The List: From Philharmonic cheer to drag queens at Bitwise, some promising picks for the weekend

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

1. Ring in the holidays with the Phil

Did anyone notice a really cool thing about the December calendar? Because of the way the weekends fell, not as many performing arts groups felt the necessity to shoehorn their holiday programming into the first or second weekend of the month. That means the Fresno Philharmonic’s annual holiday concert is close enough to Christmas to actually feel genuinely festive. (At least to me. I know there are others out there who are Yuletide-infused from Halloween on.)

Pictured above: Guest conductor Scott Dunn will lead the Fresno Philharmonic.

This year’s concert, titled “Home for the Holidays,” features guest conductor Scott Dunn (associate conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra) and the Fresno Master Chorale, under the direction of Anna Hamre. You’ll also get to enjoy the sonorous vocal talents of local actor Mark Standriff, who will be handling narration duties.

Here’s a description of the program:

Dunn leads a tour of holiday music from around the world, including “Carol of the Bells,” “March of the Toys,” “Away in a Manger,” “White Christmas” and songs from “Home Alone.” Standriff joins us for the world premiere of “Sugar Plum on the Run,” a tale in music based on characters from “The Nutcracker.”

And here’s another bit of cheery news about the Fresno Philharmonic: The Wall Street Journal gave the orchestra a mention in a roundup of ensembles across the nation that performed Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem” on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. Great publicity!

If you go: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St., Fresno. Tickets are $25-$79.

2. Drag in the spotlight at Bitwise

Drag Story Time closes out its 2018 run with an event at Bitwise South Stadium. This is an all-ages, family friendly event and will feature 15-plus drag queens and drag kings reading story books to the community. It all starts at 11 a.m., but stick around after for activities, a photo booth, and fun giveaways.


You can RSVP here.

If you go: 11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, Bitwise South Stadium, 700 Van Ness Ave., Fresno. Free.

3. Holiday theater

Along with the charming “Good Company for Christmas” show at the 2nd Space Theatre, there are other live holiday offerings to tempt you. At Oakhurst’s Golden Chain Theatre, “A Christmas Carol: The Musical” continues through Dec. 23. At the Reedley Opera House, “It’s a Wonderful Life” plays through Sunday, Dec. 16. (Here’s a review of the show from Kings River Life.) I’m sure there are some others out there I don’t know about, so feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

4. And don’t forget …

I’ve already filled you in on Fresno State’s “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley,” which closes Saturday, Dec. 15. (Here’s my review; and here’s a fun take on the show from local “Janeite” Heather Parish.)

“Elf Jr.,” from Children’s Musical Theaterworks, plays through Sunday, Dec. 16. (Here’s my review.)

Fresno Filmworks presents the Japanese film “Shoplifters,” winner of the Palme d’Or award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. It plays 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at the Tower Theatre.

Finally, some very good local musicians are heading all the way to Chicago next week when the Wind Symphony of Clovis performs at the largest and most prestigious music education conference in the world. Before they go, they’re performing a send-off concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at Shaghoian Hall. Here’s my feature story. Should be some great music!

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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.

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