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Notes from the theater beat

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Jeff White is all over the theater news this week. Not only is he directing the new Artists’ Repertory Theatre production of “The Fantasticks,” which opens Friday, but he’s also been named the new artistic director of Children’s Musical Theaterworks. According to the company:

White will oversee all productions in the Children’s Musical Theaterworks and Musical Theaterworks Fresno 2009 season lending his talents in set design, costuming, props and overall production quality. While also will be starting a series of performance arts classes that will run year round starting with a Spring Break theater camp this April.

He most recently worked with the company directing and set designing the winter 2008 production of “Peter Pan.”

On the jump: This weekend’s openings include Roosevelt High School of the Arts getting zany with “Epic Proportions” and Fresno State getting Greek on us with “Tales from Ovid.” Plus: Playhouse Merced puts in a pitch for “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

Some more background on Jeff White:

White first worked with MTF on the winter 2007 production of “Beauty and the Beast” and the spring 2008 Production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” White recently returned to Fresno from an 8 year stint in San Francisco where he worked with many different theater companies such as American Conservatory Theater, Berkley Rep, California Shakespeare festival, and New Conservatory Theater in many different capacities ranging from props artisan and set designer to actor and director.

Fans of the Artists’ Repertory Theatre production of “The Rocky Horror Show” will recognize White for playing the pivotal role of Brad, the mild-mannered male lead who ends up wearing a leather bustier. So you could say that Fresno has already had a grand introduction.

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EPIC PROPORTIONS
Fresno’s acclaimed performing arts high school, the Roosevelt High School of the Arts, is staging the comedy “Epic Proportions.” Patrick Allan Tromborg directs the show, which opens Friday. If this title-director combo sounds familiar, it’s because Good Company Players produced it at the 2nd Space Theatre — with Tromborg directing — in 2005.

Local film director Vince Cosentino, who shot a locally produced movie, “Beaten Path,” in Fresno, notes that one of the leads in the Roosevelt production of “Epic Proportions” is a major player in the movie. He writes:

The reason I am sharing this info is that one of the leads in the play is Gabriel Griffith. Gabe was featured as Young Rick in my movie, “Beaten Path.” We are very proud of and excited for him. He is only a freshman in high school, but managed to land a leading role in a play at a school which is known for their theater productions. If you can, please attend one of these performances. Just so you know, “Epic Proportions” will be a movie soon, too. It is in production under the control of comic master John Landis. It is set for release some time in 2010. So, don’t wait. Go see the play now!

See the poster above for dates and ticket information.

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TALES FROM OVID
I wrote about Fresno State’s “Tales from Ovid,” a new production directed by dance professor Ruth Griffin, in Sunday’s Spotlight section. Here’s how I describe it:

All theater is movement, of course — even Samuel Beckett’s famed “Happy Days,” in which the single character is buried up to her neck for the course of the play — and any director, whether of a musical or not, is keenly aware of how actors inhabit and embellish a specific theatrical space. But this Fresno State production is striving for a union of actors and dancers that breaks some of the traditional boundaries between the two disciplines.

“Tales from Ovid” opens Friday in the Woods Theatre. It continues through April 4. Don’t miss the special art exhibit being presented in the theater lobby in conjunction with the show. It’ll highlight works inspired by classical Greek myths, dance, music and the human form. Featured artists include Jonathan Bock, whose “Pentheus Dismembered by the Women of Thebes” is shown above.

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THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
Robert Hypes of Playhouse Merced sends along this reminder to people looking for good children’s theater:

“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” is a dramatization of C.S. Lewis’ classic, and faithfully recreates the magic and mystery of Narnia. Join the adventure as the production follows four children in war-torn England as they accidentally enter the land of Narnia by climbing through a magic wardrobe.

This story of love, faith, courage and giving, with its triumph of good over evil, is a true celebration of life. “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” features a diverse cast from all over the Central Valley, including local favorites: Richard Miley, George Winningham, and UC Merced teacher Michael Winder portraying Aslan. This amazing show will allow families to have fun, and get lost in this magical, mystical world, Narnia.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday evenings and at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday afternoons through March 29.

Responses to "Notes from the theater beat"

Vince says:

Donald,

Thank you so much for your support of local art and artist. What you do is greatly appreciated.

Thanks again,

Vince

Stephen says:

Jeff White is very very talented. A triple threat, he can sing, act, and design and build wonderful sets at any budget (quadruple threat? quintuple??).

What Jeff White cannot do is say “No.” Let’s re-read that comment: “White will oversee all productions in the Children’s Musical Theaterworks and Musical Theaterworks Fresno 2009 season lending his talents in set design, costuming, props and overall production quality. While also will be starting a series of performance arts classes that will run year round starting with a Spring Break theater camp this April.”

Set design = one person.
Costume = one person.
Props = one person.
Artistic Director = one person.
Teaching = one person.
Theatre Camp = one person.

PLUS directing Fantasticks, which opens just one week prior to his spring break theatre camp.

I predict a wonderful run for CMT with Jeff at the helm, lasting all of about 3 months when Jeff, at a very young age, will suffer a combination nervous breakdown, heart attack, stroke, and will enter rehab.

Jeebus, Jeff. Hire some help, willya?

Kristin says:

Epic Proportions sounds great, and I’ve heard great things about Mr. Tromborg. Roosevelt always puts on the best shows. I’ll definitely be there!

Vince says:

We just got back from opening night for Epic Proportions at RSA. What a great show! Fresno, we have some really talented young actors. Comedy is all about the timing and these young people have got it down. Kudos to Tromborg for harvesting the talent from these actors and feeding the audience one laugh after the next.