Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Donald’s weekend picks

Fresno State music professors Andreas Werz, Limor Toren-Immerman and Thomas Loewenheim make up the new Fresno State Trio chamber group. They perform 8 p.m. Friday at the Fresno State Concert Hall as part of the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series. Here’s my story in Friday’s 7 section. (Bee photo by Eric Paul Zamora.) [Details]

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Donald’s weekend picks

The Orpheus chamber ensemble had originally planned a Mother’s Day finale to its season, but members decided to turn the slot on the schedule over to Sharon Rogers, a junior Fresno State vocal major, in a program titled “Presenting Sharon Rogers: An Afternoon of Arias and Songs.” The performance is a benefit for the singer, who is raising money to attend a special summer program at the California Opera Academy in San Francisco. She performs 5 p.m. Sunday. [Details]

Sharon Rogers.JPG

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Donald’s weekend picks

Besides attending our rescheduled Beehive Birthday Party, of course …

The artist is considered one of the founders of the social serigraphy movement in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-1960s. Arte Américas honors him in a new exhibition titled “Voice for the Voiceless” featuring silkscreen, charcoal and pastel works addressing the themes of injustice, empowerment and international struggle. Montaya, who grew up in the Valley, will be at Arte 2-5 p.m. Saturday for an artist’s reception and “homecoming celebration.”


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Notes from the arts beat


Here’s a compilation of interesting items that have recently clumped up on my desk:


The Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities 2009-2010 Lecture Series features Distinguished Alumna Emily Kuroda, a 1977 theatre arts graduate. She’ll speak at 2 p.m. Thursday at Studio A in the Speech Arts Building. From her bio:

Kuroda completed seven years as Mrs. Kim in Warner Brothers’ GILMORE GIRLS. She was also a series regular on UNDER ONE ROOF with Flavor Flav. Other television credits include GREY’S ANATOMY, SIX FEET UNDER, KING OF QUEENS, CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, THE PRACTICE, GENERAL HOSPITAL, PORT CHARLES, ER, THE DIVISION, THE AGENCY, PRESIDIO MED and ARLISS. Feature films include HOTEL FOR DOGS, THE SENSI, SHOP GIRL, MINORITY REPORT, STRANGER INSIDE, TWO DAYS IN THE VALLEY, DAD, BROKEN WORDS, ABOUT LOVE (Emmy nominated), WORTH WINNING and the soon to be released PEEP WORLD and AUSSIE AND TED with Dean Cain.

She has performed in numerous plays and is the recipient of five Dramalogue Awards.

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THEATER REVIEW: ‘Always … Patsy Cline’


I’m “Crazy” for actress Dianne Kocher, who plays one-half of a talented duo in Playhouse Merced’s charming ‘Always … Patsy Kline.” Kocher’s character, a plucky narrator named Louise Seger, tells the story in Ted Swindley’s play of how her life changed when she met the singer for a brief time several years before Cline’s untimely death in an airplane crash. Thanks to Kocher’s good-ol’-gal handle on the role, the show becomes a folksy, compelling tale that’s much more than just a standard celebrity musical revue.

Nancy O’Bryan, who plays the famed singer, doesn’t disappoint in the vocals department, either. O’Bryan belts out one standard after another with considerable aplomb. I’m not a Cline scholar by any means, but from what I’ve heard of her tunes, O’Bryan nails many of her mannerisms. I especially like her low, scooped-out tones and the rich, earthy timbre to her voice, all of which seem to convey a sense of maturity — and sometimes sadness — far beyond her years.

A terrific six-piece band, conducted by Joel Scott Shade — all hail live music! — adds a lot to the experience.

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More on ‘Always … Patsy Cline’


Any hardcore “Crazy” fans out there? If so, you’ll want to get on up to Playhouse Merced for the return of its popular ‘Always … Patsy Cline,” which opens Friday for a three-weekend run. In Friday’s 7 section I talk with Nancy O’Bryan, who plays the singer, pictured at right. Here’s the full interview:

Question: How many times have you performed in “Always … Patsy Cline” at Playhouse Merced?

This will be the second time I have performed this show at the playhouse. The first was in June of 2003. But I have also performed this show in New Orleans and Pennsylvania.

Describe the format of the show.

This is a two woman show about the life of Patsy Cline. Louise Seager (played by Dianne Kocher) tells her story about the first time she heard Patsy Cline’s music, to the first time she met her and how they kept in touch after through letters. While Louise is remembering, Patsy Cline appears in different locations and times of her life singing the songs Louise remembers hearing. She is very spunky and full of life, making you laugh and cry throughout the show.

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Notes from the theater beat


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.”

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