Fresno gets its fair share of professional theater productions — but they’re almost always of the touring musical variety. On Friday, a rare event occurs when StageWorks Fresno opens a show that has a hybrid cast of professionals and community-theater veterans. “Master Class” features actors in two leading roles direct from the Broadway production.
I wrote a big profile in Sunday’s Spotlight section of Jacqueline Antaramian, a widely respected professional actor who grew up in Fresno. She plays Maria Callas in Terrence McNally’s acclaimed play about the celebrated diva, and she understudied Tyne Daly in the role on Broadway. Though she’s familiar to old-time theatergoers for her roles in Good Company Players and Fresno State productions, this will be Antaramian’s first professional performance in Fresno.
She’s joined by Brian Cali, also an understudy in the Broadway production, and by another Fresno hometown gal, Alicia O’Neill, an opera singer living in Austria, Vienna. I catch up with O’Neill in an interview in Friday’s 7 section.
There are only three performances of “Master Class” (8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday) so there isn’t a lot of time for word of mouth to build. But I’ve noticed lots of buzz for the show on Facebook, particularly from members of the local theater community who have had the chance to see a preview performance. (Perhaps some of those proponents will reprise their recommendations via comments on this post.) I’m planning to see the show opening night.