5 Things to Know about Broadway in Fresno’s ‘Sound of Music’

You can win a pair of tickets to opening night plus dinner at Cosmopolitan Tavern

UPDATE: Congratulations to winner Andrew Esquer.

ORIGINAL POST: When I catch up by phone with Keslie Ward, who plays Liesl in the national tour of “The Sound of Music,” she’s in Sioux Falls, N.D. Which is not the warmest place on the planet in February, particularly for someone who grew up in Texas. She’s happy that warmer California is on the horizon as the tour prepares for a two-night stand at the Saroyan Theatre (it opens Wednesday, March 14). Here are 5 Things to Know about Ward and the show.

Plus: You can win a pair of tickets to opening night and dinner at Cosmopolitan Tavern and free parking. See details at the end of this post.

Keslie Ward as Liesl and Chad P. Campbell as Rolf. Photo by Matthew Murphy
Keslie Ward as Liesl and Chad P. Campbell as Rolf in the national tour of ‘The Sound of Music.’ Photo / Matthew Murphy


She’s 24 going on 16.

But don’t worry: Ward is used to playing younger than she is. One of her gigs before the tour was working on a Disney cruise ship, where in one production she played a girl of 12. So pulling off an infatuated teen singing “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” is no big deal.

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Fresno State’s ‘Epistêmê’ offers a whirlwind of motion and emotion

You can win a pair of tickets to any of the final three performances of the Contemporary Dance Ensemble


The Contemporary Dance Ensemble at Fresno State continues its run of “Epistêmê,” every night this week through Saturday. There was a very small audience in the John Wright Theatre at the Sunday matinee I attended, which is a shame. These hard-working dancers deserve a bigger spotlight.

A moment from the Contemporary Dance Ensemble concert “Episteme.” Photo / Fresno State

A few thoughts from the show:

The opening: “Project Solo,” which introduces each dancer individually, is a clever appropriation of the tropes we’ve come to expect from “Project Runway”: the focus on personality (we’re bombarded with multiple images of each dancer as he or she gets a moment onstage alone to shine); the confident, fashion-strut-style of interaction with the audience (each move telegraphing “Look at me!”); the music putting a pep in everyone’s steps (with an overall techno-beat feel). Stephanie Bradshaw’s idiosyncratic costumes help pump up that sense of individuality, and Liz Waldman’s projections have a nice, grainy feel, with complexions and hair colors posterized almost to abstraction. Most important, the dancers, guided by choreographer and CDE artistic director Kenneth Balint, exude a sense of basking in our attention — which is what the “Runway” is really about, right?

Win two tickets to any remaining performance of the Contemporary Dance Ensemble’s “Episteme.” To enter this giveaway, leave a comment on this post telling us why you’d like to go. Deadline to enter is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21. If you win, you can choose from any of the following three performances: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23; or Saturday, Feb. 24.

The student choreographer: Kudos to Nathalie Quiros for her weird and transfixing “Esoteric Flux,” which began with some of the dancers huddled squarely under a white sheet, like a shuddering ice cube, moved to ribbons of fabric flinging bodies around, and ending with a kinetic, twitchy sense of disrupted time. I liked the fearlessness of the choreography and the impatience of it all, with dancers at times literally being yanked off one side of the stage or the other. Brisk, unsettling and infused with a sort of jittery zombie menace, I found myself drawn to Quiros’ distinct visual language.

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World-class piano on Valentine’s Day: What could be more romantic than that?

You can win a pair of tickets to the Feb. 14 concert featuring Yefim Bronfman with the Fresno State Keyboard Concerts season

The Chicago Tribune once described pianist Yefim Bronfman’s style as “a marvel of digital dexterity, warmly romantic sentiment, and jaw-dropping bravura.” That “romantic” part is a good sell for Bronfman’s Valentine’s Day performance as part of Keyboard Concerts at Fresno State.

Yefim Bronfman, pianist
Yefim Bronfman performs Wednesday, Feb. 14, at Fresno State. Photo / Keyboard Concerts

Bronfman regularly plays the world’s top concert venues, including Carnegie Hall in New York, Hertz Hall in Berkeley, the Schiller Theater in Berlin, and Symphony Center in Chicago, among others. The Israeli-American pianist is a regular soloist with the Vienna, New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, and the Boston, Montreal, Toronto, San Francisco and Seattle symphonies.

He last performed for the Keyboard series in 2016.

His program for the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series at the Fresno State Concert Hall includes Beethoven’s Sonata in F major, Schubert’s Sonata in C minor, Debussy’s “Suite Bergamasque” and Stravinsky’s “Trois Mouvements de Pétrouchka.”

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In ‘Cirque Dreams Holidaze,’ more than reindeer fly

Win a special prize package that includes tickets for opening night and dinner for two at Cosmopolitan Tavern

UPDATE: Congratulations to winner Heather Rhodes!

ORIGINAL POST: Jill Winters is scared of heights.

But that doesn’t stop the creative and music director for Cirque Dreams from tracking down performers who are most definitely unafraid of heights to appear in her shows. From thousands of audition tapes she receives each year from circus artists, Winters travels the world seeking out a select few, from Russia to Ethiopia. The aim is to recruit these stellar professionals into one of her “Cirque” shows touring the United States.

The cast of “Cirque Dreams Holidaze.”

You’ll get to see some of the best of those performers in “Cirque Dreams Holidaze,” which plays Tuesday, Dec. 19, and Wednesday, Dec. 20, at the Saroyan Theatre as part of the Broadway in Fresno series. (Scroll down for a chance to enter my ticket giveaway, which includes dinner for two at Cosmopolitan Tavern and free parking for the evening.) I got the chance to chat with Winters by phone about the show. Here are Five Things to Know:

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Win tickets to ‘Annie,’ ‘The Nutcracker’ and Soli Deo Gloria

In this special Three in One contest, you can enter for all three events

Do you long to get out to one of this weekend’s fun cultural performances, but your budget doesn’t allow it? Perhaps my special Three in One ticket giveaway can help.

I’m giving the following away to three notable events:


• A pair of tickets to Soli Deo Gloria’s big holiday concert (7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, University Presbyterian Church), which features music from Fresno’s all-women choral ensemble. You can watch an interview with artistic director Julie Carter and hear a performance by some of the singers on the latest video version of The Munro Review (interview starts at the 11:20 minute mark).

• Two pairs of tickets to the Children’s Musical Theaterworks production of “Annie” (for the 7:30 p.m. performance on Saturday, Dec. 9, Veterans Memorial Auditorium). You can read my preview here.

• Two pairs of family four-packs — if you’re a winner, you get four tickets — to the Central California Ballet production of “The Nutcracker” (for the 7:30 p.m. performance on Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Saroyan Theatre). You can watch an interview with directors Shirley Winters and Carla Lippert and dancer Marin Brant on the latest video version of The Munro Review (interview starts at the 5:00 minute mark).

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Win tickets to Fresno Philharmonic’s holiday concert

Conductor Rei Hotoda and orchestra celebrates the holidays with an acclaimed baritone soloist, the Fresno Master Chorale and more

UPDATE: Congratulations to winners Christina JG Connelly and Lisa Gluskin.

ORIGINAL POST: The Fresno Philharmonic has an appealing holiday concert planned for you this weekend. Guest artists for “Home for the Holidays” include the acclaimed baritone Jubilant Sykes, who has appeared in such venues as the Metropolitan Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. Also joining conductor Rei Hotoda will be the Fresno Master Chorale, directed by Anna Hamre, and the Alta Sierra Intermediate School Chamber Choir, directed by Gail Barbour.

Jubilant 3
Jubilant Sykes is guest soloist at “Home for the Holidays.” Photo / Fresno Philharmonic

A special treat will be Mark Standriff (who recently played Mushnik in StageWorks Fresno’s “Little Shop of Horrors”) narrating the classic “ ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

The concert is 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Saroyan Theatre.

And guess what! I have a pair of tickets to this popular concert to give away to a reader of The Munro Review.

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Win tickets (and dinner) to ‘Gentleman’s Guide’

Special prize package for opening night includes tickets, dinner at Cosmopolitan Tavern and parking

IMG_1842UPDATE: Our winner is Joseph Hypes of Merced. His lucky number is now 67. Special thanks to Cosmopolitan Tavern and Broadway in Fresno for making this giveaway possible.

ORIGINAL POST: Sometimes it can be hard to take a chance on a musical with which you’re not familiar. Especially a professional production — with corresponding ticket prices.

That might be the case with “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,” the 2012 Tony Award winner for best musical, which opens Tuesday, Nov. 28, at the Saroyan Theatre.

But what if you got to go for free?

You can read all about the show in my interview with James Taylor Odom, who plays the leading role(s) in this comic murder romp set in Edwardian England.

And you can enter my ticket giveaway, which is a special prize package: a pair of tickets to the opening night performance, dinner for two at the Cosmopolitan Tavern (conveniently located in the convention center parking lot) and free downtown parking.

To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite menu item at Cosmo, as the long-time Fresno restaurant is often affectionately called. (If you’ve never eaten there, that’s OK, too; pick something from the dinner menu you’d like to try.)

Deadline to enter is 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 27. Winner selected at random. I’ll be notifying the winner on Monday evening, so be sure to check your email. Please don’t enter if you won’t be able to attend.

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



Win tickets to Fresno Philharmonic’s tribute to veterans

Program includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5

I’m looking forward to the Fresno Philharmonic’s concert on Sunday for a couple of reasons.

For one, it’ll be Rei Hotoda’s second time on the podium as the orchestra’s new music director. She has a moving program titled “Homage” planned that includes Beethoven’s famed Symphony No. 5 and returning guest artist Orion Weiss, who will playing Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

phil logo

Secondly (and more personally), I’m actually going to be an official part of the afternoon! I’ll be guest-hosting the pre-concert lecture, “Words on Music,” at 2 p.m. in the Saroyan Theatre. On stage with me will be Hotoda. She and I will talk about the program — which has a Veterans Day theme — and also a little about her as a person off the podium, based on a profile I’m writing that will be posted later this week.

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