Patti Ogden and I had different views on the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara’s performance of “Jungle Book” at the Saroyan. I thought it was a mild success. She writes:
I found the performance to be utterly boring, and I would go as far to say it was the worst ballet I’ve ever seen. There was too much sameness to the whole show. The music and choreography were both boring. There wasn’t enough contrast in it either. There needs to be highs and lows, peaks and valleys to keep the performance interesting, especially when it’s a show that’s trying to pique the interest in dance with youngsters. Kids sitting around us were squirming in their seats. They were as bored as we were.
The costumes were creative but it was hard to tell which animals were which. There wasn’t enough differentiation in the costuming for the most part either. The snake and panther were the easiest to figure out. The rest of the costumes raised questions in the viewing. The dancing was totally uninspired. The dancers executed their steps but there was no fire, no spirit in their movements. I found the dancing lethargic. Perhaps that was because the choreography was uninspiring too … again too much sameness.
We were told the show was almost sold out and so were only able to get tickets in the lower balcony, which turned out to be just as expensive as the orchestra. That certainly was a rip- off. We saw lots of empty seats, and wondered why the ploy of almost sold out? Our tickets cost us over $100 with tax and it was money wasted on such a disappointing ballet.
I am a former dancer so I suppose I look at a ballet performance with a more critical eye than most people who attend shows. However, my husband, who likes ballet, but knows nothing about it, was just as bored as I was. He pleaded with me to leave at intermission. I said, “No, maybe the second part of the show will be better.” I reminded him we paid a lot of money for our tickets so should stay to the end. Well, we stayed but the performance didn’t get any better. We left the Saroyan feeling very let down after what should have been an entertaining afternoon. I hope Valley Performing Arts can bring better quality shows to Fresno in the future. I might be hard pressed to attend another of their presentations though.
Meanwhile, reader Angelica Cano is irked that smaller movies don’t stay long in Fresno:
I was really looking forward to seeing the movie “Blue Valentine” and last weekend I noticed it was finally showing in Fresno. This weekend, when I checked the times, it had disappeared. Any idea why theatres are removing Oscar-nominated movies like “Blue Valentine” or only showing them at night like “The Fighter?” Is it all due to Bieber fever?
My response: This is one of the most common movie questions I get from Fresno readers, and to answer it I’ll once again put on my tough-love hat: If you want to see these kinds of smaller titles, you have to put some effort into it.
If you’re really intent on seeing a certain film, you can’t leisurely wait a couple of weekends to do so. Sure, it might still be playing, but it also might be gone. The local theater chains are very matter-of-fact when it comes to deciding what comes and what goes each week, and if a film performs poorly its opening weekend, chances are it will be out of here the next. There’s also the matter of how many prints were made by the studio; if it’s a small-budget film, chances are there are limited prints, and if a film isn’t performing well in Fresno, it gets shipped somewhere else.
Yes, you might say, but one of the advantages of a mainstream release is the luxury of being able to wait weeks or even months and see it at your convenience. Well, sorry. This is life in a medium-sized market such as Fresno. (Actually, there are only a handful of cities in the country where smaller films merrily run for long stretches.) Think of it this way: When Fresno Filmworks brings in a film, it’s only for two screenings on one evening. When a smaller film gets a commercial run in Fresno, it’s probably going to be playing 35-40 times over a 7-day span. That’s practically an extravaganza!