StageWorks is bringing ‘Fun Home’ to Fresno

The company announces its 2018 season, which includes “The Fantasticks.” Plus: recaps from CURTAIN 5 TheatreGROUP, Shine! Theatre, the Selma Arts Center, College of the Sequoias, Children’s Musical Theaterworks, Good Company Players, Fresno City College, Fresno State and Reedley’s River City Theatre Company.

UPDATE 6 (Sept. 27): The CURTAIN 5 TheatreGROUP cancelled its production of “Frida” at the Fresno Art Museum.

UPDATE 5 (Sept. 12): I’ve added the Fresno State theater season, which originally had its own post in May, into this roundup.

UPDATE 4 (Sept. 11): I’ve added the remainder of the 2017 season for CURTAIN 5 TheatreGROUP.

UPDATE 3 (Sept. 4): I’ve added the 2017-18 season for Shine! Theatre.

UPDATE 2 (Aug. 28): I’ve added the 2018 season for the Selma Arts Center.

UPDATE 1 (Aug. 13): 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 State

You can read my original post about Fresno State’s new theater faculty member here.

Sept. 29-Oct. 7: “A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations),” by Sam Shepard. Directed by J. Daniel Herring.

Oct. 27-Nov. 4: “Native Son,” by Nambi E. Kelley, based on the Richard Wright novel. Directed by Thomas-Whit Ellis.

Dec. 1-9: “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” by William Shakespeare. Directed by Brad Myers.

Feb. 16-24: Contemporary Dance Ensemble, Kenneth Balint, artistic director.

March 16-24: Octavio Solis’ “Lydia,” by Octavio Solis. Directed by Gina Sandí-Díaz.

May 4-12: “A Streetcar Named Desire,” by Tennessee Williams. Directed by Kathleen McKinley.


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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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Selma Arts Center

If you’re like me, you might have seen some of the titles in the Selma Arts Center’s newly announced 2018 season floating around social media, but I wasn’t sure how to piece them all together. Now I’ve got them all in one place.

Says company spokesman Juan L. Guzman of the season:

We looked to build a season that had a little something for everyone, and we feel as if this is our strongest season to date. We are thrilled to be presenting more area premiers and dramas, including our first Shakespeare production, as well as classic, family favorites, and we hope to see all of our patrons—and new faces—throughout the year.

A “Spring Awakening” directed by Dominic Grijalva will be a must-see, for sure. “Real Women Have Curves” is a great title for this area. As for “Bring It On,” well, I’m excited but a little tense. You can say that Selma has certainly taken on an immense challenge. I can’t think of a harder Broadway musical to pull off on a smaller scale. But I love the music for the show and am excited to see it in person.

Here’s the complete lineup of six productions, including corrected dates for “Spring Awakening.”

SPRING AWAKENING: this brilliant rock musical is the searing story of youth revolt and self-discovery that follows a group of adolescents with only each other for guidance. Together, they travel the fraught and rocky path of adolescence, discovering their minds, their bodies, and themselves along the way. Directed by Dominic Grijalva, this production will run from January 26-February 10, 2018.

DISNEY’S THE LITTLE MERMAID: Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most cherished stories and one of the most beloved Disney films of our time, this is the tale of Ariel, a beautiful young mermaid who longs to leave the magical kingdom under the sea to be part of our world. Watch this family favorite come to life on stage! Directed by Nicolette C. Andersen and Adam Chavez, this production will run from May 4-May 19, 2018.

BRING IT ON, THE MUSICAL: When cheer-queen Campbell has to transfer high schools because of unexpected redistricting, she’s forced to spend her senior year at the neighboring hard-knock Jackson High. In spite of it all, Campbell befriends that dance crew to form a powerhouse squad ready for the National Championships. Bitingly relevant, sassy, and inspired by the hit film of the same name, BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL is a high flying journey of friendship, jealousy, betrayal and forgiveness. Directed by Michael Flores, this production will run from July 19-July 28, 2018.

REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES: This is the outrageously funny story of five full-figured Mexican-American women working in a tiny sewing factory in East L.A. As they race to meet nearly impossible production deadlines, these women offer glimpses into their lives as mothers and daughters, immigrants and dreamers. Ana, the youngest of the group, dreams of getting out of the barrio, going off to college, and becoming a famous writer but cultural ties keep holding her back. A microcosm of the Latina experience, this play celebrates the incredible bond that happens when women work together. Directed by Juan Luis Guzman, this production will run from September 7-September 16, 2018.

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET: A tale of love, revenge, and murder set against the backdrop of 19th century London, this show tells the infamous story of an exiled barber who returns to his home to seek vengeance against the lecherous judge who framed him and tore his family apart. Both dark and witty, this tasty and thrilling production is a bloody delight. Directed by Joseph Ham, this production will run from October 5-October 20, 2018.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM: The course of true love never runs smoothly. But what happens when a dream come true becomes an absolute nightmare? In this frolicking, fun, and irreverent comedy by William Shakespeare, worlds collide and magical forces take hold in the midsummer night. Directed by Casey Ballard, this production runs from November 8-November 17, 2018.


Shine! Theatre

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The Shine! Theatre company, which targets children and families, kicks off its 2017-18 season with the musical “The Prince of Teeth,” another collaboration with Theater Seoul of South Korea. The production, which opens Oct. 18 for a two-performance run, will be the first for the company at the Tower Theatre. A description of the show:

This dynamic musical teaches children the importance of dental hygiene with vibrant choreography, bright costumes, and exciting musical numbers! Prince David must rescue the beautiful Princess from an evil monster. All goes well, but once she is rescued, the Princess rejects David’s marriage proposal because of his ugly teeth! She takes Prince David into his own mouth, but she is kidnapped by his cavities! Prince David must learn how to care for his teeth, and only then will he get his love back. Packed with energy and humour, The Prince of Teeth is an exciting, educational show for children of all nationalities and is suitable for kids ages 3+.

Here’s the rest of the season:

“Miracle on 34th Street,” an original musical adaptation. Opens Nov. 30, Tower Theatre.

“Tir na nOg,” an offering in the 2018 Rogue Festival.

“Renegade: Fresno Youth Fringe Fest,” a performance festival in the tradition and style of the Rogue by showcasing the talents of young performers, both individuals and groups. March 15-18, Fresno Music Academy & Arts.

“Charlotte’s Web.” Opens April 20, Fresno Music Academy & Arts.

“We Are Monsters,” an original musical by Fresno native Denver Casado. Scheduled for June at the Tower Theatre.


CURTAIN 5 TheatreGROUP

curtainArtistic director Jerry Palladino shares the remainder of the 2017 season:

HOLD THIS STONE (Nov. 9-10, Fresno Soap Co.): The play is by Nikiko Masumoto and Brynn Saito, directed by Nikiko, and performed by the writers. HOLD THIS STONE is an original performance art drama with poetry and dialogue. It’s a showcase in which our actors, both fourth generation Japanese Americans, re-imagine their family histories through the words of Japanese American men, women and children interred in U.S. concentration camps during WW!!. A major percentage of the ticket sales will benefit the Yonsei Memory Project supported by a grant from the Fresno Arts Council. Palladino saw Nikiko’s solo performance piece last year at Fresno State, and I encouraged her to expand on a new work to be produced by CURTAIN 5. She agreed.

JUST A BOOK CLUB (Dec. 1-2 and 8-9, Fresno Soap Co.): A new drama by Fresno Pacific University student Jesse Parr. The play will be directed by Marciella Puckett, and will be a coproduction with Fresno Soap Co. a CURTAIN 5 TheatreGROUP-Fresno Soap Co. Stage co-production. Parr’s first drama, “First Try,” opened the 2017 Season and played to capacity audiences.


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Author: Donald Munro

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

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