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With ‘Master Class,’ a powerhouse weekend of theater

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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.

Responses to "With ‘Master Class,’ a powerhouse weekend of theater"

Allwino says:

I was fortunate enough to see a rehearsal of the show Tuesday night – and was absolutely captivated from the beginning to the end. Quite possibly one of the most compelling pieces of theater I have ever seen. Jacqueline Antaramian is absolutely amazing as Callas, Taylor Abels is wonderful, Terry Lewis is great, Alicia O’Neill is fantastic – I was just completely in awe of the entire production. Do everything you can to see this show, Fresno – it’s one not to be missed!

Heather P says:

As loathe as I am to promote a show running in competition for closing weekend of my company’s HAMLET, I just can’t keep my mouth shut about MASTER CLASS.

Jacqueline Antaramian was a revelation in the pre-tech run-through I was grateful to catch. The entire ensemble is terrific supporting her, but Antaramian goes beyond playing Maria Callas: she embodies the very artistry that Callas so honestly created and championed.

The play itself is a master class in being a performing artist. Anyone who aspires to tread the boards in any capacity should see the play this weekend.

(But if they can’t for some reason, we’ll happily give them our raw, emotional “Hamlet” at The New Ensemble!)

Kristin C says:

Jacqueline’s performance was transformative. I could use many adjectives to describe her, all good, but I think the best I can say for the show and her in particular is that I didn’t want to meet her after the rehearsal I saw, I wanted her Maria Callas to live in my brain for a few days. The production is brilliant, my only regret is that I am not able to see it in the beautiful Shagoian Hall.

Max Debbas says:

Here are a few videos about it.

https://vimeo.com/40726537

https://vimeo.com/41113998

Anjali says:

Have you ever had a moment where you knew you were in the presence of a truly gifted person? I sat in on Tuesday night and watched a rehearsal for Master Class with Jacqueline Antaramian and her performance touched my soul. I laughed, I cried and I am forever changed. My suggesstion to all of you, see the show Master Class this weekend.

pk says:

This had to be one of the best things I have EVER seen (Friday night performance)!!…..
Antaramian as Callas was mesmerizing–you could hear a pin drop during her soliloquies, just a breathtaking and gifted performance!
We are fortunate to have this ‘Broadway’ cast in town….
Just go see it!!