Ten things I learned Thursday night in Shrek’s dressing room at the Saroyan Theatre an hour and a half before performance:
1. It is not easy for Shrek (played in the national tour by Perry Sook) to talk to visitors when his lips are being painted.
2. It doesn’t matter the month: Red lipstick and green makeup applied to the same face makes me think of Christmas.
3. When Sook as Shrek can speak, he’s quite the amiable ogre. He tells his visitors (who consist of the four winners of The Bee’s “Shrek” contest — Mona Pineiro and Jenny, Robin and Max Gomez, all of Fresno — plus me and Bee photographer Mark Crosse) that the prosthetic he wears on his head weighs 7 pounds.
The Bee didn’t plan it this way, but it certainly made for interesting timing. The Fresno Philharmonic’s first subscription concerts in the new Shaghoian Hall took place the same weekend that The Bee’s George Hostetter filled us in on the shaky finances of the city’s Convention Center.
That’s because the center includes the Saroyan Theatre, in which the Fresno Philharmonic used to perform exclusively. For its three performances of the Mozart Requiem this past weekend, the orchestra turned to the smaller Shaghoian on the campus of Clovis North High School. (The orchestra did perform previously in the hall in 2010 in a non-subscription concert.)
Saturday’s one-night only pops event, which featured songs by a trio of actors portraying Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr., was marred by significant sound problems in the first half. The singers were amplified, of course, and the orchestra was miked as well. The patter between the three actors could be heard well enough, but the singing voice of the actor playing Sinatra was swallowed whenever the orchestra got loud and brassy.
The other two actors fared a little better when backed by the orchestra, but they still sounded tinny and subdued from my seat in row “L” of the orchestra, as if they were singing out of a big hole. At intermission, people sitting in the loge and balcony were complaining that they couldn’t hear the performers at all.
The sound did improve significantly in the second half of the show, at least from where I was sitting, but that’s almost more disturbing than the sound issues in the first place, because it means that adjustments could have been made to improve the experience for the audience before the concert began. Using the first half of a show as an extended sound check is not acceptable.
But sound wasn’t the only issue. While the orchestra sounded great — especially when conductor Theodore Kuchar had the chance to crank up the big band sound — the three actors did a poor job of establishing a “Rat Pack” presence and rapport. While all are Broadway veterans and have impressive performance credentials, the trio failed to connect.
The news that my son* has been waiting for: “Yo Gabba Gabba” is coming back to Fresno. The trippy toddler show — often referred to as hipster “Sesame Street” — is doing a live show at Saroyan Theatre on March 7. It’s previously played Save Mart Center twice. The live show features the main “Yo Gabba Gabba” characters, plus hip-hop legend Biz Markie, who does a beat-boxing segment with the Gabba gang. Tickets go on sale Dec. 7, but prices haven’t been announced yet.
Lewis Black plays Saroyan Theatre on Feb. 7 as part of his “The Rant is Due” tour. Black is a Grammy winner, who used to be a regular on “The Daily Show” and now performs more than 200 dates a year, selling-out shows in places such as Las Vegas, Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center and Broadway. Tickets are on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, costing $39.50 and $49.50. Get ‘em at the Fresno Convention Center box office or through Ticketmaster. If you’re wondering: Black last appeared in the area in 2009, for a Table Mountain Casino show.
Jeff Dunham, a popular ventriloquist and stand-up comedian, is back at Save Mart Center, which is a regular stop for him. He’s starting his new “Disorderly Conduct” tour this month and it stops in Fresno on March 24. Tickets cost $46.50. They go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday. They’ll be available at the Save Mart Center box office or through Ticketmaster. Dunham played Table Mountain in May and was at Save Mart Center last in January of 2011.
UPDATE: Congrats to our winners, Christine and R. Henderson. Check your e-mail!
ORIGINAL POST: The Fresno Philharmonic opens its 59th season this weekend with a special concert featuring Kelley O’Connor. O’Connor is a local girl who still lives here, but is also a world-traveling opera singer who has won a Grammy.
In an entertainment world built upon a constantly shifting terrain of pop culture, it takes a lot for a mezzo-soprano to be noticed. That’s the case no matter how effusive her reviews or how shiny her 2007 Grammy Award, which she won for a recording of the world premiere of contemporary composer Osvaldo Golijov’s opera, “Ainadamar.”
“Actually I think I am very incognito in Fresno,” says O’Connor.
Well, Beehive readers, we’ve got a chance for you to enjoy her Philharmonic performance for free. We’ve got two pair of tickets to the 8 p.m. Saturday show at Saroyan Theatre. (there’s another at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, btw). Ticket info here.
For a chance at our free tickets, leave a comment below. Deadline to enter is noon on Friday. Winners will be notified via e-mail, so please leave a real address and PLEASE check it. You’re ineligible if you’ve won something from us in the past 30 days. Complete rules below.
As is customary with the series, there are few options that aren’t exactly theater in the traditional sense: “Lord of the Dance,” popular Beatles tribute band Rain and an evening with author/humorist David Sedaris of NPR fame. These are in addition to a July concert with Yanni that’s been on the books for months now.
So, Broadway in Fresno fans, how do you rate this lineup?
ORIGINAL POST: If you didn’t grab the Joe Bonamassa tickets at Beehive Birthday 7 the other night, then here’s some good news for ya: We’ve got another pair we’re giving to a lucky Beehive reader.
Bonamassa — a guitar titan in the blues/rock world — plays Saroyan Theatre on Thursday night. Tickets cost $52-$82. Or you can leave a comment below telling us your favorite guitar player and you’ll get entered in our drawing.
Deadline to enter is 4 p.m. Tuesday. A winner will be chosen at random and notified via e-mail, so please leave a real address and please check it. We reserve the right to pick another winner if we don’t hear back from you. You’re ineligible if you’ve won something from us in the past 30 days. No multiple entries allowed. Complete rules after the jump.
Shaq’s All-Star Comedy Jam — a comedy tour organized by former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal — is coming to Fresno’s Saroyan Theatre on May 25. Specific comedians haven’t yet been announced, but tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, costing $39.75-$63.75.
In terms of the pedigree of the national tour — and the fact that the show is still playing on Broadway — Monday night’s opening of “Rock of Ages” is the biggest title in the 2011-12 season of Broadway in Fresno. This brash, good-natured homage to the metal rock bands of the ’80s is structured as a “jukebox” musical — one in which a group of famous songs is strung together in a light-hearted and loose storyline. (Think “Mamma Mia.”)
One thing exciting about this tour is that it’s been playing big cities (such as Los Angeles and Chicago) along with the medium-size cities with which Fresno usually shares such engagements. Add to that the fact that “Rock of Ages” is still playing on Broadway, and this is a hot ticket.
On-the-rise pop singer Ryan Beattywon The Beehive’s ValleyWho game, knocking off notables such as Pat Hill, Chris Colfer and William Saroyan along the way. I met with him Sunday to give him his award. But Ryan, 16, had something he wanted to say about the award and about ValleyWho.
The pair are doing a string of stand-up dates around California this week, and Fresno gets one of them. Tickets for the show are on sale now through Ticketmaster, costing $45 and $55.
If you’d rather pay $0, though, then enter right here for a chance at free tickets. We’ve got TWO pairs of tickets that we’re giving away to two lucky winners. To enter, just leave a comment below telling us what your favorite TV show/movie is that stars either Romano or James.
Deadline to enter is 4 p.m. Tuesday. We’ll draw our winners at random and notify them via e-mail. So please leave a real e-mail address and please check it. You’re ineligible if you’ve won something from us in the past 30 days. No multiple entries allowed. Complete rules below.
I’ve seen the movie “Young Frankenstein” a couple of times. I thought it was funny, and I remember laughing a lot. But I don’t have the jokes memorized. I can’t recite Gene Wilder’s lines. On road trips I don’t break into renditions of the Monster singing “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
The singers in this production are good, the acting peppy, the timing impeccable, the production values commensurate with some of the higher-budget national tours that have come through town. Yes, I chuckled here and there throughout. And there were several bits that produced hearty laughter on my part, including an over-the-top “Ritz” number and a very amusing rendition of the song “Deep Love” by the Madeline Kahn-inspired character. Plus I got a kick out of some of the audience members around me who were obviously anticipating famous jokes and riffs from the movie.
But outright hilarity? Not so much. This isn’t a show like “The Producers,” which stood on its own without the film version as a prerequisite. And it isn’t as successful as the much funnier “Spamalot,” another musical paying homage to a beloved comic film that requires a familiarity with the source material. There is a flatness to the “Young Frankenstein” experience, a feeling of obligation, as if the narrative is ticking off a series of boxes rather than catapulting us through a comic romp.
Comedians Ray Romano (aka the “Everybody Loves Raymond” guy) and Kevin James (aka Mr. “King of Queens”) are bringing a one-two punch of comedy to Fresno’s Saroyan Theatre on March 21.
The event was just announced about an hour ago and tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday. Talk about a quick turnaround. Hope you fans of ex-CBS TV stars are flush with cash right now.
Tickets cost $45 and $55 with a $5 price hike the day of the show. You can get tickets from Ticketmaster — online at ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000 — or at the Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center box office.
1. SCORE A COMEDY KO
Saroyan Theatre has back-to-back comedy shows with two big headliners — Jerry Seinfeld tonight and Gabriel Iglesias on Saturday. I had some fun in today’s Bee doing the boxing-themed comparison of the two below. Text here. [Tickets]
You can get tickets at Ticketmaster for $43 … or you can score pair right here, for free. Just leave a comment below telling us why you love Iglesias. Deadline to enter is 9 a.m. Friday.
Our winner will be chosen at random and notified by e-mail, so please leave a valid address and please check it. You’re ineligible if you’ve won something from us in the past 30 days. Complete rules below.
Outspoken comedian, political commentator and TV host Bill Maher brings his act to Fresno’s Saroyan Theatre on Sunday. Read my interview with Maher in which he talks about his comedy background and why he enjoys playing in places like Fresno, which aren’t always friendly to his political views.
Maher’s a divisive figure, no doubt. You couldn’t give some folks tickets to see him. If you’re one of those folks, then just skip over this post because we are, in fact, giving away tickets.
Not a Maher hater? Just leave a comment below telling us why you’d like to go and you’ll be in the running. Deadline to enter is 3 p.m. Friday. We’ll pick a winner at random and notify him/her via e-mail, so please leave a real address and please check it. No repeat entries please. You’re ineligible if you’ve won something from us in the past 30 days. Full rules below.
Note: I’m off work today, so I’m not doing a Post No Bills today. Enjoy these weekend options. Post No Bills will return next week. Last week’s edition still has plenty of options for this weekend, if you need ‘em.
1. HAVE A BIG LAUGH
Good weekend for comedy ahead of us. Daniel Tosh, of “Tosh.0″ fame, is doing two shows tonight at Saroyan Theatre. The first show is sold out, but the 10 p.m. show still has tickets available. If you’re looking for something with a local angle: Darren Carter, the most famous comedian to come outta Fresno, returns for a homecoming gig at Tower Theatre on Saturday. [Tix / Tix]
The legendary Bill Cosby is the next big comedy name coming to Fresno’s Saroyan Theatre. He’ll be here Feb. 12, 2012.
Tickets to see The ‘Cos cost $49.50, $59.50 and $78. They go on sale at 10 a.m. Aug. 18. But if you want good seats, you can get in on the Internet pre-sale that begins 10 a.m. Aug. 16. The password is “Cosby.”
Tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster or at the Fresno Convention Center box office.
Cosby joins Daniel Tosh, The Wayans Brothers, Jo Koy and Bill Maher as big comedy names who have upcoming dates at Saroyan Theatre. Tickets and info for any of those right here.
IN OTHER COMEDY NEWS: Paula Poundstone is also coming back to Fresno. She’s got a Jan. 27 date at Tower Theatre scheduled. Tickets cost $30 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Sept. 9.
Tickets cost $32 and are set to go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday. You can go here to buy them. But promoter Icon Concerts wants a few lucky Beehive readers to win tickets before they even go on sale.
We have two pair of tickets to give away. To get entered in the contest just leave a comment below. Deadline to enter is 9:59 a.m. Friday. Two winners will be chosen at random and notified via e-mail, so please leave a real e-mail address and please check it. You’re ineligible if you’ve won a prize from us in the past 30 days. Multiple entries won’t be counted. Full rules below.
Saroyan Theatre just announced a comedy date with the Wayan Bros. — Marlon and Shawn, who will share the stage on Aug. 28. Tickets go on sale real quick too, at 10 a.m. on Friday. They cost $38.50. Marlon and Shawn are best known from films such as the “Scary Movie” franchise, “White Chicks” and “Little Man.” They also had their own sitcom, “The Wayans Bros.”
Jo Koy — a regular on “Chelsea Lately” — returns to Saroyan Theatre on Nov. 6. He played there May 2010 as well. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Aug. 5, costing $32. Keep an eye on the site next week for a ticket giveaway.
Tower Theatre has confirmed a Dec. 8 date with Adam Carolla, who sold out the theater out last year around the same time. No ticket info has been announced yet, but keep an eye out for that, Ace fans.
One last shout-out: Fresno-bred comic Darren Carter comes home on Aug. 20 to headline Tower Theatre. He’s co-headlined the theater before, played in our clubs too — and now comes back to headline the theatre. Good job, local boy. Tickets are on sale now for $19.50 and $24.50.
UPDATE: Congrats to our winners — RayDad, Marty and Jeff Stewart. Thanks for playing, everyone.
ORIGINAL POST: Yet another cool concert giveaway: We’ve got three pair of tickets to see Sheryl Crow perform Wednesday night at Saroyan Theatre.
You can buy tickets via Ticketmaster for $39, $49 and $79 — or you can enter our contest and cross your fingers. You don’t even have to figure out a Degrees of Fresno answer or anything.
To get into the drawing, just leave a comment below telling us your favorite Sheryl Crow song and why. Deadline to enter is 5 p.m. Tuesday. Winners will be chosen at random and notified via e-mail, so please leave a real e-mail address and please check it. You’re ineligible if you’ve won a prize from us in the past 30 days. Multiple entries won’t be counted. See the full rules below.