Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Donald’s Top 20 cultural events of 2011

In my Sunday Spotlight column I present one of my annual traditions: my Top 20 list of Fresno cultural events. (Basically, I’m using “cultural” as shorthand for “theater-classical-music-opera-visual-arts.” Or, to be more specific: Stuff That Donald Munro Covers.) It was hard to narrow down my list this year, and I’m sure there will be some readers who feel I left something important off it. The hard part becomes figuring what you’d take off the list to include an omitted item. I started with 44 possibilities — all stuff I quite liked — and had to whittle it down. Here is my list in abbreviated form in alphabetical order:

1. “The Ballad of Chet,” Fresno City College.
2. “Best of the Bay 2,” Lively Arts Foundation.
3. Wynn Bullock, Spectrum Art Gallery.
4. “The Comedy of Errors,” Woodward Shakespeare Festival.
5. “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater.
6. Fresno Dance Collective, Rogue Festival.
7. Fresno Philharmonic plays Barber and Rachmoninoff.
8. Juan Diego Florez, Fresno Grand Opera.
9. “Gospel Mass,” Fresno Community Chorus.
10. “The Hatchery: East of Fresno,” contemporary art exhibition.
11. “The Light in the Piazza,” StageWorks Fresno.
12. Live music at “The Nutcracker.”
13. Nikolai Lugansky, Keyboard Concerts.
14. Nanete Maki-Dearsan exhibition, Gallery 25.
15. Audra McDonald, Warnors theater.
16. Amalia Mesa-Bains exhibition, Fresno Art Museum.
17. “Les Miserables,” Children’s Musical Theaterworks.
18. “The Pillowman,” The New Ensemble.
19. “Rancho Tesoro,” Woodward Park.
20. “Wicked,” Saroyan Theatre.

What do you think? What would you add or take away?

Here are my 2009 and 2010 lists.

Responses to "Donald’s Top 20 cultural events of 2011"

Rosalinda Cooper says:

Ummmmmmm, yeah… I hesitate to say it, being I am a FCC Theater graduate & all, but I was severely disappointed with Chet. It feels very… borrowed… and… insane?
The actors & set, etc fine… script? Not so much…

Alana Hill says:

The Ballad of Chet! Awesome!

…it’s also been nominated for an David Mark Cohen award from the Kennedy Center.

suzanne says:

Now I am really bummed that we didn’t check out CMT’s Les Miserables! We saw Wicked and loved it and that came in 2 down from Les Mis. in the list. Bravo, CMT! Bravo!!

Alana says:

Ballad of Chet, Yippie! Awesome!

The play has been nominated for a David Mark Cohen award from the Kennedy Center. Nice work Mr. Erven

:P…if I had money

Amelia Ryan says:

Interesting list. Reminds me I need to get out and see more art. Glad you included The Pillowman. Love that play, and New Ensemble did a fine job. Hurray for them for bringing edgy new stuff to Fresno!

Jennifer Hurd-Peterson says:

Thanks, Donald! We saw quite a few of these shows. Fresno just keeps getting better and better!

Brandon says:

I was quite impressed with Servant of Two Masters at CSUF. The direction was creative and fresh and the entire ensemble committed to the farcical, lyrical approach with ease.

jessica says:


On behalf of all those involved with last season’s Comedy of Errors, and on behalf of everyone at WSF, thank you, Donald.

Laura says:

I would have added TRASHIQUE – the production-fashion show-event at the Fresno Art Museum. The collective of local hair stylists, makeup artists, FAM folks, Roseanne Guaglianone, choreographers, models and designers who made art from trash rivaled any similar show put on in NYC or London. I’m biased though.

Blair says:

Solid, eclectic list, Donald. I personally would have left off Wicked and added Edgar Meyer playing with the Fresno Phil. That guy was amazing.

Donald Munro says:

Thanks for mentioning “Servant of Two Masters,” Brandon. It was certainly high up on my list of possibles to include in my top 20. (In fact, I’d go so far as to say it was my No. 21.)

jamie says:

Comedy of Errors? Really? Ragtime, Servant, so many better choices. Sorry but I laughed once during the play and the audience when I was there was quiet and more interested in their cell phones than the show.