StageWorks is bringing ‘Fun Home’ to Fresno

The company announces its 2018 season, which includes “The Fantasticks.” Plus: recaps from Good Company Players, Fresno City College and Reedley’s River City Theatre Company.

UPDATED: I’ve added the seasons for Children’s Musical Theaterworks and Visalia’s College of the Sequoias.

ORIGINAL POST: Stop the digital presses: StageWorks Fresno has snagged the rights to perform “Fun Home: The Musical.” The show was nominated for an impressive 12 Tony Awards in 2015 and won five, including best musical.

In “Fun Home,” composer Jeanine Tesori and writer-lyricist Lisa Kron transform the cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s popular graphic-novel memoir, subtitled “A Family Tragicomic,” into a spare and beautiful musical.

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National tour: “Fun Home” continues on the road through the end of the year. A local production opens June 29 in Fresno. Photo / “Fun Home” tour

Bechdel’s adult self is narrator, looking back at herself as a 9-year-old navigating through childhood and as a 19-year-old college freshman embracing the fact she’s lesbian.

When I saw the New York production, I wrote:

Some shows grab you, hug you, squeeze you. Others play it cool, self-aware and all-knowing, almost daring you to join the club. “Fun Home,” a beguiling and intensely emotional experience, does neither. Instead it treats you as if you’re so much part of a familiar landscape that it forgets you’re there.

To go from the toast of Broadway in 2015 to a local Fresno production in 2018 is exciting, says Joel C. Abels, artistic director of StageWorks,

“Getting the rights so soon is a bit of a coup,” he says. “The show is still out on tour with dates through the end of the year so we feel very fortunate to have been given the green light.”

Also important to Abels was the addition of a woman playwright to the StageWorks season.

“Fun Home” will run June 29-July 15 at the Dan Pessano Theatre.

Three other musicals will complete the 2018 StageWorks season:

• “The Fantasticks,” April 6-22 at the Fresno Art Museum’s Bonner Auditorium. This 1960 surprise hit became the world’s longest running musical.

• “Urinetown,” July 20-Aug. 5 at the Pessano Theatre. A sendup of greed, love, revolution and the privilege to pee.

• “The Last Five Years,” Sept. 7-16 at the Bonner Auditorium. This two-person Jason Robert Brown musical will be performed by two StageWorks veterans: Taylor and Daniel Abels Rodriguez.


While we’re on the subject of season announcements, I want to play catch-up here for a moment and throw together everything I know about upcoming schedules. If you have a theater company and announced a season in the past three or four months (and I missed you), drop me a line and I’ll update. (I’ve already given you Fresno State’s 2017-18 season.)


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Fresno City College

Another big title for musical-theater fans: Director Charles Erven is bringing “American Idiot” to the Fresno City College Theatre. The show runs Oct. 6-14. Book and lyrics are by Billie Joe Armstrong, book is by Michael Mayer, music and lyrics by Green Day.

Here’s a description:

The two-time Tony Award-winning hit musical Green Day’s American Idiot, based on the Grammy Award-winning multi-platinum album, boldly takes the American musical where it’s never gone before. This high-octane show includes every song from Green Day’s album, American Idiot, as well as several songs from its follow-up release, 21st Century Breakdown.

The rest of the City College season:

Janine Christl directs “Silent Sky,” by Lauren Gunderson, Nov. 10-18 in the Studio Theatre. A real hidden figure in America’s scientific world, Henrietta Leavitt worked alongside other female “computers” in the early 20th century at Harvard Observatory.

Charles Erven directs “The Whale,” by Samuel D. Hunter, March 2-10, 2018, in the mainstage theater. On the outskirts of Mormon Country, Idaho, a 600-pound recluse hides away in his apartment and slowly eats himself to death. Desperate to reconnect with his long-estranged daughter, he reaches out to her, only to find a viciously sharp-tongued and wildly unhappy teen.

Note: Auditions are scheduled for “American Idiot” and “Silent Sky” for Aug. 21 and 22. For information about “American Idiot,” contact Erven at chuck.erven@fresnocitycollege.edu or 442-4600 x8478. For information about “Silent Sky,” contact Christl at Janine.christl@fresnocitycollege.edu or 442-4600 x8457.


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Good Company Players at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater

“Annie:” A scrappy orphan faces down the Depression, the richest man in America, a trio of con artists, and even President Roosevelt in this upbeat family-friendly musical. Runs Jan. 18-March 18, 2018. Auditions Sept. 2, 2017.

“Hairspray:” You can’t stop the beat in this big, bold musical about an irrepressible teenager’s dream of dancing her way to stardom. Runs March 22-May 20, 2018. Auditions Jan. 6, 2018.

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s joyful retelling of the story of Joseph, his doting father, his eleven jealous brothers, and his adventures in Egypt. Runs May 24-July 15, 2018. Auditions Jan. 6, 2018.

“Into the Woods”: This brilliant mash-up of famous fairytales weaves a spell all its own with a magical score by Stephen Sondheim and mesmerizing book by James Lapine. Runs July 19-Sept. 16, 2018. Auditions April 28, 2018.

“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”: Seven uncouth brothers decide to kidnap brides from the nearby town, and wind up snowed in with seven seriously miffed young ladies. As the backwoods boys lose their hearts and are rebuffed, they realize they have a lot to learn about “goin’ courtin’”. Runs Sept. 20-Nov. 11, 2018. Auditions April 28, 2018.

“Footloose”: The iconic movie explodes to life in this exhilarating story about a pent-up young rebel who sets a repressive small town on its ear with his love of music, dancing, and freedom. Runs Nov. 15, 2018-Jan. 13, 2019. Auditions Sept. 8, 2018.


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Good Company Players at 2nd Space Theatre

“Sense and Sensibility”: Two sisters cope with poverty, passion, and prattle in this critically acclaimed adaptation of Jane Austen’s witty and romantic tale of human foibles. Runs Jan. 4-Feb. 25, 2018. Auditions Aug. 26, 2017.

“The Star-Spangled Girl”: Revisit the 60’s with Neil Simon’s comedy about a not-so-great Olympic swimmer floundering under waves of adoration showered on her by a smitten neighbor. Runs March 1-April 22, 2018. Auditions Dec. 9, 2017.

“The Heiress”: Love, betrayal, and retribution unfold as a wealthy spinster becomes engaged to the man of her dreams. Runs April 26-June 17, 2018. Auditions Dec. 9, 2017.

“Proof”: A gripping portrayal of a brilliant math professor and his equally brilliant daughter as they grapple with genius that borders on mental illness. Runs June 21-Aug. 12, 2018. Auditions April 14, 2018.

“Steel Magnolias”: Get a hilarious and heartrending glimpse into the lives of Truvy’s Beauty Salon regulars in Chinquapin, Louisiana. Runs Aug. 16-Oct. 14, 2018. Auditions April 14, 2018

“Good Company for Christmas”: A delightful smorgasbord of holiday cheer, old and new. A GCP original. Runs Nov. 1-Dec. 23, 2018. Auditions Aug. 25, 2018.


River City Theatre Company

Here’s the announced 2018 season. A highlight is the local premiere of “Memphis: The Musical” in July 2018, a title that I’m sure will generate a lot of interest:

reedley season


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Children’s Musical Theaterworks

LEGALLY BLONDE – April 13 to 22, 2018 (ages TBA)

Andrew Lloyd Weber’s CATS – July 13 to 22, 2018 (ages 14-20)

Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, JR. – August 3 to 12, 2018 (ages 6-13)

ELF, Jr. – December 7 to 16, 2018 (ages TBA)


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College of the Sequoias

The 2017-18 College of the Sequoias season in Visalia is impressive. It includes what I think are two local premieres: “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and “Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical.” Plus it includes a production of “The Crucible” directed by Chris Mangels that sounds very interesting. Mangels tells me:

I am not changing any dialogue, but I am doing “Crucible” in a contained space on stage (tennis court seating) that neither the actors nor the audience will leave until intermission. And it will look like it’s taking place in 1953… sort of a Revolutionary Road vibe with Miller’s original dialogue. I hope to draw some parallels to history repeating itself by talking about one witch hunt while showing another.

Another not-to-miss title: a fully staged production of Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal,” which kicks off the season as a fundraiser. In the past, COS has done faculty readings and cabarets as fundraisers, but this is a full production featuring faculty (David Rasner and Mangels) and a guest artist (Diane Fidalgo). It’s coming up soon: Sept. 8-9.


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Author: Donald Munro

Covering the arts in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond.

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