The List: From ‘Elf’ to Youth Orchestras, some promising picks for the weekend

Welcome to The List, a curated offering of promising events for the weekend. Why stay home with Hulu when there’s a whole world of local stuff to enjoy and support?

1. Elevate an ‘Elf’

Santa usually gets all the attention at Christmas, but Children’s Musical Theaterworks wants to make sure that his helpers get a moment in the spotlight, too. The company’s new production of “Elf, Jr.,” which opens Friday, Dec. 7, and continues for a two-weekend run at the Fresno Memorial Auditorium, is filled with comic holiday cheer.

Based on the popular 2003 movie starring Will Ferrell, this musical adaptation opened on Broadway in 2010. The CMT version features 28 performers between ages 8 and 18. Noah Miranda and Josh Hudson rotate the role of Buddy, the young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. When he figures out he’s human and not the elf he’s been raised to be, a trip south to find his real farther sparks all sort of jolly effects.

The production is directed by Kamryn Hemaiden.

A fun fact to know about the show: It includes a Macys toy store scene. Many new toy donations were received for this scene, and all toys will be donated to the Marjaree Mason Center the day after closing.

Plus: You can win a family four-pack of tickets to the following opening-weekend performances: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. The official entry form is here. Deadline is 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, so don’t dawdle!


If you go: Opens 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, Fresno Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 2425 Fresno St., Fresno. Continues through Dec. 16. Tickets are $14-$22 adults, $10 children.

2. Get to know ‘Miss Bennet’

At Fresno State, a snappy new play opens with a Yuletide bent. “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” is the best present a Jane Austen fan could find under the tree.

Directed by Brad Myers, this sequel to Austen’s beloved novel “Pride & Prejudice” takes place two years after the book ends. But instead of focusing on Elizabeth Bennet — who is now happily married to Mr. Darcy — it focuses on another Bennet sister, Mary.

I got the opportunity a couple of weeks before opening to sit down and talk with Evangelia Pappas, who plays Mary, and Ian Jones, who plays Arthur, the equally nebbish man she falls for, for “The Munro Review” on CMAC. Here’s the interview:

If you go: Opens 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, Fresno State John Wright Theatre. Continues through Dec. 15. Tickets are $17 adults, $10 students.

3. ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’

This holiday classic was first seen on television, but now it’s been adapted for live opera. You can share in the inspirational holiday message of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” thanks to the California Opera Association, which offers a festive afternoon that includes a holiday tea with treats, the performance, an auction and a raffle.

If you go: 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, Trinity Lutheran Church, 3973 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno. A free will offering will be taken. 

4. Youth Orchestras of Fresno

Do you need a thrilling reminder of the talents and passions of young people today? You can experience the sounds of 250 members of the three ensembles of Youth Orchestras of Fresno in a special December concert. A description from the organizers:

Musicians as young as five will be performing works by Mozart, Haydn, and Rossini (the beloved Bartered Bride overture), as our Youth Chamber and Youth Symphony orchestras command the stage. Then our advanced Youth Philharmonic Orchestra will tackle the monumental Mahler Symphony No. 1, “the Titan.” It is indeed a titanic work, written before the composer had even reached the age of 30—a work filled with daring orchestral sounds that no one before young Mahler had thought to ask of a symphony orchestra. Extremes of sound—exceptional quiet followed by crashing cacophony—offer a thrilling ride to the audience. And there’s even a famous (and famously soft) solo for the double bass.

Adam Elmore and Music Director Thomas Loewenheim will conduct.

If you go: 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9, Shaghoian Hall, 2770 E. International Ave., Fresno. Admission is free, though a donation of $10 is suggested. Seats can also be reserved in advance for a fee.

5. Fresno State Symphony Orchestra

One more concert to entice you: The highly regarded Fresno State Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Loewenheim, offers its second concert of the season. Titled “From Russia with Love,” it will present three beautiful works written by Russian composers (Stravinsky, Glazunov and Tchaikovsky).

It will be a special concert for graduate conducting student Joseph Cargill, who will lead Glazunov’s “Carnival Overture.”

If you go: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, Fresno State Concert Hall. Tickets are $15 general, $10 seniors, $5 adults. 

6. And don’t forget …

I’ve already filled you in on Soli Deo Gloria’s Christmas concert, ArtHop picks (with many galleries open for the weekend), and — of course — the final weekend of “The Lion King.” (Here’s my review.) So much to do!


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.

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