features the 13-piece String of Pearls Big Band Orchestra and six singers and dancers, includes such favorites as “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B),” “In The Mood,” “Tuxedo Junction” and “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
The show will be performed at the Tower Theatre 2 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. I have four tickets to give away to the Friday matinee. (Weekday matinees are uncommon in Fresno, so note the time.)
To enter the contest, leave a comment on this post answering this question: What is your favorite big-band song? I’ll pick two winners, each of whom will win two tickets.
Deadline is 6 p.m. Wednesday. Please don’t enter more than once. I’ll be informing our winner by email on Wednesday evening, so keep a watch on your inbox. These are paper tickets, so you’ll need to come down to The Bee’s front counter to pick them up. You can watch a promotional video for the show and read the complete rules after the jump.