Weekend theater openings include ‘A Christmas Story’ at GCP, ‘Hookman’ at City College and ‘Two Ladies of Vermont’ at Fresno State

It’s a busy theater weekend:

Good Company Players

With two shows with the word “Christmas” in the title, Good Company Players is most definitely in the holiday mood.

At Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater, GCP is in the opening weekend of “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” a returning title from the company that adapts the movie to the stage. The show opened Nov. 9 and continues through Jan. 7.

In my 2015 Fresno Bee review, I wrote:

Is the appeal of this nostalgic tale – set in a long-ago 1940 idyllic Midwest small town – the funny bits and catch-phrases? Certainly “You’ll shoot your eye out” has entered the common lexicon. So has the tongue-stuck-to-the-flagpole scene, the unveiling of the ugly leg lamp and, of course, the longing for the Red Ryder BB gun, a dream come true for its company’s marketing executives.


But there’s something deeper here. This is just me putting on my cult-classic thinking cap, but I think the secret of the movie’s appeal is the way it deftly balances the sweet haze of holiday sentimentality and the tart realization that no one truly achieves the Hallmark version of Christmas, except in your memories.

Can a song-and-dance musical do the same thing?

Perhaps not perfectly – but still surprisingly well.

At GCP’s 2nd Space Theatre, you can get in the Ghost of Christmas Past-mood in November with a new production of “A Christmas Carol” adapted by none other than GCP’s own Emily Pessano. Elizabeth Fiester tells Kings River Life magazine that audiences will see the old story in a new light. The show opened Nov. 2 and runs through Dec. 23.

Fresno City College

Summer Session directs Lauren Yee’s existential slasher comedy “Hookman,” now in its opening weekend.

I asked Session why she wanted to do the show:

I’ve always had a love for this script and I knew it was perfect for a college environment. The story is one that speaks to the students of Fresno City College and any college freshman for that matter. It is relatable and also brings to light a heavy issue that some people may not have the tools to handle when in a new environment without the safety net of childhood. I chose “Hookman” to bring this same issue to light in the community, create a safe space for those involved and because I wanted to tell a story that the student body could relate to.

The director notes that there are laughs, tough subjects and gore-filled thrill. The play is “definitely” not intended for young audiences.

It runs through Dec. 18.

Experimental Theatre Company

Fresno State’s student-led theater features Leanna Keyes’ “Two Ladies of Vermont,” a “queer and trans riff” on Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona.” Haley Wallace directs. A description:

“Four Millennials explore their faith, their relationships, and their duty to live their authentic lives. This play takes the basic skeleton of Shakepeare’s play, takes out the terribly sexist ending, and inserts representation and ideas that matter now.”

Two performances remain in this one-weekend run: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12.

Selma Arts Center

I’ve already told you about the local premiere of the cult musical “Ride the Cyclone” at Selma Arts Center. Short version: A group of teenagers dies in a freak accident on a roller coaster, then compete for the chance to come back to the land of the living. Read my interview with the co-directors here. The show runs through Dec. 2.

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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