Welcome to the podium

The Fresno Philharmonic celebrates a new era with the official arrival of Rei Hotoda as music director

Finally! After the long, hard haul of searching for a new conductor, the big day is finally here for patrons of the Fresno Philharmonic.

Rei Hotoda will officially take the podium on Sunday, Oct. 15, in her first concert as the orchestra’s new music director. She was the unanimous choice of the orchestra’s search committee after six finalists each conducted a Masterworks concert during the 2016-17 season.

Her debut marks a new era for the orchestra. So it’s fitting that the first piece played under her new tenure will be Aaron Jay Kernis’ “New Era Dance.”

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Taking up the baton: Rei Hotoda’s first piece will be “New Era Dance.” Photo / www.reihotoda.com

She will be joined by guest artist Natasha Paremski, who will play the Grieg piano concerto. Paremski has played in many of the world’s great concert halls.

(I’m giving away two pairs of tickets to readers; see the end of this post for details on how to enter.)

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Win tickets to StageWorks Fresno’s ‘Little Shop’

UPDATE: Congrats to our two winners, Alina Gonzalez and Anjali Davis. Enjoy!

ORIGINAL POST: StageWorks Fresno closes its 2017 season with a show that could eat the entire Fresno Art Museum: the much-loved “Little Shop of Horrors.” This quirky classic musical about a man-eating plant from outer space opens Friday, Oct. 6, at the museum’s Bonner Auditorium.

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The Munro Review is giving away two pairs of seats for any opening weekend performance. You can choose from 7:30 p.m. Friday (opening night) or 7:30 p.m. Saturday, or 2 p.m. Sunday.

Here’s how you enter: Leave a comment on this post answering this question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you hate going to the dentist? (1 being you positively adore the experience, and 10 being you’d rather let your teeth rot away than sit down in that chair.) Or, if you’d prefer not to discuss your dental issues, tell us why you’d like to see the show.

I’ll pick two winners at random. You’ll be able to pick up your tickets at Will Call. Deadline to enter is midnight Wednesday, Oct. 4. I’ll get back to the winners the next morning.


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May the orchestra be with you

Win tickets to the Fresno Philharmonic’s season opening concert, a pops lineup devoted to the movie music of John Williams

Music and memories go hand in hand. What comes to mind when you hear the famed John Williams theme to “Jaws”? (Were you one of those scaredy-cats who refused to go into the water at the beach that summer?) How about the opening theme for “Star Wars”? (Did you camp out overnight for the first screening of “The Phantom Menace”?)

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The Fresno Philharmonic on Saturday opens its 2017-18 season with a pops concert dedicated to the movie music of Williams. To mark the occasion, The Munro Review is giving away a pair of tickets to the performance.

To enter, answer this question by leaving a comment on this post: What is your favorite John Williams movie theme, and what memories does it provoke?

You have a long list of options. Williams wrote the music for seven “Star Wars” films released to date, the first three “Harry Potter” films, “Superman: The Movie,” “JFK,” “E.T.,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Jurassic Park,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and many others. (And you can throw in the Olympic fanfare, which most people can whistle on demand.)

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A Fresno fringe weekend

You can win tickets to “Seattle to Fresno,” the annual mini-fringe event sponsored by the Rogue Festival

Nat Vickers and her bike, Luna, have been through a lot of kilometers together.

More than 25,000, in fact.

The Toronto fringe performing artist will tell you about life with Luna in “Girl on a Bike,” her solo show at the “Seattle to Fresno: Best of Fringe” three-day weekend festival at Mia Studio & Gallery. Vickers took the burgundy colored Norco touring bicycle, which is covered with stickers from places around the world in which the pair has pedaled, on a 7,000 kilometer bike trip across her native Canada. It took them three months.

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Road trip: Nat Vickers and Luna, her bike, traveled across Canada. Photo / Fraser Elsdon

Win tickets to any performance of “Seattle to Fresno”: See details on how to enter below.

She camped along the way, staying in places she figured she wouldn’t be bothered (graveyards were always a good bet), inevitably bumping into fellow travelers and accumulating wacky and poignant vignettes.

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Hot, hot Norwegian repression

A freewheeling discussion between star Brooke Aiello and director Heather Parish of “Hedda Gabler”? We’ll drink to that

THEATER PREVIEW

It’s Hedda Gabler’s birthday morning, and she’s kicking off the celebration with a mimosa. The thing is, I’m so clueless about alcohol in the a.m. that I get to the end of a 90-minute breakfast interview at Irene’s Cafe before I realize that the grand dame of 19th century theatrical realism sitting across from me isn’t drinking straight orange juice. Champagne before 9 a.m.? I’m shocked. Aghast. This is no mere woman … this is a monster!

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Past fling: Ted Nunes is Eilert and Brooke Aiello is Hedda in “Hedda Gabler.” Photo / The New Ensemble

Actually, Brooke Aiello — one of Fresno’s most passionate acting talents — is nursing not one but four beverages as we talk about The New Ensemble’s new production of “Hedda Gabler.” There’s coffee from Irene’s, black tea from Starbucks, a glass of ice water and her tall, frothy birthday drink. There’s a method to all this, even though I don’t quite understand it: something about sweet followed by sweeter. Or is it sweet followed by bitter? It doesn’t matter; she has a process in mind. This is someone who has definite views on many things, including the liquids in her life.

“I’m going to be very well hydrated today,” she happily tells me.

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(Updated) Instagram photo contest: Win tickets to ‘Lion King’

Enter by posting an animal from your own “savannah” on Instagram

UPDATE: Congratulations to randomly selected winner Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young! She receives a four-pack of tickets to the closing weekend of Children’s Musical Theaterworks production of “Disney’s Lion King, Jr.”

As promised, here’s a menagerie of contest entries, starting with Dorina’s. (They are all so sweet. I wish I could have given tickets to each and every entrant.)

Continue reading “(Updated) Instagram photo contest: Win tickets to ‘Lion King’”

Win tickets to Selma Arts Center’s ‘Carrie’

To get in the mood, readers submitted their own high-school prom photos.

UPDATE: Congratulations to our winners: Silvia Fisher and Michelle Olson. Plus, at the end of this post, check out the photo gallery of vintage prom pics submitted by readers.

ORIGINAL POST: Hopefully your high school prom went better than Carrie’s. Then again, the musical “Carrie” — based on the classic Stephen King novel about a girl with telekinetic powers who is picked on by her classmates — is pretty much the baseline for a prom from hell, so that isn’t saying much.

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Outsider: Abigail Halpern plays the title role in the Selma Arts Center production of “Carrie.”

Still, to get you in the high school mood, and to mark the new production of “Carrie” at the Selma Arts Center, the Munro Review is giving away two pairs of tickets for any opening weekend performance. Plus, as a winner, you’ll get two extra special perks: a backstage tour after the show AND a photo onstage with the cast.

Continue reading “Win tickets to Selma Arts Center’s ‘Carrie’”

Win tickets to ‘Full Monty’ at StageWorks

UPDATE: Congrats to our randomly selected winners: Karen Hau (whose stripper name is “Trixie Georgetown”) and Adan Alvarez (“Tammy Jansen”).

My top three favorite names from among all 70 entrants, by the way, are “Nipper Newlon” (Lisa Marie Boyles), “Lady DeWitt” (Dorian Follansbee; say that one out loud for the full effect) and the legendary “Pusskit Acacia” (Bradley Money). The all-time worst stripper name: ” Lumpy Vartikian” (thanks to Chloe Quesada). Don’t quit your day job, Chloe. To all: Thanks for playing!

ORIGINAL POST: Leave it to StageWorks Fresno to get a little steamy in July. “The Full Monty” opens Friday, kicking off a three-weekend run. This Broadway musical adaptation of the beloved 1997 movie follows a group of laid-off male factory workers who decide to put on a strip show to raise money. (And they aren’t exactly the Chippendales.)

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Here’s your chance to score some of the theater season’s hottest tickets — for free. The Munro Review is giving away two pairs of seats for any opening weekend performance. You can choose from 7:30 p.m. Friday (opening night) or Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, all at the Dan Pessano Theatre.

Here’s how you enter: Leave a comment on this post telling us your “stripper name” using the following formula: Your first name is your first pet’s name, and your last name is the name of the street you grew up on. (Which makes my stripper name “Lightning Morningside”. Va-va-voom!) Or if you have Victorian sensibilities and would rather remain demure, tell us why you’d like to see “The Full Monty.” (Then again, if you have Victorian sensibilities, maybe you shouldn’t be seeing it anyway.) You’ll be able to pick up your tickets at Will Call. Deadline to enter is 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 19. I’ll get back to the winners that evening.


To subscribe to the email newsletter for The Munro Review, go to this link:

https://tinyletter.com/donaldfresnoarts