Soft rock radio stations in dental offices might call this “the most wonderful time of the year,” but there’s another truism when it comes the local cultural scene: It feels like the busiest time of the year. Especially the next two weekends, in which nearly every arts organization seems to schedule a concert or opening.
I’ve already told you about Fresno State’s production of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” Children’s Musical Theaterworks’ production of “Annie,” CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre’s production of “Plaid Tidings,” River City Theatre Company’s production of “Miracle on 34th Street” and the Fresno Philharmonic’s big holiday concert. (And don’t forget the final weekend for Selma Arts Center’s fine “Hunchback of Notre Dame.”) Now here are some more options for the weekend to consider:
‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’
“Christmas on Van Ness” used to be a Fresno Grand Opera specialty. Now that the company has folded, California Opera is continuing the annual tradition in collaboration with the First Congregational Church.
Edna Garabedian, artistic director of California Opera, directs a version of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” featuring some well-known professional names from the company, including Alix Jerenic as the Mother, Kennedi Ronlake as Amahl, Gabriel Manro as Melchoir, John Minagro as Balthazar, and Steve Wall as Kaspar.
There’s other holiday music on the program as well, including a powerful rendition of the piece “Emannuel.” (I was able to listen to a rehearsal video.)
Details: 2:30 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, First Congregational Church, 2131 N. Van Ness Ave., Fresno. Tickets are $25 general, $20 seniors, $50 family.
‘Just a Book Club’
CURTAIN 5 TheatreGROUP presents another original play at the Fresno Soap Co.: Jesse Parr’s “Just a Book Club.” Parr is a Fresno Pacific University drama student.
Here’s a rundown on the plot:
Four women attend their local book club hosted in the home of Kimberly Middleton, whose husband, Jeff, recently passed away. She is joined by close friends Penny and Julia, along with Lily, a newly married young woman attending for first time.
Penny and Julia are doing their best to keep Kimberly’s spirits up, while ignoring what appears to them as their hostess’s odd behavior. Meanwhile, Lily begins to understand what is really going on with Kimberly, while Penny is suspicious of Lily, who becomes increasingly defensive. Oh, and by the way, why is there a pistol in full view of the audience during the entire play?
Maricella Puckett directs.
Details: Opens 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, Fresno Soap Co., 1470 N. Van Ness Ave. Runs through Dec. 10. Tickets are $12 in advance tickets at brownpapertickets.com; $15 general and $10 students at the door.
‘Miracle on 34th Street’
The Shine! Theatre company presents an original musical adaptation of the classic 1947 film “Miracle on 34th Street.” It plays for two performances only: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1; and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Tower Theatre, 815 E. Olive Ave, Fresno.
The adaptation is by Valentine Davies.
Tickets are $13-$17.50.
‘A Christmas Story’
Are you looking for your official Red Ryder BB gun fix? Take a quick trip to Playhouse Merced, where the musical “A Christmas Story” — based on the beloved film — has found a holiday home. For those who have had their tongue stuck to a pole for the past few decades and don’t know the plot, a brief rundown:
Nine year old Ralphie Parker wants only one thing for Christmas: An Official Red Ryder Range Model Carbine Action BB Gun. There’s only one problem: everyone else is convinced he’ll shoot his eye out! Undeterred, he begins his saga of convincing all the necessary players of his need.
Details: Runs through Dec. 10, Playhouse Merced, 452 W. Main St., Merced. Only a few tickets remain.
Fresno Community Concert Band
The second concert of the Fresno Community Concert Band’s 25th anniversary season features clarinetist Diego Zarate-White playing Mozart, selections from “The Polar Express,” music from “Hansel and Gretel” and a “Christmas Auld Lang Syne.”
Details: 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, Shaghoian Hall, 2770 East International Ave., Fresno. Tickets are $12.
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