A fond adieu to 2017

I’ve already told you my Top 20 favorite cultural events for 2017. Now here are a couple of year-ender wrap-up lists that I can’t resist:

My favorite stories of the year

My criteria: It’s completely subjective. I just like how these stories came out. For some, it was the fun in reporting them, and for others the joy in writing them. (Note: Because of my hybrid year — working through May as the Fresno Bee’s arts reporter, and the remainder of the year in my new role at The Munro Review — you’ll find stories from both platforms.) Here they are in chronological order:


In the moment of totality: my photograph taken from Mary’s Peak in central Oregon on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. Photo / The Munro Review

In Delphi, a mysterious past provokes navel gazing: In this travel piece from Greece, I visit the strangely moody location where the famed oracles changed the ancient world.

What a long, Strangely trip the Rogue Festival can be: I profile a modern-day minstrel, a guy named “Strangely,” who bops around from one fringe festival to another.


Reaching ever higher, the arts capture a fundamental aspect of being human. And for that I’m thankful: My farewell column for the Fresno Bee, in which I sing the praises of the Fresno Community Chorus Master Chorale.


If he were a rich man: Tevye the milkman meets up with Adam Kitt, the “Singing Realtor,” for an afternoon of house shopping. Photo / The Munro Review

House Hunters International: the Russian Peasant Edition: I hook Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof” up with a Realtor to find the Fresno version of the house in “If I Were a Rich Man.”

Sunsets and Vivaldi: At Festival Mozaic, I get the chance to experience three beautiful concerts at three even more beautiful San Luis Obispo County locales.

Give a hand for Hedda: My review of Brooke Aiello and company in a memorable “Hedda Gabler” for The New Ensemble.

A new way to look at the sun: I hike to the top of a mountain in Oregon to experience totality at the moment of August’s solar eclipse. My favorite piece of the year, enlivened by the fact I wrote it in a car zooming home on Highway 99.

Politics, art and marriage: I profile local artist Leslie Batty and her politically charged show at the Fresno Art Museum, weaving in her intensely personal story.


What a coup: The Munro Review snags an interview with Leaf Erickson (Ms. Leaf for short), the only one of his/her kind in the world. Photo / StageWorks Fresno

Exclusive: The plant tells all: How to write an advance for the much-loved (and often covered) “Little Shop of Horrors”? Interview Audrey II, the human-eating plant.

All the men in Merced keep getting killed by Candarian demons: What piece did I have the most fun writing this year? It had to be this silly review of Playhouse Merced’s “Evil Dead: The Musical.” I cranked the cast album on my headphones and went to town.

Best read posts on The Munro Review

And, finally, for those of you who love statistics, here’s the list of the Top 10 posts for 2017:


A Blog Is Born: I’m here and I’m clearly passionate about continuing to cover local arts.


Farewell to Fresno: Amy Querin is departing for Wisconsin in December. Photo / James Ramirez


Dancing off to Wisconsin: Amy Querin, founder of NOCO and a stalwart of the local cultural scene, will soon be saying farewell to Fresno.


Fresno to CMT: You need to vacate Memorial Auditorium: Children’s Musical Theaterworks says it was blindsided by the city. There are conflicting versions of events.


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


StageWorks is bringing ‘Fun Home’ to Fresno: Plus a recap of every local 2018 theater season I can find.


Fresno has a new maestro: Rei Hotoda: Orchestra picks Hotoda as the 8th music director and conductor in the organization’s long history.


Catching up with John Scalzi: The well-known science fiction writer — and former Fresno Bee movie critic — returns for a quick visit and update on his career.


Stripper auditions: the men of “The Full Monty.” Photos / StageWorks Fresno


Going beyond the genital jokes: As StageWorks Fresno opens the local premiere of “The Full Monty,” its six steelworker strippers sit down to talk about body image, gender roles and the challenges of taking off their clothes in the intimate Dan Pessano Theatre.


My Top 20 cultural events of 2017: I offer my picks for the best of the year in theater, classical music, dance, opera and visual arts.


Circle of life: the cast of “Disney’s The Lion King, Jr.” Photo / Sandy Tacchino, Children’s Musical Theaterworks


The ‘Lion’ doesn’t sleep Friday night: Children’s Musical Theaterworks offers community-theater premiere of the Disney Jr. version of “The Lion King.”


Gently, with a chainsaw: Fresno State’s ‘Heathers’ offers a caustic and funny take on people just dying to get ahead.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • Jackie Ryle

    Donald, it is just amazing to see all the ground you have covered, the wealth of experience you have managed to live, and the wonderful way you capture and share it all with us! Thank you!


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