In theater, there’s drama all the time. Especially behind the scenes. CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre, which is hard at work preparing for the July 21 opening of “Hello, Dolly!,” had to do some serious scrambling this week when the actress playing the pivotal role of Dolly Levi dropped out of the show because of a death in the family.
To the rescue is Clytee Ramsey, a longtime Valley theater veteran who retired to Cayucos. She played the title role in “Hello, Dolly!” when Good Company Players mounted the production in 1983, 1996 and 2005. (The photo at right is from a 2001 production of “Gypsy” at GCP with Ramsey; I inexplicably could not find a photo of Ramsey’s trademark performance in our archives. Go figure.)
As her latest revival opened in ’05, the-then 60-year-old Ramsey told me in an interview: “I think this is the last time. ‘ll be too old when it comes around again.”
1. A TWIST ON ‘BEAUTY’
Leave it to director Joel Abels to come up with a fresh take on the oft-seen “Beauty and the Beast.” His new StageWorks Fresno show, which features a youth cast up to age 16, uses small “object” or tabletop puppets designed by Matthew McGee, pictured below. A tip: Get tickets early. This is a small venue. Read about the show in today’s 7 cover story.
1. GO SEE THE CIRCUS Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey makes its annual stop at Selland Arena. You have seven chances to see The Greatest Show on Earth — one tonight, and three shows on both Saturday and Sunday. [Tickets]
Saturday night were the finals of the second annual Central Valley Comedy Competition, held at the lovely ApCal Winery in Madera (technically, but it’s only one exit north of Herndon, so it’s not as far as you might think, Fresnans).
I was one of the judges — thanks to organizer Andre Covington for having me — tasked with picking the best comic out of the six finalists. The six: locals Chris Cruz, Johnny Osburn and Michelle Rowe, as well as out-of-towners Insane Wayne, T.J Young and Matthew Nouriel.
Here’s a taste of each comic, starting with winner Insane Wayne (from Stockton) — who also recently won the Bay Area Black Comedy Competition. The rest of the videos are below, in the order the comics finished.
Warning: Each video is littered with all sorts of foul language, so they’re quite NSFW.
Most of the interviews I do are done on a strict schedule so there’s usually only enough time to hit the serious talking points. I did have enough time with Oscar-nominee David Strathairn to get around to a few superficial questions.
At one point, we end up talking about facial hair. In the original pilot I saw for the new Syfy channel series “Alphas,” Strathairn sports a salt-and-pepper beard. He shows up for the interview without the beard and looks 20 years younger.
He says the beard will be gone when the show launches.
“I liked the idea of having the beard because you don’t see people on television with a lot of facial hair. Television is a clean environment. What I liked about this show was not only the eccentricities of the characters on the inside but also having some on the outside,” Strathairn says.
So why shave?
It was a simple decision. Strathairn shaved the beard off for another role and didn’t have time to grow it back before filming started on the cable TV show.
That’s something I’d never known with a shorter interview.
Here’s a pick for tonight’s ArtHop: the members show at Fig Tree Gallery (which, alas, has not updated its website yet for July as of this posting). These types of group shows are a great way to get a variety of styles of art in one place — and perhaps add another local artist to your favorites list.
Fig Tree member Juliana Harris’ delicate work from her recent pond series, pictured below, is on display.
Next door at Fresno’s other major cooperative gallery is “The Hot Show” at Gallery 25, another members exhibition. Pictured below is Jerrie Peters’ “Homage to Matisse.”
It’s ArtHop tonight, and usually that means most of the live music options are clustered downtown or in the Tower, but tonight you can also hit the north end for some quality live music.
Eureka Burger continues its weekly Thursday night concert series with the ska/rocksteady sounds of King Sugar, who start playing at 9 p.m. The good thing about this, and all the Eureka shows — there’s no cover. We know you like that.
Over at Yosemite Ranch you’ll find funk/reggae band DB & The Struggle. They’re prepping for a brief tour to the Pacific Northwest where they’ll be playing in Tacoma and Portland, so wish them safe travels tonight. Showtime is 9 p.m. There’s no cover here either.
“Big Brother,” 9 p.m. KGPE (Channel 47.1): This latest round of voyeurism TV will feature eight new contestants plus the return of notorious duos from past seasons.
As always, “Big Brother” will spy on a group of people living together in a house that has 52 cameras and 95 microphones to record their every move 24 hours a day. Players get voted out each week until one is left to take home the grand prize of $500,000.
UPDATE:There was a record number of commenters trying to win the tickets to see the advance screening. It’s a shame we cannot accommodate more fans but the seats are limited. Thank you for your interest and keep checking The Beehive for more movie screenings.
The commenters who get two seats to see the advance screening include: Sarah, Claude, ashleigh, Ashley, JA, Angelica, Paige, Flustered, Eric, bella, Sabrina, Lisa, Maggie, daniel, Adrienne, Corey, Taylor, Lisa, jeff, hailey, Josue, Ernie, Mike, Jeanette, Kaylee, Kelsey, Victor, Luis, Chuck, Sierra, Jennifer, Dwayne, Fonya, ajaxaxe, Y vette, Verne, Greg, Delma, Pakrat76, Chrissy, Jonathan, Chris, Salgado, estefania, Carl, Connor, Samantha, Eslie, Jim, Cristina, Wanda, Brock, John, Mary, Mark, Mark, Emily, Julian, Theresa, LSkillin, Janice, Donald, danielle, Crista, Christina, Helen, Frank, Chelsea, Grace and leia.
If you ever walk along Hollywood Boulevard and look at the 2,438 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, there will be some unfamiliar names. Some celebrities who were huge 75 years ago have lost their star power.
There are also plenty of recognizable celebrity names such as “Cars 2″ and “Joan of Arcadia” star Joe Mantegna. He got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in April.
He got a big surprise during the ceremonies.
Mantegna won a Tony Award in 1984 for best featured actor in a play for his performance in David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Glengarry Glen Ross.” The actor and playwright have been friends since that production. It was logical Mantegna would ask Mamet help him get his star.
“When he showed up, he had this big wooden box. He wouldn’t tell me what was in it,” Mantegna says.
Mamet finally opened the box to reveal a crowbar and joked that when he was asked by Mantegna to help him get a star, he thought they were going to have to steal one.
Jurzak, who now resides in the musical wonderland of New Orleans, was an original member of Viper City Brass Band before moving. In New Orleans, he plays with well-known brass band Bonerama.
Viper City Brass Band plays the brassy funk that originated New Orleans. The band features a number of well-traveled local musicians who also play in groups such as 40 Watt Hype, Los Hooligans and Let’s Go Bowling.
The show starts at 10 p.m. — it’s like the Pub Quiz afterparty — and is free to attend.
“Flipping Out,” 9 p.m. Bravo: Obsessive-compulsive house-flipper Jeff Lewis is back for another season of makeover madness and crazy outbursts.
This season, Lewis and the Jeff Lewis Design staff – Jenni Pulos, Zoila Chavez, Sarah Berkman, Jett Pink, Trace Lehnhoff – deal with a new group of clients while handling wild tangents. This year’s big moments include a facelift for Zoila, as a birthday present, and a Las Vegas bachelorette party.
Lewis also opens up about his personal life and that includes introducing his boyfriend, Gage Edward, to the team,
The fourth season of “Flipping Out” was Bravo’s highest rated averaging 1.49 million total viewers.
This just in: Rapper Snoop Dogg will perform Aug. 10 at Rainbow Ballroom — or perhaps, for one night only, they’ll call it the Rainbow-bow-wow-wow Ballroom. It’s an 18+ event. Tickets cost $37.50 and are on sale July 9. More info here.
Eve Myles and I talk about the possibilities of her and her family visiting Yosemite National Park while she’s living in Los Angeles. The Welsh actress has temporarily moved to the United States to film the new Starz series “Torchwood: Miracle Day.”
She’s a rather petite woman but after only a few moments chatting, it’s very clear she can at least act tougher than she looks.
“I had a little meeting with a coyote on the hills. It looked at my dog like it was a hamburger. And I thought there’s one way out. There’s one way out. I turned into Gwen Cooper,” Myles says.
For those of you not familiar with the BBC series ‘Torchwood.” Cooper’s the character Myles played, an investigator of the odd and unusual with which you don’t want to mess.
The coyote found out that fact and fiction are very different.
“I thought it’s me or you. The thing I picked up was a bamboo chute. So I could have tickled it or something. I don’t know. And, yeah, the coyote won. So I turned around and I ran off the mountain,” Myles says.
She did show a little bit of Gwen Cooper when she threw an orange at the beast.
Poetzsch, a German violinist, violist and composer, joined with Essaka, a German/Cameroonian dancer and choregrapher, in “Cicadas Whispering,” a concert-length piece featuring spoken poetry, movement and a mix of live and recorded music by Poetzsch. The piece in its various movements is meant to evoke the sounds and energy of Douala, the largest city in Cameroon. From the outset, it became clear that motion on the part of the musician as well as the dancer was integral to the piece. Poetzsch paced the stage with precise movements as he played, often executing slick 90-degree turns, and at other times scooting across stage in a rolling chair. Essaka was on stage with him at times performing her choreography. Both got solo turns in the spotlight as well.
I found the experience overwrought and tedious, especially after the hour mark. Poetzsch’s live virtuoso playing seemed swamped by his recorded tracks, giving the whole experience an unfortunate karaoke feel. Throw in the spoken words, and it started becoming a mush. (A persistent hiss in the John Wright Theatre’s sound system didn’t help.) His incessant choreographed movements seemed less an essential and organic part of the piece and more a gimmick meant to rein in multidisciplinary performance-art followers. (Or marching band fans.)
As for that trip to bustling Cameroon — it got lost in the midst of all the artistic fussiness. The heart of this piece just didn’t beat.
The setting: Sunday afternoon at the north Fresno Sweet Tomatoes. At 1:15 p.m., it’s the height of the post-church rush, and both serving lines, which face each other across the food area, are inching along as well-dressed men and women scarf up vast quantities of Won Ton Chicken Salad and Joan’s Broccoli Madness.
The scene: I’m in the line closest to the window, gingerly layering veggies on a bed of red-leaf lettuce, and look up to see a woman glaring in my general direction from the other line. She’s tall, in her 40s, I’d guess, wearing a floral-patterned blouse, Sarah Palin-style glasses and a prim burgundy bow in her hair. She’s there with a young woman who is at the moment shoveling bits of chopped egg from the bowl and then using her fingers to wipe the clumped-up excess from the tongs onto her plate. (Note to self: Avoid the chopped egg at Sweet Tomatoes.) Shooting a look that could make even the cucumbers duck for cover, the woman calls out: “You want to take it outside?”
The back story: Feeling as if I’ve just stumbled into something volatile, I notice the man and woman behind me in line acting a little shocked. It turns out that she — bored and no doubt hungry — had been vacantly staring at the goodies on the other side of the restaurant: soups, breads, pizza, pasta, etc. (All the stuff that really pack on the calories as places like this.) But Miss Burgundy Bow thought the woman next to me was staring at her. “What are you looking at?” Miss Bow had called out to her. “Um, nothing, I wasn’t even looking at you,” the woman next to me had replied. No matter. That’s when the invitation to take it outside occurred.
The personal connection: This same kind of thing happened to me once, years ago, at a restaurant in Bakersfield. I was eating lunch with a friend and telling an involved story, and I alternated my gaze — as a speaker in a conversation usually does — between looking at him and looking elsewhere in the room. Only problem was, a man sitting across from us thought I was staring at him, and he called me out right there in the restaurant, threatening to thrash me.
The finale: There isn’t one. My side of the line studiously avoids eye contact with the other. A nervous tension hangs in the air as we all inch toward the cash registers. I feel sorry for the woman behind me, who is so upset she’s shaking. The man with her says to me sadly, “We own a yogurt shop, and we have rude and abrasive customers come in all the time. All you can do is smile and move on.” Thankfully, Miss Bow gets seated far away from the rest of us.
The moral: If someone looks as if they’re staring at you and you’re enough of a hot head to pitch a fit, how about taking a glance behind? It’s not always about You.
Kate, aka the Duchess of Cambridge/Princess Catherine, is really putting on a fashion display while touring Canada. This princess really loves dresses. And I can’t blame her. She looks great wearing them. It’s interesting to look at how she swaps shoes and clutches and hairdos. I can’t wait to see what she wears when she arrives in California on Friday.
Patriotism is wishing — on the Fourth of July, mind you — that the sitting President of the United Stated DID get assassinated, as was falsely posted on the @FoxNewsPolitics Twitter account by hackers. Stay classy, Fresno!
“MasterChef,” 9 p.m. KMPH (Channel 26.1): The 13 remaining competitors have to create a vegetarian dish during a Mystery Box Challenge that will lead to the usual mix of hits and misses. Also, season one winner, Whitney Miller, stops by for a bite.
None of that’s the interesting part of the show. The best part is amateur chef Christine Corley. The Florida native went from emotional wreck to foul-mouthed psycho quicker than water can boil when she was selected as one of the bottom two contestants last week. It was such a meltdown that the knives need to be hid when she finally gets eliminated.
Please note the new start time. Fox made the decision late Friday to move the show to the later hour.
There are a number of recent live music developments that I need to recap. Most of these have been in my Sunday “Concert Watch” columns in The Bee (read those, please), but haven’t gotten a Beehive nod yet. Let’s correct that.
SHERYL CROW:Crow returns to the Valley on July 27 at Saroyan Theatre, which is a nice booking for the theater. Tickets on sale now.
FULTON 55:Fulton 55 has announced a number of new dates — including dates with country singer James Otto (July 20), rock band Parachute (Aug. 26) and soul singer Bilal (Aug. 31). Most tickets are on sale now, but tickets to see Bilal should be up this weekend.
MELVINS (LITE): Veteran rock band The Melvins bring their “lite” show to Audie’s Olympic on July 15. “Lite” means it’s the group’s two constant members Dale and Buzzo. Tickets are on sale now.