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Calling all fishes and their friends: It’s opening night for the Selma Arts Center production of “The Little Mermaid.” The show, which opens 7 p.m. Friday, May 11, and continues through May 26, is the musical based on the Disney film. I featured Maria Monreal, who plays Ariel, and Joshua Plowman, who plays Prince Eric, on the May episode of “The Munro Review.” They sat down to talk with me a little about the production and then performed a musical number: https://youtu.be/s_lyAoB8kwg Tidbits from the interview:

THEATER PREVIEW
Consider this as a title: “Men Are from Pluto, Women Are from Neptune.” Not quite the same ring to it, wouldn't you agree? But “Mars” and “Venus” seemed to do the trick, somehow perfectly encapsulating author John Gray’s premise that most common relationship problems between the sexes can be chalked up to fundamental psychological differences between the sexes. After selling more than 50 million copies, “Men Are from Mars, Women are From Venus” has been adapted into a number of genres, including infomercials, audiotapes and videotapes, weekend seminars, theme vacations, a one-man off-Broadway show, a TV sitcom, and a proposed movie. GLOBEhigh-rez Perhaps most successful is a one-man stage version that premiered in Paris in 2007 and was seen by 1 million people throughout Europe. It debuted in the U.S. in February 2013 and has been touring the country ever since. (It last played in Fresno in 2016.)

You can win a pair of tickets to Saturday’s performance of "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" (8 p.m. Saturday, May 12, Tower Theatre). To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us 1) if you've ever read the book; and 2) whether you ever used anything from it in a relationship. (Or, if you're too shy to share about your personal life, just tell us why you'd like to go.) Deadline to enter is 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 9.  I'm giving away three pairs of tickets, and I’ll pick the winners at random. Please don’t enter if you won’t be able to use the tickets. I’ll be informing the winner by email, so check yours on Thursday.


The touring stage version makes a stop at the Tower Theatre for one performance only (8 p.m. Saturday, May 12). It stars Ryan Drummond, an actor, singer, juggler, mime instructor, and voiceover artist (he was the original voice of “Sonic The Hedgehog” for Sega Gaming Corp.).

If you think you work long hours in your job, consider a typical day in the life of a Drum TAO company member on tour: Meet in the hotel gym at 6:30 a.m. to hit the machines. After a vigorous workout of cardio and strength training, take a shower and eat breakfast. If it’s your first day in a city, arrive at the theater by 10:30 a.m. In Drum TAO, you do your own load-in -- you unpack the trucks, carry in the equipment, set everything up on stage, tune the drums. Lunch is at 2 p.m. Continue pre-performance prep, any needed rehearsals, warm-ups. Shows are usually at 7:30 or 8 p.m. After the vigorous, high-octane production is over, you help strike the set and load the trucks. You’re back in the hotel after midnight. [caption id="attachment_8961" align="alignnone" width="1280"]drum tao Drum TAO presents "Drum Heart" on Saturday, May 5, at the Saroyan Theatre.[/caption] Next day: Meet in the gym at 6:30 a.m. to hit the machines. “We manage to keep in shape,” says Taro Harasaki, who has been in Drum TAO for 14 years.


You can win a family four-pack of tickets to Saturday's performance of "Drum Heart" (7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5, Saroyan Theatre). To enter, leave a comment on this post telling why you'd like to go. Deadline to enter is 10 p.m. Friday, May 4, so this is a quick turnaround. I'll pick the winner at random. Please don't enter if you won't be able to use the tickets. I'll be informing the winner by email, so check yours Saturday morning.


That’s an understatement. Then again, the promotional image for the tour pretty much says it all: Most of the company members are clad in costumes baring their washboard abs. These guys and gals are not gorging on American fast food.

As far as dreams go, this one has been around a long time. Folks at Reedley College have been wanting a new campus performing arts center for longer than most of us have been alive. Ninety years, to be exact. Now the college’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts is on its way to becoming a reality. And you can win a four-pack of tickets to a swanky event on Sunday, May 6, raising money for construction costs. (See details on how to enter the giveaway for “Sip & Savor the Arts” tickets at the end of this post.) CFFPA Concept Rendering The new performing arts facility is planned to be adjacent to Reed Avenue near the Forum Hall and Library buildings. It will seat between 650 and 750 people for performances and will include an art gallery and event gathering space. When you look at the conceptual drawings submitted by Darden Architects, it sure looks as if it will be an impressive structure. How much will all this cost? Between $20 and $30 million.

Just call it the Big Ticket Giveaway. This coming weekend is huge for the Fresno-area classical music scene. To celebrate, I’m giving tickets away to FOUR events. And you can enter all four giveaways with just one comment. Here’s what you can win: ♦ A pair of tickets to hear acclaimed pianist Jeremy Denk perform for Fresno State’s Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series (8 p.m. Friday, April 27, Fresno State Concert Hall). His program includes Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 30, Shubert’s Sonata in B-flat, and Prokofiev’s complete “Visions fugitives.” [caption id="attachment_8881" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Jeremy Denk 7 Jeremy Denk performs April 27-28 at Fresno State, first with Keyboard Concerts, then the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra.[/caption] ♦ A pair of tickets to hear Denk -- in a great crossover collaboration -- perform Beethoven’s famed “Emperor” piano concerto with the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Thomas Loewenheim (8 p.m. Saturday, April 28, Fresno State Concert Hall). The program also includes Prokofiev’s monumental Symphony No. 5. ♦ A pair of tickets to the Fresno Community Chorus big spring concert featuring its Master Chorale and Coro Piccolo ensembles, all in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth (2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 29, Shaghoian Concert Hall). “Chichester Psalms,” here we come. ♦ One of two pairs of tickets to “Broadway on Van Ness,” featuring past chorus members from Fresno Grand Opera (5 p.m. Sunday, April 29, with a reception an hour beforehand, First Congregational Church). The program includes classics such as Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” to newer tunes such as a selection from “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.”

Welcome to Fresno, Laura Bell Bundy. If that name doesn’t ring a bell for readers out there, then you aren’t up on your “Legally Blonde” lore. Bundy was the first Elle Woods in the Broadway musical. (And hardcore theater fans know that originating a role is a very big deal, indeed.) Bundy is in town this weekend to offer a master class and mini-concert for cast members and the general public in the upcoming Children’s Musical Theaterworks production of “Legally Blonde,” which opens Friday, April 13, at the Fresno Veterans Memorial Auditorium. LBB Poster And you can win a pair of tickets to the mini-concert and the CMT production of “Legally Blonde” itself! Bundy’s master class is noon-4 p.m. Sunday, April 8, at the theater. It will follow the typical format, says CMT board president K.C Rutiaga: The cast is prepared to perform scene work, group numbers, and principal solos and duets from the show with Bundy’s guidance and suggestions. The class will take place on stage with the observing non-cast members watching up close from the audience. Bundy also will do a Q&A session with the cast and audience members involving the Broadway production of “Legally Blonde,” her career, and the industry in general. Tickets are $40.

Soli Deo Gloria, the greater Fresno area’s preeminent women’s chorale, is celebrating a very special anniversary this year: No. 10. Doesn't time fly? solideo To mark the occasion, music director Julie Carter commissioned a piece titled “Immortal Harps” from local composer Kevin Memley. Here’s a description:

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. [caption id="attachment_8597" align="alignnone" width="1056"]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[/caption]

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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.

DANCE REVIEW
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. [caption id="attachment_8362" align="alignnone" width="1300"]213A4698 A moment from the Contemporary Dance Ensemble concert "Episteme." Photo / Fresno State[/caption] 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.