Backstage spy: When you’re frozen on stage, what’s going through your head?

As one of my favorite productions of the year reaches its final weekend, here’s a chance to go behind-the-scenes

And now, for the second and final part of our closing-week tribute to the wonderful “Drowsy Chaperone” at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater, we get an entire series of fun videos. This production has lots of moments when the actors have to hold their positions for long periods of time. And now, finally, we have the answer to the burning question: What do they think about?

Special thanks to Emily Pessano for being our Spy (and for her editorial comments sprinkled throughout.) There are only four more performances of this top-notch show remaining.

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Theater roundup: Andrew Jackson gets ‘Bloody,’ while Fresno City explores a ‘Silent Sky’

Weekend openings also include “And Then There Were None” at Fresno State; and “Twelfth Night” at Fresno Pacific

Before there was “Hamilton,” there was “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” (Or, as it could have been alternatively titled, “Old Hickory: The Musical.”) President Jackson might not have been one of the Founding Fathers, but the creators of “Bloody” knew back in 2008, long before “Hamilton” conquered the world, that mashing together American history and rock music could mean a big creative payoff. That’s why I’m leading off my roundup of a very busy theater weekend with a much-awaited new production at Visalia’s College of the Sequoias.

Illness as Metaphor
Let there be blood: Cheyenne Breshears as Rachel Jackson and Michael Seitz as Andrew Jackson. Photo / College of the Sequoias

College of the Sequoias

First Fresno City College and director Charles Erven broke new ground this season with a premiere production of the Broadway musical “Green Day’s American Idiot.” Now it’s time for Chris Mangels and the top-notch theater department at COS to offer another local hard-edged musical premiere.

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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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In ‘Hold This Stone,’ a generation keeps important memories alive

Nikiko Masumoto and Brynn Saito open an innovative theater piece about Japanese-American internment camps in World War II

Nikiko Masumoto and Brynn Saito are yonsei, or fourth generation Japanese Americans. They’ve often talked about the reality that theirs will likely to be the last generation to know family members who lived and survived through the American internment camps of World War II.

In “Hold This Stone,” an innovative theater piece scheduled for just two performances this weekend (it opens Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Fresno Soap Co.), the two friends and artists collaborate to explore the ramifications of memory — and more. I caught up with Masumoto to talk about the show (which is sponsored by CURTAIN 5 TheatreGROUP) and the Yonsei Memory Project, which she and Saito founded.

Brynn Saito poses at the monument to Japanese Americans at Simonian Farms.

Q: When you were growing up, how much did you know about the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II? How old were you before you got the complete story?

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Backstage spy: ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’

UPDATE: And now, for your continued viewing pleasure, here’s the second installment in our video countdown to the closing weekend of “The Drowsy Chaperone”:

ORIGINAL POST: Faithful readers of this site know at least two things: I’m a big fan of the Broadway musical “The Drowsy Chaperone”; and I think the Good Company Players production of this warm and funny show is first-rate.

Only one weekend of “Chaperone” remains at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater. To give this production one last hurrah on The Munro Review, I asked cast members to put together a series of videos on what it’s like behind-the-scenes at this fast-paced, good-hearted show.

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Nov. 3)

You can win a pair of tickets to New York-based Ballet Hispánico, which performs Saturday at the Saroyan. Plus: It’s time for ‘A Christmas Carol’

Here’s a roundup of promising arts/culture picks for the weekend:

Ballet Hispánico

Simply put, this is one of the prime dance events of the year, and it’s thanks to the Lively Arts Foundation. The New York-based Ballet Hispánico is making a special “run-out” to the West Coast just for Fresno.

Direct from New York: Ballet Hispánico performs Saturday in Fresno.

Plus: I’m giving away a pair of tickets to Saturday’s Saroyan Theatre performance to a lucky reader of The Munro Review. (Details on the giveaway are below.)

Diane Mosier, artistic director for Lively Arts, who prides herself on keeping up on the contemporary dance scene, has followed Ballet Hispánico for about six years.

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Check out the video version of ‘The Munro Review’

Plus: Don’t forget Thursday’s big CMAC Fest

Last month I introduced you to the first episode of “The Munro Review,” an arts talk show in collaboration with the Community Media Access Collaborative (CMAC). Now my second episode focusing on November is streaming. My guests this month are Thomas-Whit Ellis of Fresno State talking about “Native Son,” which continues through Saturday, Nov. 4; and Tony Carranza of, which is open for ArtHop tonight (Thursday, Nov. 2).

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5 picks for November ArtHop

Options include the Fresno City College Art Space Gallery, the Fresno Arts Council, Chris Janzen at Fresno City Hall, Enrique Meza at Jeffrey Scott, and ‘Nudes in November’

Elena Harvey Collins is in her first semester as curator of Fresno City College’s Art Space Gallery, and she’s excited about the new exhibition she put together for November. Los Angeles-based Rebecca Campbell is the featured artist. Her intriguing sounding lineup of paintings and installation pieces leads off picks for ArtHop (5-8 p.m. at most venues Thursday, Nov. 2).

Here’s a rundown:

The show’s title: “a little breath that always goes the distance longing requires.” It’s from the poem “Oklahoma” by Fresno-born poet Larry Levis.

art space gallery

The themes: Campbell explores the complexity of identity, the nature of memory, and the representation of women in the art world.

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