In a must-see show, Brad Myers gives his weightiest performance yet

Fresno City College production of “The Whale” is haunting and compelling

THEATER REVIEW

You hear Brad Myers in “The Whale” before you see him. The wheezing from the darkened stage is alarming and disorienting, like in the middle of the night when you wake from a deep sleep to hear one of your kids throwing up. As the lights slowly rise, we begin to focus on the source of this unhealthy sound. That’s when we first see Charlie, a troubled man. He thinks he could weigh 600 pounds, though it’s been years since he’s been able to get on a scale to know for sure. In a culture in which obesity seems ever more common, Charlie’s physical condition is still enough to alarm.

whaleposter2In Fresno City College’s fine production of Samuel D. Hunter’s play, which ran off Broadway in 2012, Myers — a Fresno State theater professor appearing in this production as a guest actor — gives a performance as Charlie that is revelatory. It’s a terrific, mesmerizing and deeply affecting piece of work.

You might be tempted to attribute my over-the-top praise to something similar to the Oscar “disability effect,” in which actors playing characters with physical or mental disabilities — often gut-wrenching roles involving extensive makeup or prosthetics — have an edge in terms of critical acclaim. Yes, perhaps that is a factor. But at its core, Myers’ performance seems so much more than a couple of hours in a fat suit. (And what a well designed fat suit it is, thanks to Debra Erven). With limited mobility other than from the neck up, he relies almost exclusively on his voice and eyes to make the character work.

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Rogue 2018: Whether on the street or inside a theater, these magicians just want to entertain

In some communities such as San Francisco, there’s a divide between those who work their magic inside and those who do it on the street

By William Ramirez

Kyle Elder and Chase Martin have loved magic since they were children. Magic has always seemed to love them, too, but in very different ways.

The Rogue Festival this year is hosting five magic acts. Among those acts you’ll find magicians with different performance styles. Martin is a street magician who relies on people walking by for his audiences. Elder is more a traditional magician who offers ticketed shows inside established venues.

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At top, Chase the Entertainer performs his magic show on the streets of San Francisco. (Photos via chasetheentertainer.com.) Above, Kyle Elder is president of the Fresno Magic Club.

While their styles differ, both came to magic as a refuge. Martin found it to be a way to work for himself, something he desperately needed due to his fatigue and pain caused by his congenital myasthenic syndrome, a neuromuscular transmission disorder. Elder fell in love with the art when his grandfather, who was sick with cancer, bought him a simple coin trick from a magic shop in San Francisco.

They come from different magic worlds.

Martin mastered his craft in the magic community of San Francisco, which he said has a “divided” magic scene.

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Rogue 2018: For this Super Fan, there are never too many shows

Lori Williams got hooked on Fresno’s Rogue Festival almost a decade ago, and every year she makes the most of the experience

By Paige Gibbs

Some people zip over to the beach for a rest. Others fancy a quaint cabin in the woods. For Lori Williams, attending the Rogue Festival in Fresno’s Tower District every year is her version of a vacation.

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After the show: Lori Williams, right, gets to hang out at the 2018 Rogue Festival with Les Kurkendaal, her favorite performer.

Williams, locally known by many as the Rogue Festival’s “Super Fan,” has attended for nine years.

Her first Rogue experience was to see her son, Jacob Williams, perform when he was in high school. Two years in a row, Jacob and a group of his classmates created an act.

“After a couple years of seeing shows, I did more and more and more,” Williams says. “And now I’m totally addicted. Rogue Festival for me is like two weeks in Hawaii. It’s fun. It’s lively. It’s alive. It’s different. You can run the gamut from heart-wrenching drama to hilarity to clowns.”

And that’s just one day.

Williams typically sees 34 or 35 shows during the run of the festival. Her record was 36 performances one year.

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Now streaming: the March episode of ‘The Munro Review’

A special thanks to Gina Sandí-Díaz, Ruby Arreguin and Lupe Perez for being my guests on the March installment of “The Munro Review,” produced by the Community Media Access Collaborative (CMAC). Gina and Ruby talk about the new Fresno State production of “Lydia,” which opens March 16. And Lupe gives us an update on the new public art that was just unveiled at downtown’s Mariposa Plaza.

Also, I recap “Trashique 2018,” tip my hat to Children’s Musical Theaterworks for bringing the original Elle Woods to Fresno, and preview lots of March events to come, including concerts from Soli Deo Gloria and the Fresno Philharmonic. Enjoy!


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Don’t be a crab: Win tickets to Junior Company Foundation fundraiser

UPDATE: Congratulations to winner Charles Rabb.

ORIGINAL POST: If you love crab, this one is for you. If you love the thought of uber-talented young people getting tremendous training for musical theater, this one’s for you, too. I’m giving away a pair of tickets to the big Junior Company Foundation 4th Annual Crab Feed on Tuesday, March 6, at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater.

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Proceeds benefit the Junior Company and its scholarship program. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and dinner starts at 6. Tickets are $65.

To enter my giveaway, leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite way to eat crab. Is it crab cakes? Crab salad? Crab smoothies? Or just good old fashioned cracked crab? (Or if you’re too shy to share your culinary tastes, just tell us what you think the Junior Company means to Fresno.)

Deadline to enter is 7 p.m. Monday, March 5. I’ll be picking the winner at random soon after, so keep a watch on your email. May the biggest crab lover win.


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Rogue 2018: Under new artistic leadership, NOCO dances in a different direction

Preview: For the Fresno Dance Collective, festival represents a big transition and a new beginning

By Selina Falcon

The Fresno Dance Collective (NOCO) premieres “Nothing is Beautiful; Everything is Fine” at the 2018 Rogue Festival this weekend at Dianna’s Studio of Dance. This is the first show since the departure of NOCO founder Amy Querin – who just a few months ago moved to Wisconsin – and the pressure is on.

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NOCO performs through Sunday, March 4, at Dianna’s Studio of Dance. Photo / Rogue Festival

Alexandra Tiscareno, NOCO’s new resident choreographer and the creator and director of the new show, is well aware of the shoes she has to fill.

“When you hear the word NOCO in the Fresno dance scene, you immediately think of Amy,” Tiscareno said. “You think of her creative genius, her drive, and her passion … It is a lot of pressure.”

Tiscareno, 24, is from Fresno and never had any formal dance training growing up. She said it wasn’t until the spring of 2013 that she started taking dance classes at Fresno City College and Clovis Community College.


Editor’s note: Author Selina Falcon is a senior print journalism major at Fresno State. To celebrate the Rogue Festival, I’m excited on The Munro Review to include work from students in my advanced editing class at the university.


“That’s when I met Amy, and boy, did she not like me at first,” she said. “I think about it now and laugh, but back then, it was absolutely terrifying.”

Tiscareno was introduced to NOCO that spring when she took a class from Querin. She officially became involved with the company in 2015 when Querin needed help with NOCO’s aerial program.

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Star-crossed dancers will take the stage in ‘Romeo and Juliet’

The Valley Performing Arts Council presents the professional State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara at the Saroyan Theatre

Sometimes the staff of The Munro Review forgets something important. Such is the case this weekend, when I neglected to include in my coverage the Valley Performing Arts Council’s presentation of “Romeo and Juliet” at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at the Saroyan Theatre.

This annual collaboration between the VPAC and the renowned State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara is one of the dance highlights of the year. It’s an opportunity for professional ballet dancers to perform with students on the same stage.

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Photo / David Bazemore

State Street Ballet Artistic Director Rodney Gustafson uses the classic Prokofiev score and “intensifies the drama by highlighting the most emotional and romantic moments of the world’s most treasured love story.”

The title roles are being danced by some big names. Romeo is portrayed by Aaron Smyth, an Australian, who is soon to be a movie star. He will appear as the Snow Cavalier, opposite Misty Copeland in Disney’s upcoming feature film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” with a scheduled release date of November.

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (March 2)

Options include the chamber group Moment Musical, the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra, a memorial concert for Fresno State’s Brad Hufft, an artists reception at Arte Americas, and the final performance of ‘Sherlock Holmes’

Arts picks for a busy cultural weekend:

Moment Musical

The chamber group Moment Musical presents its latest “Sunday Serenade” concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 4, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 50 E. Santa Ana Ave., Fresno.

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The program includes Paul Wranitzky’s Sextet No. 3 in E flat major written for flute, oboe, violin, two violas and cello.

Also on the program: Antonin Dvorak’s Terzetto in C major (for two violins and viola); and Camille Saint-Saens’ Fantasie in A major (for violin and harp).

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