Meet Robert. At first glance he seems to be someone for whom the term “quivering jelly of a man” was invented: He fidgets, stammers, stumbles, says the wrong thing and practically self-immolates when he’s talking to women. At a party, he’s the one who will trip on an end table and go head over heels off the back of the couch.
In Fresno City College’s well crafted and very silly “Boeing-Boeing,” the hapless Robert — played by an amusing Kai DiMono — pops up on an old friend’s doorstep in Paris. There, to his shock (and delight), he discovers that his friend is trying to run one of the oldest scams in the book: being engaged to three women at once.
Set in 1965, this translated French farce by Marc Camoletti straddles two decades: An old-fashioned sensibility bumps up against the more free-wheeling mores of a new generation. Bernard (an energetic Steven Weatherbee), a wealthy transplanted American, is able to pull off sleeping with three women because they’re air hostesses for different airlines.
When you’re lucky, you get a moment in a musical that soars into the stratosphere. The Good Company Players production of the musical revue “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” boasts two.
When Janet Glaudé, a veteran of more than 40 GCP shows, takes the stage to sing the reprise of the song “Fools Fall in Love,” her voice swells with such emotion and virtuosity that it’s like a comet streaking to a fiery climax. I sat riveted on opening night, so caught up in the interlude that I forgot to breathe.
Spine, meet chills.
But the surprise of the evening could be summarized in the song that comes before Glaudé’s. Isaac Brown, just 13 years old, a member of the Junior Company making his GCP mainstage debut, leads the ensemble in an exhilarating rendition of “Jailhouse Rock.”
UPDATE 1/18: Here’s a combination story from Modesto Bee reporter Marijke Rowland and me that goes into greater detail on the departure of Ronald D. Eichman from Fresno Grand Opera and a new arrangement with Modesto’s Townsend Opera. The companies will share a new general director, Matthew Buckman, and present the same productions (same cast, sets, costumes but different choruses and orchestras), but budgets will remain separate.
ORIGINAL POST: For the second time in less than two weeks, one of Fresno’s major cultural institutions will be undergoing a major leadership change.
Ronald D. Eichman, who has led Fresno Grand Opera for 16 years as general director, is resigning at the end of the year, opera officials announced today. Also departing is Thi Nguyen, the company’s associate director, who joined the company in 2008. Nguyen is departing to join Eichman in expanding an entertainment business venture the pair started three years ago.
Matthew Buckman, the general and artistic director at Townsend Opera in Modesto, will assume the general director’s position on Dec. 1, the Modesto Bee reports.
The winners randomly have been selected for the tickets to see the early screening of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.” Those winners include: Mark, Kathy, Dora, Ernie, Wes, DubTee, Mitch y, Dan, D. Bray, Julita, Sarah, Donna and Lisa.
Thank you to everyone who participated. Keep checking out the Beehive for future giveaways.
ORIGINAL POST: One of the biggest films of the holiday season is going to be “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.” The film officially opens late Nov. 20 but true fans want to see the movie before the general public.
The Beehive, in connection with Lionsgate, wants to make that happen.
There have been 26 seats secured for a special advance screening in Fresno to be held at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 – two days before anyone else will get to see it. The Beehive will be giving away 13 pairs (one pair for each District) through a random drawing of those who leave a comment below.
That means each winner and a friend will get to go to the head of the line at the advance screening. And, there’s a good chance of a special additional prize.
All you have to do is leave a comment stating which District for which you would be best suited. All comments must be made by 8 a.m. Nov. 17. The 13 winners will be notified by noon on Nov. 17.
If you can not use the tickets, they can not be transferred.
The arrival of November caught me by surprise. I’m not certain how an entire month, which arrives promptly every year at exactly the same time, was able to sneak up on me with the stealth of a ninja – but it happened, nonetheless.
I’d been perusing Pinterest for fall decor ideas, and found a few I wanted to try that involved miniature white pumpkins. I’d seen them at several grocery stores this season and thought they were pretty and elegant and appeared fairly inexpensive and nevermind any of that because foolish me! It was already Nov. 2. Grocery stores were well aware of the month’s arrival and in preparation of that other holiday, all the pumpkin displays I’d admired the previous month had disappeared. And while vigorous searching these last 2 weeks has not revealed a single white, miniature pumpkin, my sleuthing did uncover plenty of red and green decor items: cinnamon-scented pine cones; stuffed, fat Santas; leaping paper mache reindeer; and any number of items with poinsettias and holly emblazoned on them. Nary a gourd in sight. In fact, not a single item relating to Thanksgiving remained anywhere.
Wait —that’s not exactly true. Each grocery store had erected a fairly robust display of boxed stuffing, canned pumpkin pack, marshmallows, foil roasting pans, fried onions and canned yams (preserved in syrup) available for use.
I began to chastise myself. Honestly, how silly of me to want to celebrate in a timely and expected fashion, Thanksgiving, the holiday that —and I checked on this— comes BEFORE Christmas. As we’re hosting the feast at our home this year, I’d wanted to have a few autumnal items about. I’m sure I could have made a nice display above my hearth with the boxed stuffing and the canned yams, but that really wasn’t the look I was hoping for.
Ladies Night Out Vol. 2 came to the arena in 2011 and featured ’90s throw-back groups like Bell Biv DeVoe, Color Me Badd, Jagged Edge and H-Town.
This time around the concert features Mexican singer Frankie J (of the Kumbia Kings); R&B icon Ginuwine; “Baby Got Back” rapper Sir-Mix-A-Lot; the R& B duo Next; Silk, the ’90s group discovered by Keith Sweat and local rapper Zee Will.
To enter to win, just leave a comment on this post. Tell us what makes for the perfect “ladies night out.” You gents out there may have to use you imagination.You have until 5 p.m. Thursday to enter. Winners will be chosen at random and notified via email. So check yours if you enter.
When the producers of the new Katherine Heigl political series, “State of Affairs,” were putting the show together they could have gone the easy route and had the President be played by a white male. They could be creative and either have the President be a woman or a different ethnicity.
They elected to do both casting the talented Alfre Woodard as the President. She has both a professional connection to Heigl’s character who is a high level CIA analyst and through her son.
Woodard loves that the role wasn’t cast in a safe way.
UPDATED 11/14: When I received word yesterday about Theodore Kuchar stepping down, I posted right away. Then I followed up with interviews with Kuchar and Stephen Wilson, executive director of the Fresno Philharmonic. My story for today’s print and online editions includes this news: A major concern of Kuchar’s is that he feels his role as music director has been diminished recently. Here’s the updated story.
ORIGINAL POST: I just received word from the Fresno Philharmonic that Theodore Kuchar, its acclaimed music director, will step down at the end of the 2015-16 season. By the end of his tenure, he will have completed 15 years at the helm of the orchestra.
In a press release, Kuchar says:
I am extremely proud of numerous memorable performances we have given. Many of these, such as major works of Beethoven, Bruckner, Dvorak, Mahler, Martinu, Nielsen, Revueltas, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky will always remain as standards in my memory. The collaborations with distinguished guest artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Sarah Chang, Joshua Bell, Lynn Harrell and many others continue to be discussed today while some of the popular initiatives such as Cirque de la Symphonie will always remain a part of our legacy.
During the past several years, the Fresno Philharmonic has also presented innovative music education initiatives, including being one of the first sites for the San Francisco Symphony’s Keeping Score program and becoming a national partner of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute in presenting Link Up: The Orchestra Sings. I have no reservation in saying that the Fresno Philharmonic and I have often delivered performances that are not typical of a regional American orchestra but those of a standard to be expected in a major musical capital.
J.D. Northway, president of the board of directors, had this to add:
We are grateful for the outstanding work Maestro Kuchar has done here in Fresno over the past thirteen seasons. The orchestra sounds better than ever. By informing us of his decision now, Maestro Kuchar has given us plenty of time to ensure a smooth transition in the artistic leadership of the Fresno Philharmonic.
This is a big deal. Kuchar’s expertise, connections (all important in the world of classical music) and — most of all — his enthusiasm have all contributed mightily to the orchestra’s recent successes. His shoes will be hard to fill.
Details on the search process for a new Fresno Philharmonic music director will be “forthcoming soon,” orchestra officials say.
Kate McKnight is guest directing Fresno Pacific University’s fall theater production of “Truth and Reconciliation,” a play by Etan Frankel. It’s playing off-campus at the Severance Theatre in the Tower District. I excerpted parts of our discussion in my big theater roundup in Friday’s 7 section. Here’s the extended interview:
Question: What is the plot?
Answer: The play is set Cartuga, a fictitious Central American country. A young American doctor goes to the country to provide medical care for local peasants, is mistakenly associated with the CIA and is murdered. His parents are asked to return to the country three years later for a “Truth and Reconciliation” commission based on those that Bishop Tutu organized in South Africa. Instead of revenge for their son’s death they get answers and some healing.
What is the play’s production history? Do you know if this is a local premiere?
Yes, it’s a Fresno premiere. It won the Willamstown Theatre Festival 2006 L. Arnold Weissberger Award, selected out of 300 nominated plays. I couldn’t find any theatre company that had done a full production except for the staged reading when it won the award. A company in British Columbia is mounting a production this winter. Starting in 2008, the playwright started writing mainly for television: “Gossip Girl,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Shameless” … Hollywood got him!
I don’t think I’ve ever seen College of the Sequoias theater instructor Chris Mangels direct a show written by Stephen Sondheim, but my guess is that the pair makes a pretty good combination. Mangels opens Sondheim’s “Company” tonight (Nov. 14) in a production that celebrates the dawn of the sexual revolution for the middle class. I excerpted parts of my discussion with Mangels in my Friday 7 section theater roundup. Here’s the extended version.
Is this version of “Company” based on the latest Broadway version? (I know in that production the actors played musical instruments, but I’m assuming that yours is more traditional.)
The John Doyle version from 2008 (with the actors playing their own instruments) is a really unique beast that is best left to Doyle’s aesthetic and to a very cosmopolitan audience that probably already knows the show. While I respect what he did with it, I most connect with the show as a Hal Prince originally directed it; that is, as a ‘Musical Comedy’ that gets surprisingly serious and sober-minded throughout the story. I don’t think that it needs to be made ‘darker’ or more ‘urbane’ as is often the case with recent revivals. I am embracing it as a period piece (circa 1970) and not apologizing for the glorious pop sensibilities of that original score or the surreal nature of much of the script.
What time period are you setting it in?
1970. It was the dawn of the sexual revolution in the middle class and this show really explores the ideas of that time in a unique (but still universal) way. Our set, costumes, and live orchestra are really enforcing that aesthetic and I absolutely LOVE it. I think audiences will have a blast!
It’s a very busy local theater weekend, with me highlighting five openings in Friday’s 7 section. In my roundup, I chat briefly with Bob Creasy, director of the new production of “Boeing-Boeing” at Fresno City College. Here’s the extended version of my interview:
Question: What is the plot?
Answer: This 1960’s French farce follows Parisian Bernard, a Lothario, who has Italian, German, and American fiancées, each beautiful airline hostesses with frequent “layovers”. He manages this trick by having one in the air, one on the ground, and the other awaiting arrival. Everything falls apart when his friend Robert arrives and the airlines employ the new, faster Boeing aircraft. Robert and Bernard have to keep the girls apart and unaware of each other’s presence.
What year was the play originally written?
My research shows that the French play was translated into English by Beverly Cross in 1962, but the original French script was written in 1960 by Marc Camoletti. A widely acclaimed 2007 London revival of the play brought the show back to life. With an updated translation by Francis Evans, minor script changes were made to make the farce resonate with contemporary audiences. For instance the three fiancées went from Judith (German), Janet (American) and Jacqueline (French) to Gretchen (German), Gloria (American), and Gabriella (Italian). This version of the play opened on Broadway in 2008 winning the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play and Best Actor in a Play (Mark Rylance in the role of Robert).
Question: The trio was founded in 1999 with the name Arsika. How did the three of you get together?
Answer: It is an interesting story. Karen Kocharyan, our cellist, is a founder of the trio, he plays here from the first day and that time name Arsika was formed by two first letters from the names of each member of the trio: Areg, Sibil, Karen. But then crew changed and in 2004 Armine Grigoryan came to the trio as a constant member. The same year I met Karen Kocharyan during my concert tour in Armenia. We played together the “Four Seasons” by Vivaldi and mentioned the same musical feelings. And two years later Karen offered me to join them to try to play together. So, since 2006 we are together.
I devote the Friday 7 section cover story to four notable classical music events taking place this weekend. Here’s an extended version of my interview with longtime Fresno Community Chorus member Alan Peters, who performs “Messiah” with the chorus Nov. 15 and 16.
Question: How long have you been a member of the Fresno Community Chorus?
My wife and I joined the chorus in early 1967, with our first concert in May 1967 being Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Fresno Philharmonic, under Maestro Thomas Griswold. That began a long association with the chorus that has continued until today. There have been seasons when we were not able to sing with the chorus, but we have sung without a break since the coming of Dr. Hamre, whom we both consider as the finest choral director we have ever known.
What is your first memory of hearing “Messiah”? Did you hear it as a child?
Music has always been a part of my life. I remember sitting by my mother’s side in church—and my Mennonite background has a long history of four-part congregational singing—with her singing the soprano melody, and me singing the alto line of every hymn. I was lucky to attend public schools in my childhood that included music in the curriculum, so I learned how to read music early and, like most of my friends, took piano lessons as a child, and also learned to play a number of musical instruments—all as part of my public elementary school education here in California! I can’t remember the first time I heard the Hallelujah Chorus—I have always known it from hearing it in church. This includes “knowing” that it was customary—and expected—that we always stood when the Hallelujah Chorus was performed! The first time I heard the whole oratorio was as an elementary school student in San Jose, when my church choir sang it, with full orchestra. Since that first time, I have heard it regularly over the years. One of my sharpest memories was attending a performance of Messiah as a seventeen-year-old in San Jose, with the director solemnly announcing that his teacher and mentor, the composer Jean Sibelius, had just died, and dedicated the performance to the great composer’s memory!
Fans have to wait until April to see Christian singer Chris Tomlin, who announced his “Love Ran Red” tour will stop at the Save Mart Center April 16. Tickets are $28.50-$38.50 and available at noon today at the arena box office, select Save Mart Supermarkets, online at ticketmaster.com or on the phone at (800) 745-3000. Tomlin, who has 10 No. 1 singles, 18 Dove Awards and three Grammy nominations, played was in town last year on his “Burning Lights Tour.”
Five network shows launched for the 2014-2015 season have already been canceled.
It was no surprise that “Utopia” was the first new series to get the ax. The idea of putting a group of strangers in a remote location and letting them build a society was neither original nor interesting. It was a joke.
And speaking of jokes, the other four canceled shows were comedies (or at least described themselves as comedies).
ABC ended “Selfie” and “Manhattan Love Story” while NBC pulled the plug on “Bad Judge” and “A to Z.” Of the four, “Bad Judge” had the most potential but not enough to survive.
When I was younger (and yes, there was a time when I was younger), one of the best parts of going to the movies was seeing the animated shorts. There weren’t a trillion TV channels where cartoons could be watched all the time. That made any animated short at the theaters a real treat.
That trend went away for a long time. It’s been exciting to watch the Walt Disney Studios revive the practice. The latest animated short offering from the company can be seen with the new feature film, “Big Hero 6.”
“The Feast” is the story of a scrappy dog who will eat anything put in front of him. The real story is the relationship he has with his master over the years. It’s a sweet story of love and loyalty.
Kristina Reed, producer of “The Feast,” was working on “Big Hero 6” when she got moved over to riding herd over the animated short. The biggest challenge she faced was that while Disney has been making shorts for a few years – including the Oscar winning “Paperman” – it’s a company built around making feature length movies.
“Your challenge as a short producer is you’re just running along, like this person’s free for two weeks? Great, come on to my show and do this. There’s a little animation team that has four weeks available? Come on to my show and do this,” Reed says. “You’re trying to sort of thread through and make consistent progress with random resources becoming available at random moments in time.
Two theater productions open Nov. 13 in Fresno. At Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater, Good Company Players is reviving the sultry musical revue “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.” From the company:
This smokin’ hot revue, spanning the ‘50’s, ‘60’s and ‘70’s, features the toe- tapping, hip-swiveling, soul searing music of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The duo burst into the music industry as teenagers and launched a body of work that runs the gamut from rhythm and blues to novelty with romantic ballads, doo-wop, and rock-and-roll liberally sprinkled throughout. The score of Smokey Joe’s Cafe includes songs like “Stand By Me,” “Yakety Yak,” “Spanish Harlem,” “Kansas City,” “Trouble,” Jailhouse Rock,” “On Broadway,” “Fools Fall In Love,” “On Broadway” and a myriad of other hits.
At Severance Theatre just up the street, the Fresno Pacific University Theatre Department opens Etan Frankel’s “Truth and Reconciliation.” Director Kate McKnight explains the plot:
The play is set Cartuga, a fictitious Central American country. A young American doctor goes to the country to provide medical care for local peasants, is mistakenly associated with the CIA and is murdered. His parents are asked to return to the country three years later for a “Truth and Reconciliation” commission based on those that Bishop Tutu organized in South Africa. Instead of revenge for their son’s death they get answers and some healing.
“Smokey Joe’s” runs through Jan. 11. Details here. “Truth and Reconciliation” runs through Nov. 22. Details: (559) 453-5586.
On the jump: a photo from “Truth and Reconciliation.”
You’re in the mood for something sweet, right? Three new bakeries have opened in the area selling not just cakes, but individual-sized sweet treats. Each has a pastry case full of goodies where you can pick up a 99-cent cream puff, for example, on your lunch break or on the way home from work. You can read all about what’s driving this trend in today’s food page story, but here’s the skinny (or not so skinny?) on where the bakeries are and what they specialize in.
Baked Sunnyside, 6105 E. Kings Canyon Road, next to Sunnyside Bicycles. This new bakery specializes in cakes with licensed Disney characters on them, but also has a pastry case full of goodies: cupcakes, mini strawberry pies, sugar cookies and more. The sugar cookies are the top seller here. Baked also sells 25 flavors of Hawaiian shave ice and 12 flavors of Fresno State ice cream. They’re open from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Last week’s viral video, “10 Hours of Walking in New York as a Woman,” captured undercover, depicted the street harassment a young woman endured while walking the streets of New York City while moderately dressed in black jeans and a crew neck T-shirt.
Today’s comedic answer is “10 Hours of Princess Leia Walking in NYC,” whereupon a young woman dressed in “a simple white dress with her hair in space buns” is summarily harassed by… well, watch the vid.
Those following the ongoing battle over net neutrality got a super dose of political back-and-fourth as Senator Ted Cruz took to Twitter Monday to decry President Obama’s call for the FCC to reclassify consumer broadband service as a utility — a move that would protect net neutrality by giving the FCC authority to keep those service providers in check.
"Net Neutrality" is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.
I enjoyed the Fresno Philharmonic’s intimate concert over the weekend. (I attended the Saturday evening performance at the Shaghoian Hall.)
The good: Zuill Bailey, master cellist, wowed the audience with his cello acrobatics in Prokofiev’s difficult Sinfonia Concertante. Bailey was cool yet intense as his runs exploded at thrice-roller-coaster speed and his fingers skipped over the fingerboard so quickly they blurred. The composer threw in every trick other than making the soloist stand on his head while playing. It was an impressive performance. Another highlight: the orchestra’s Brahms Symphony No. 4 was strong, from Janette Erickson’s rousing flute solo to Maestro Theodore Kuchar’s emotive conducting.
The so-so: Perhaps it was where I was sitting in the auditorium, but the orchestra’s well-known opening piece, Dvorak’s “Carnival Overture,” seemed out of balance to me, with the percussion overwhelming other instruments in some parts with a clangy, tinny dominance.
OK, the Facebook photo of the day is mine. I posted it on Facebook and received more responses than any post I’ve ever done: 134 “likes” and 26 comments as of 1 p.m. today. So I thought I’d share it with Beehive readers. Here’s my Facebook explanation:
I’m not one to post lots of dog photos, but this one is special: Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary that we picked Tillie up and she became part of our lives. To mark the occasion, we brought out every one of the stuffed toys (and a dog bed) that she chewed up over the past year. (Not included: my brother’s bedroom rug, two pairs of glasses and the electric shaver foil from my Braun.) We wouldn’t have it any other way: She’s become a treasured member of the family.
Needless to say, I’ve started buying tougher dog toys.
While touring the new Tower District location of Bebe O’s Boutique (in the former dojo, more on that here), I stopped in my tracks when I saw these babies. See the big furry things on the boots at left? They’re not boots, but leg warmers slipped on over a pair of boots. This is apparently a thing. It’s quite the fashion statement, that’s for sure. Would you wear them? Are they crazy cool or just Bigfootesque?