Weekend update: Dominic is off to D.C., Audra gets Roosevelt High honor, and Omar croons his love of mariachi

In this post: various musings on weekend topics, including: Dominic Grijalva wins a chance to go to the Kennedy Center; Audra McDonald will have a Fresno theater named after her; some thoughts on Omar Naré’s “Nuevo Mariachi” concert on Saturday; and your chance to offer input on Fresno State’s proposed performing arts center. 

Triple threat

He directs, he designs killer graphics, he sings. Now here’s the latest accomplishment for “Spring Awakening” director Dominic Grijalva: On Saturday he won the top musical theater award at the American College Theater Festival’s regional competition in Mesa, Ariz.

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Dominic Grijalva, left, and Kaitlyn Hipwell of Weber State University after the musical theater awards at the ACTF regional musical theater competition.

Next step is the national competition at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in April. He also won a $600 scholarship to attend the Open Jar Musical Theatre Workshop in New York.

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5 picks for August ArtHop

From Kerby C. Smith’s bracing winter photography at M Street to the glory of ink pens at Bitwise, here are promising options for Thursday

One of the great things about ArtHop, the monthly open house of galleries and studios in the downtown and Tower District neighborhoods, is that it’s year-round. We don’t take the month off in Fresno just because it’s a little toasty outside. Here’s a list of five cool picks for August. ArtHop at most venues runs 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3, but check the Fresno Arts Council website for variations.

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Woman in red: Kerby C. Smith’s “Pohono Bridge.”

M Street Arts Complex

I like the way Kerby C. Smith thinks. He waits until the hottest time of the year to unveil his new exhibition of 18 images he photographed in January through March in the Yosemite Valley as the park was buried in winter’s bountiful snowfall. My guess is that your internal body temperature will go down a few degrees just looking at these crisp and creative works. (And it helps that the M Street Arts Complex galleries are air-conditioned.) I caught up with Smith to chat about “Cool in July,” which has been extended through August. The exhibition is sponsored by the Fresno Arts Council, the Chris Sorensen Studio, Electric Motor Shop, Horn Photo and Abby Pet Hospital.

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5 picks for July ArtHop

From James Dean at K-Jewel to an artistic musical bash at Tower District Records, here are promising options for the monthly open house of galleries and studios

If it’s the first Thursday of the month, it must be ArtHop. My own arts home might have changed recently, but at least one thing is still the same: my picks for this popular monthly open house of galleries and studios in the downtown and Tower District areas. Here are five venues that sound promising:

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Entertainment icon: S.W. Parra’s ‘Marilyn Monroe.’

K-Jewel Art Gallery

S.W. Parra, or “Surfwest” as you might know him under more breezy circumstances, is a well known local artist thanks to his long tenure as a cartoonist and illustrator at a certain Fresno daily newspaper. In January I was wandering through the Chris Sorensen Studio “Black and White” show when I bumped into Parra and his big, award-winning entry in the exhibition: a 5-foot-by-6-foot painting of James Dean titled “Icon.”

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Donald’s notes: Constantine Pappas gets big break in ‘Phantom’

Quick updates on Miles Gaston Villanueva, the Selma Arts Center Awards, some stylish GCP housewives, Heidi Blickenstaff in ‘Freaky Friday,’ and a last word on the Fresno Philharmonic’s new music director

A roundup of stuff on the arts beat that recently caught my eye:

‘Let the Dream Begin’: A national Raoul

If you spent any time taking in the local opera scene in recent years, you knew the talented and charismatic Constantine Pappas — and probably guessed that he was going big places. From memorable roles at the California Opera Association to strong performances with Fresno State Opera Theatre as a voice major, Pappas offered a voice and dynamic stage presence that was hard to miss.

Photograph of Constantine Pappas made up as an old man and a young man.
All made up: Constantine Pappas in a recent rehearsal as Raoul (both old and young) in the national tour of ‘The Phantom of the Opera.’

After a stint singing on a cruise ship and time doing some smaller stage roles, including a Connecticut run in “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Pappas was set to appear in a summer production of “The Fantasticks” at Sierra Repertory Theatre in Sonora. Then he got the call from his agent: He’d just landed a role understudying the character of Raoul in the national tour of “The Phantom of the Opera.”

That’s a big deal. This is the same big first-tier production that toured through Fresno in 2016, complete with a redesigned massive set and impressively sized orchestra.

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