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Donald’s Top 20 cultural events of 2009

UPDATED 12/27: Includes column link.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: In my Sunday Spotlight column I present one of my annual traditions: my Top 20 list of Fresno cultural events. Here’s the list in abbreviated form in alphabetical order:

1. AlmaNova, CSU Summer Arts.
2. Ashley Taylor in “The Last Five Years,” Organic Theater Factory.
3. “Beauty and the Beast,” CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre.
4. Concordia College Choir, Shaghoian Hall.
5. “eurydice,” Fresno City College.
6. Gallery 25′s anniversary celebration.
7. “Grasmere,” Fresno City College.
8. “Hairspray,” Good Company Players.
9. Jane Delaney, Spectrum Gallery.
10. Jason Glover’s run for the title on “So You Think You Can Dance.”
11. Mahler Symphony No. 1 performance, Fresno State Symphony Orchestra and Fresno Youth Philharmonic.
12. Maynard Dixon and Rondal Partridge exhibitions, Fresno Art Museum.
13. “Peter Pan,” Musical Theaterworks Fresno.
14. San Francisco Mime Troupe, Summer Arts.
15. Samantha KnJoi, “Suor Angelica,” California Opera.
16. Sons of the San Joaquin with the Fresno Philharmonic.
17. “Splash,” Corridor 2122.
18. “A Studio of Their Own,” Fresno State.
19. “Tales from Ovid,” Fresno State.
20. “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” Saroyan Theatre.

What do you think? What would you add? (And if you have something to add, what would you take away to get to 20?)

Responses to "Donald’s Top 20 cultural events of 2009"

Stephen says:

Your definition of ‘cultural’ leaves out pop-culture items, which I can totally see you doing, except you mention Jason on SYTYCD.

I think I would have to remove Peter Pan and add Rocky Horror at Severance. That show was lightning in a bottle of talent and skills and audience size.

You passed on the Rogue Festival performances, but aren’t passing on yearly festival stuff, since you include so much Summer Arts performances.

So I’d drop Jason’s run and at least add Gemma Wilcox’ stunning/amazing one-woman show from The Rogue (‘The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over.’)

I think the very opening of the Shaghoian and the new Dan Pessano theatre are cultural events.

But then I think having Kim Kardashian here was a cultural event.

Annonymous says:

How about adding Lost in Yonkers at 2nd Space? To anyone, including yourself, Donald, who saw this show, walked away mesmerized and touched. Beautiful story and the acting work by Danielle Jorn, Pat Hoffman, and Peter Allwine was top notch… And this gets missed?

Mike says:

I would drop Peter Pan and the San Francisco Mimes and replace them with Rocky Horror (for all the reasons Stephen stated) and Cheyenne Gray in CMT’s Evita (her voice was extraordinary).

Magnus says:

I definitely agree with number 2!!! Sooo good.

Carlos says:

I would definitely have included Cheyenne Gray in Evita. She is an AMAZING singer!!

Elizabeth says:

Wasn’t Rocky Horror part of 2008? Or are we counting the one that’s about to happen on the 31st?

Donald Munro says:

I loved “Rocky Horror,” too, but it was a 2008 event, not 2009. Time flies, eh?

hmm, i dont know. The list just seems a little narrow. I guess it begs the question whats “cultural”?

….just performing arts? and within the performing arts what counts as worthy of being called a ‘cultural event’?

I know when you start asking this, pandora’s box opens. I suppose anything and everything can be called a ‘cultural event’ ..hmong new years, the big fresno fair, Mexican Independence Day Celebration on the Fulton Mall, etc etc….

Anonymous says:

There was a show; “How I Loved You,” that featured a very talented guy by the name of Daren Esqueda. Does anyone know more about him? I thought he was extraordinarily talented and my husband and I can’t wait for another show with him to go into production.

blake says:

I wouldn’t take away anything. What good would that do?

But I would add “Rogue Festival” and “(re:)FUSE festival” oh yeah.

Jeremy Hitch says:

Ashley Taylor absolutely deserves the recognition in this list. Her work in this show was just a highlight in the myriad of phenomenal performances under her belt. I also agree with many of the other choices. What a great year 2009 has been with the arts in Fresno and Clovis. Congrats on the great work!

soddruntlestuntle says:

Ummm, The Rogue Festival? Guess this shows how much respect it garners from the mainstream press…

Mike Oz says:

Yeah, because we hardly cover it, right?

Donald Munro says:

Patrick, I agree that the term “cultural” is a little wishy-washy. But it’s hard to think of a better one. Basically, I’m using “cultural” as shorthand for “theater-classical-music-opera-visual-arts.” Or, to be more specific: Stuff That Donald Munro Covers. There are other options for generic terms: “fine arts,” for example. But is “Hairspray” a fine art? Another I’ve seen used is “lively arts,” which sounds a bit uppity.

LIla Reed says:

Trip to Bountiful?
How can Fresno’s 5th? production of Beauty and the Beast be considered an event?

I have always had a hard time with this- How can an individual’s performance in a show with other people be a cultural event? It basically says that the others contributed nothing to the production. I think you should change the name of this list to “Arts stuff I really liked in 2009.”

Donald Munro says:

Another reply, Stephen: I went back and forth on whether to include Jason’s run on “So You Think You Can Dance.” It was a TV show, after all. But it had such a strong local connection in terms of the Fresno dance scene that I really wanted to include it. And it was prime exposure for the Dance Studio of Fresno, where Jason trained.

Donald Munro says:

Yeah, Mike, I laughed out loud at this comment — considering that in 2009 we ran TWENTY reviews of Rogue shows and eight other posts on the Beehive, and in the print edition gave the festival a big splash over the course of two weeks. I enjoyed the Rogue, as always, but there weren’t any individual shows or performances that stood out for me enough to make my Top 20 list. (I know that Stephen loved “The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over” with Gemma Wilcox, but I wasn’t as taken with it as he was.) With this list, I was more interested in outstanding moments rather than institutions. (And I could probably have conveyed that goal in a clearer way.) If I were to compile a Top 20 list of cultural institutions in town, the Rogue would certainly make that list.

Read music critic George Warren’s Top Ten Concerts of the Decade here.

jesus mendoza says:

I would add these 3 cultural events: 1)Pow Wow @ Fresno State, 2)Hmong New Years, and 3)FSU Posadas. These are all annual events. The two fsu cultural events are free to the public, and the Posadas actually offer a taste of the traditional December Mexican gastronomy; at no cost to the guests. These are awesome cultural events which invite the rest of the fresno community to appreciate and interact with these other community members in a more intimate manner. The events include art in the form of theatre, dance, photography, tradition, and academia. I had one of the best experiences in my life when I attended the Hmong New Year. It made me realize that I knew almost nothing about these great community members who are the Hmong people. There is another annual fsu cultural that I strongly recommend to everybody, and happens also during the fall semester. This event is the Multicultural Night; it has some awesome performers from different parts of the world. Thanx

Sandra says:

I agree, CMT’s version of Evita was much better that their version of Peter pan. Evita had a much stronger cast of performers. I agree that Cheyenne Gray was exceptional in her cast as Evita as was Erik Noiseywaters in his as Peron. Both are incredible talents. The artistry involved in that production went beyond the years of such a young cast. It was a great show.

cheyenne says:

shout out to the cast of peter pan!!! you guys did great!!! :)

Joseph says:

Some of these choices I agree with, some left me unimpressed. If you’re going to single out individual performers, I think Brad Myers in THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER should be at the top of the list. Next would be Danielle Jorn in LOST IN YONKERS. These two performances were in a league of their own, far surpassing usual community theatre expectations.

Jessica says:

I definelty think Cheyenne Gray deserves a shout out for her role in Evita. She really nailed the role and has an amazing voice. I also think that Eric Martinez-Noiseywaters deserves to be on the list for his portrayal as Peron. I beleive, it was you donal that loved his rendition of the character of Peron. He had an unique take on the role that made him memorable. Evita was pretty amazing. Shout out to a great director Terry Lewis that made a small ensemble really work hard and seem like there was actually more people on stage. Again Cheyenne Gray and Eric Noiseywaters deserve a spot on that list!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and i like Jason Glover being on the list, you should also add Chris colfer’s role on Glee since the show is Amazing and insanely popular.

also you should add Lost In Yonkers!! Danielle Jorn was Amazing and Michael Gregory was pretty awesome as well and he is only a junior at Clovis High.