Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Donald’s weekend picks



A strong component of Vargas’ work at the Iron Bird is a series of moody, musing family portraits layered with memory and meaning. He doesn’t just paint people — one of the most striking pieces is a big, munching ox with a target painted on its side. It’s as if the hazy, layered technique momentarily slips the viewer into some weird, deeper level of bovine consciousness.

Another strength of the show is the way curator Steve Ruppel uses the sleek Iron Bird space to showcase the art. While Vargas’ portraits tend to be dark — the artist has said that he’s been “pushing the boundaries of how dark I can get the backgrounds without using any actual black” — many of his mixed-media objects feature bright, cheery hues. Of particular interest: the artist’s use of found objects, such as the vividly colored citrus harvesting field bags used by farmworkers, which sets up an interesting contrast with the more somber portraits.

The show continues through Aug. 26.


For a scrappy company such as the California Opera, mounting a full-scale opera with all the attendant hoopla — principal singers, chorus, costumes, sets, conductor — is quite a challenge. Try two in one weekend.

Two major works are being performed for the last weekend of Cal Opera’s annual festival: “La Traviata” 7 p.m. Friday; and “Madama Butterfly” 1 p.m. Sunday, both at the Mercedes Edwards Theatre in Clovis.

For a rundown, check out my Arts story in Friday’s issue of 7.



Again, another free cultural event. Pianist Michael Delfin, a student of The Peabody Conservatory and Johns Hopkins University, will give a concert 8 p.m. Friday that includes the works of Haydn, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Liebermann.

His performance at Fresno State’s Concert Hall is co-sponsored by the Phillip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts and the Fresno State music department.


We’re in the final weekend of “The Turn of the Screw” at the Broken Leg Stage. Don’t miss it.

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Responses to "Donald’s weekend picks"

marcel says:

I’m catching “Turn Of The Screw” tonight @ the Broken Leg Stage. Hoping there will be a good turnout for “Lysistrata” opening next weekend at the same venue.

Marci says:

I suggest seeing CMT’s production of ‘Fame: The Musical’ opening tonight at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in downtown fresno. This is a really good show with great dancing, vocals and drama. go to for info :)

Craig Kohlruss says:

+1 for Fame. After all, my kid is in it. :)

Angela says:

I caught Fame opening night (stanislavsky cast, i think?) and it was definitely worth it. great show. these kids have worked their butts off and deserve a great turnout.

Paul says:

I caught Fame at Cmt this weekend..great show! It actually has a lot of adult themes, but it still finds a way to be innocent. special mention to Branden, Tori, Marci and the actors who played serena and nick in the stanislavsky cast. great job!

Bradley says:

I am a resident of L.A (West Hollywood to be exact) and have performed in the LaJolla Playhouse and am part of the board there. I was visiting an old pal here in Fresno. I stumbled across an ad in the paper promoting FAME the Musical and went and watched it. The show itself was pretty good but there were definately some standout parts in the show. Ms. Megan Uribe was very real as the part of Carmen and I believed her. She captivated me during her song, In LA, not only with her vocals but with her emotions. Brava. Another was Ms. Marci Maxwell as the stern Mrs.Sherman. This character is usually played as a mean old lady but I loved the way this young lady portrayed her. She was very kind but you could see how serious she was as well, almost like a motherly figure. My last standout character and certainly my favorite was Mr.Brandon Gonzalez as Javier. I believed this kid from the get go. The moment he walked out on stage there was a prescence about him. I felt it. His energy was outstanding and made me want to get up and perform. I understand that this is a children’s theatre company but this young man should be doing bigger and better things. I don’t necessarily mean Community theatre either, I’m thinking of a place in New York ;) He definately was the star of the show and CMT is very lucky to have him in their production. Even the lady next to me stated that she felt he stole the show and exclaimed he was going to be huge one day, along with the rest of the family. The best thing was that after the show, I told him what a great job he did and he was the most humble thing ever and did not have an ego whatsoever. He was very sweet (along with Maxwell and Uribe). Those are the kinds of role models that we need on Broadway and those are the kind of people that succeed. My favorite number in the show was “Dancing on the Sidewalk” and by the sound of the applause, the audience agreed. Everyone in the cast was fantastic but these three stood out the most. If I were you, I would check out this show and see this kids. They are very entertaining to watch. And to Mr.Gonzalez, I guess we will be seeing your “name up in lights” very soon! Keep it up FAME Cast!!!
Brava and Break a Leg.

Elaine says:

Bradley, I could not agree with you more. I loved the show and there were definitely stronger actors out there than others. Just so you know, Bradley and I have known each other for at least 20 years now. Ms. Uribe and Ms. Maxwell were just outstanding. Mr. Gonzalez was captivating and I wish there was some way I could help him
Boost his career. Fresno has quite a gem on their hands and he is definitely a diamond in the rough. He must go on to bigger things and if that boy doesn’t do anything with his life in the entertainment industry, It would be a waste of talent. Along with Ms. Marci Maxwell, you are another gem and you will also be doing bigger and Better things I also got a chance to see the “Stanislavsky” Cast and they were terrific as well. Ms. Tori Sasso was another one who I could not stop watching. Her spunk on stage made it feel like she was actually that character. My what a voice she has as well. I definately did not expect it out of her and she also made the show entertaining for me as well. She has got what it takes. A few of other standouts were Ms. Catriona Fray ,Mr. Randy Kohlruss, and Ms. Jennifer Beatty. They were absolutely a delight to watch on stage. The girls in this show were very high energy. The boys were not very believable in this show. I did not believe nor favor the character of Joe and did actually enjoy Nick but it seemed a bit too much acting at one point. Most of the time, the boys were either over acting or not acting at all. I do agree 100% with Brad on the character of Javier and the young man who played him. It saved the show at some points. The chemistry between Javier and Mrs. Sherman were very real and so believable. Their story line was very powerful and the most outstanding. I’m not saying I didn’t like the boys. I just think they need to always keep trying with exception of a certain character. Well done CMT!!! I hope you all have a great run!

Elaine says:

Oh I almost forgot. To Ms.Uribe, you are 100% believable in thus role and you brought tears to my eyes during LA. I wish you the best and I also think your name will be up in lights as well. Along with Ms. Fray and Ms. Sasso. Outstanding. Bravissima!!!

Sherlock Holmes says:

I believe it is quite funny that all of the poor kids in the Fame cast have made this “weekend picks” post all about them, even though they were not included. After thorough research, I have found that there is no BRADLEY currently on the board at the La Jolla Playhouse, according to the official website. La Jolla Playhouse is also located in LA JOLLA, SAN DIEGO, not WEST HOLLYWOOD. These facts make it hard for me to believe the post above is legitimate. Hmm, looks like we have an impostor on our hands, and this impostor probably belongs to the “family” they refer to in their post aka FAME CAST MEMBER.

Embarrassing. If Mr. Munro wants to review Fame, he will do it himself and write his own article. Let’s stick to enjoying the free opera Donald Munro has so wisely recommended for us, instead using this space to shamefully promote a mediocre production.

john says:

No one seemed to mention the FAME Band. I think they were the highlight of the show, The Musical Director, Matthew Wheeler, took and average score and pumped it up to make a more modern show with the same feel. He belongs on Broadway, Musical Directing those shows. I say Bravo to the Cast and Band. Go see it.

Wise words says:

Amen sherlock amen. Thank you for your investigation. Bradley and elaines reviews seemed incredibly fabricated. And thank you for bringing up the topic of mediocrity. Because that infact is exactly what Fame was. Incredibly amateur and medicore. And thats putting it lightly. Thank you sherlock.

Very sad says:

How embaressing for the cast of Fame at this time. At least we have a list of names of people bradley and elaine mentioned. And I bet one of the kids mentioned, wrote this review. Were just gonna have to take a look at all the names mentioned now and all the kids in Fame. Whoever wrote this wanted the attention and now they are going to get it.

elyssa says:

They must really need to fill the seats for Fame over at CMT. How sad the cast of Fame felt they had to sink this low. Must suck to be them right now.

Watson says:

(spoken in British accent)
After further investigation, it is remarkably evident that “Bradley” and “Elaine” are indeed the same person. According to my hand writing analysis, the word “definately” has definitely been spelled incorrectly in BOTH posts. We have learned they have know each other for 20 years, yet this spelling of the word is congruent throughout both posts, therefore insinuating one person and their apparent lack of education. Also, contributing to the conclusion that we have an IMPOSTOR on our hands is the use of the title “Ms.” throughout both posts.
Alarmingly similar and unbearably embarrassing.

Elementary my dear Mr. Munro.

Calmdown says:

Hey you guys. These are kids you are talking about. First off don’t blame it on them. You have no idea who wrote it. It could be completely true or it could be a super fan in disguise. Well never know. It is a bit weird that they weren’t included and the topic of Fame came up. But you guys are saying some hurtful things to those kids who had nothing to do with it. Just saying.

Bradley says:

Excuse me for supporting a show. I
Find it preposterous to accuse me of being an imposter. I am obviously who I
Am. But just who do you think you all are! If this show is mediocre, you don’t need to bring a negative energy around it. You should be giving them an extra boost. Those poor kids are going to get the end of this. Don’t accuse them of writing their own revue. This is my fault. I shouldn’t have said anything. Thought you all were free speech people here. You can contact me at my email if you’d like at And just to clear this up, I do work for LaJolla Playhouse and have for the past 10 years and I reside in West Hollywood by the way. Obviously there is no playhouse there.

Jane says:

John, I agree! I was delighted to see a live band in a local show. I think this is an aspect of live musical theater that is too often overlooked. The band was great despite the mediocre score, and I cannot wait to hear the live band in 13 the musical, which from what I have listened to on the soundtrack has a brilliant score.

Thank you CMT for keeping music alive and exposing the live pit band experience to a younger generation who often misses out on it in high school and community theater.

Honest Patron says:

I just so happened to catch the CMT production of Fame this weekend and needless to say it was less than mediocre. It’s only my opinion. But in any case I do have to agree that Mr. Gonzalez was a show saver and did stand out amongst the cast. I have followed this kid due to his natural talent and he is good…very good. I believe Mr Munro commented on his performance in Hair as well and noted that he added flavor to the show. Understand these kids are given less than desired directing and funding. They will make do with what they are given and try their hearts out. Give them credit for that and frown upon CMT for their level of action. All kids that are aspiring actors/actresses don’t give up and follow your dreams. It’s better to have dreams than to have none at all. One quick remark…Perhaps the negativity comes from those that did not get mentioned and or disgruntled parents. Remember…these are kids and it is a small local Theatre Company.

Agreeing says:

Look at all of you! What a circus! Honestly who cares if it is true or not. Don’t be offended that these kids are getting compliments unlike you. Who honestly gives a crap if it was a real person or not. It was a nice thing to say about these performers and i agreed with what they wrote and I’m sure you all do too. I agree with the band comment as well. And as for the whole imposter thing, you obviously have no lives if you have to go through and research that. Honestly get one. You realize how stupid you all look. Don’t bring the Fame cast into this seeing as they had nothing to do with this. Just sticking up for them. Grow up.

Matureinsight says:

Why does this matter so much? Fame did great! Get over it. Sherlock and Watson. The fact that you guys are taking this much time to figure this out shows that you need to get a life!!! Keep going FAME Cast !

Deb says:

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Fame was a disaster. The day I went the lead girl was pitchy all of her songs and the lead males were terrible. Besides not being able to act at all. I could feel all of them straining. It was painful. I always remember back to some of the fabulous shows at CMT I saw back when Joel waa around. A level Fame wasnt even 1/16 at. Joel made the shows flawless and the talented kids he had in his shows seem to have left with him. Also performers dignities left when he left as well. It seems the kids need to write their own positive show reviews now.

Donald Munro says:

To all you enthusiastic “Fame” commenters:

Not sure how all this got stirred up, but we seem on this comment thread to be headed toward a flame war between just a couple of people. (Remember, I have access to the IP addresses of Beehive commenters, and it seems as if many of the differently signed comments are coming from two computers.) With that in mind, I’m hoping things will simmer down of their own accord. By all means, tell us what you think of the show if you want, but attacking other commenters isn’t cool.

One more point: I run a post titled “Donald’s Weekend Picks” almost every week, and not every event can make the list. That doesn’t mean I’m anti-”FAME” — in fact, I haven’t yet seen the production. I plan to on Thursday.

Harsh says:

I too saw the show and thought the kids did a great job. Kudos to the gang at CMT.

Theater go-er says:

Now this is just my opinion and I always look forward to commenting about it on donalds reviews and blogs. I love seeing theater in town whether its roger rockas or CMT. I saw Fame this past weekend with my husband, and it just wasnt what I expected. I didnt like it at all and though it was a below mediocre production, the kids looked like they were having fun. And I suppose thats what we should expect from CMT, a training ground for beggining performers. Not the same level shows at roger rockas are definitely at.

Derrick says:

So…as a cast member of Fame, i find this very embarrassing…not for our cast but for the people who apparently feel themselves a much better reviewer than the one who has been elected to see the shows. To everyone who has recently commented on the page, let us take a moment to realize what we just said. “performers dignities left when he left as well”, “not being able to act at all”, “incredibly amateur”. Well first off how dare anyone make a blanket statement about anybody’s dignities seeing as there is no proof whatsoever that anyone in the cast wrote this. Whether the statements were truly from “bradley” or “elaine” it doesn’t matter don’t take it out on the kids in the show who as a friend to all of them would never ever suspect them. This cast despite its everyday drama is extremely tight knit. I know that not one of the cast members wrote this because there is not a single person in the cast who has the ego or the self confidence to write any of these posts. We are all kids who enjoy doing theatre, of course we all have dreams of being on broadway or whatnot but none of us would ever do this. This is in fact amateur theatre so the negative comment of that should never have been posted, none of us are professionals so we thank you for recognizing us as exactly who we are :). And about not being able to act at all, well shame on you for saying that MR/MRS evil (there are other words i could use…), we are kids and i can’t believe that anyone would ever tell a kid no matter what age that they could “not act at all” which is far from true. Of course our cast is not great and is very far from perfect, but we are good and we love what we do and our emotions are real. Please come and see the show if you are eager to witness true emotions from a P.A High School. I realize that high school was such a long time ago for many of you but realize what may be over acting or not acting at all is exactly what we are, the true class of 2010 from P.A. Thanks and come see the show!

Opinionated says:

“Fame” at CMT was, in my opinion, better the mediocre but no where near what I have seen other theaters in town accomplish. It was a poor script performed well. Something that really stood out to me however was the choreography. As far as I know CMT has never been blessed with many “dancers”. Yes, they have people who can move but anything I have seen in the past few years choreography wise has been basic basic basic. I was very impressed with the cast and their ability to handle Daniel Chavez’s choreography. Though many lacked technique, the ensemble as a whole when dancing looked uniform and no one particularly stood out because they didn’t know what they were doing, or they weren’t in sync. For this I applaud Daniel Chavez and the Cast.

Fameopinion says:

I agree with Derrick. This is wrong to
Do to our cast and it’s not cool to accuse our cast of doing it. Whoever did it or if there even is a Bradley and Elaine out there, thank you all for the compliments but please don’t bring us down and please stop mentioning our names. It’s not cool to
Do that seeing as everyone thinks that the people mentioned are the ones writing it. I don’t care who it is. It could have been worse, they could have bashed our show. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Thank you and everyone come see Fame :)

Fameopinion says:

I agree with Derrick. This is wrong to
Do to our cast and it’s not cool to accuse our cast of doing it. Whoever did it or if there even is a Bradley and Elaine out there, thank you all for the compliments but please don’t bring us down and please stop mentioning our names. It’s not cool to
Do that seeing as everyone thinks that the people mentioned are the ones writing it. I don’t care who it is. It could have been worse, they could have bashed our show. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Thank you and everyone come see Fame :)

Judy Stene says:

As executive director of Children’s Musical Theaterworks I urge everyone to see our production of FAME to judge for themselves. I’m not sure what started this tsunami of blogs – but the cast and staff have worked hard to put on the best production possible. They say that there is no such thing as bad “press” and certainly everyone has a right to an opinion but remember we are a theater company dedicated to the education of our performers in the art of musical theater – all that audition are cast. When you attend our productions you see first time performers to seasoned veterans. See the show – find out for yourself what the talk is all about.