StageWorks is bringing ‘Fun Home’ to Fresno

The company announces its 2018 season, which includes “The Fantasticks.” Plus: recaps from Good Company Players, Fresno City College and Reedley’s River City Theatre Company.

UPDATED: I’ve added the seasons for Children’s Musical Theaterworks and Visalia’s College of the Sequoias.

ORIGINAL POST: Stop the digital presses: StageWorks Fresno has snagged the rights to perform “Fun Home: The Musical.” The show was nominated for an impressive 12 Tony Awards in 2015 and won five, including best musical.

In “Fun Home,” composer Jeanine Tesori and writer-lyricist Lisa Kron transform the cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s popular graphic-novel memoir, subtitled “A Family Tragicomic,” into a spare and beautiful musical.

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National tour: “Fun Home” continues on the road through the end of the year. A local production opens June 29 in Fresno. Photo / “Fun Home” tour

Bechdel’s adult self is narrator, looking back at herself as a 9-year-old navigating through childhood and as a 19-year-old college freshman embracing the fact she’s lesbian.

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No half-effort for this ‘Full Monty’

StageWorks Fresno offers a robust and meaningful production of the steelworker-stripping comedy

THEATER REVIEW

In one of the best numbers in StageWorks Fresno’s rousing new production of “The Full Monty,” the six out-of-work (and, in varying degrees, out-of-shape) steelworkers at the center of the musical are finding it hard to get inspired for the Chippendales-style strip show they’ve agreed to put on for their friends, family, and the greater Buffalo., N.Y., area.

What gets them in sync and rhythm?

The mention of Michael Jordan.

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Feeling like “Scrap”: a scene from “The Full Monty.” Photo / StageWorks Fresno

Yes, that Michael Jordan. The famed basketball player is immortalized in the first-act finale. Coming in this late 1990s musical, at first it seems a stuffy and dated reference. As the actors on opening night whipped themselves into a wonderful choreographic frenzy in the song “Michael Jordan’s Ball,” inspired by the sports star’s effortless moves on the court, I found myself pondering: If this sweet and funny show endures for, say, 40 years, will audiences in the future be only vaguely aware of Jordan’s legacy, the same way kids today nod politely when their elders talk about such sports heroes as Babe Ruth?

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Going beyond the genital jokes

As StageWorks Fresno opens the local premiere of “The Full Monty,” its six steelworker strippers sit down to talk about body image, gender roles and the challenges of taking off their clothes in the intimate Dan Pessano Theatre

THEATER PREVIEW

The six men who promise “The Full Monty” in the new StageWorks Fresno production are sitting in the lobby of the Dan Pessano Theatre, and there’s nary a nipple nor belly button in sight.

In just a few hours at rehearsal on  this Tuesday evening, these men will be bumping and grinding down to a state of undress that may or may not include a glimpse of what those of a Victorian sensibility might refer to as the actors’ nether regions. (We’re going to dispense with the “Will they?” or “Won’t they?” take-it-all-off tittering right at the top of this story: As an audience member, you won’t find out until the final moments of the play. And I’m not going to ruin any surprises. There will be no more coy references to that red-hot question in the words that follow.) But for now, the atmosphere is clothed and introspective.

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Let it go: James Schott plays Jerry in the StageWorks Fresno production of “The Full Monty.” Photo / StageWorks Fresno

Maybe stripping does that to people.

Being introspective, that is. Not the clothed part. In fact, the lack of clothes is the topic of conversation.

“I’m coming to grips with the fact that isn’t quite as easy as I thought to get down to a bunch of tighty whities in front of a bunch of people,” Aaron Pierce is saying. He plays Ethan, one of the out-of-work steelworkers in this musical adaptation of the 1997 film.

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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.


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The stars at night are big and bright

StageWorks Fresno offers a fundraising night of food, drink and musical performances

StageWorks Fresno transformed the Fresno Art Museum’s sculpture garden into a Broadway cabaret Saturday night at “Theatre Under the Stars,” the non-profit company’s big annual fundraiser. I collected digital autographs of StageWorks performers and artistic personnel. For videos of some of the performances, check out my Instagram Story. Find me on Instagram at @donaldmunroarts (and follow me!).


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StageWorks star power

Annual ‘Theatre Under the Stars’ fundraiser moves to the Fresno Art Museum

It’s been a little chilly at night the past few weeks, (and how glorious that has been), but if the weather forecast holds up, Saturday is shaping up to be downright toasty. The plus side to that: It will make for a perfect outdoors evening for “Theatre Under the Stars,” the annual StageWorks Fresno fundraiser.

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A scene from last year’s ‘Theatre Under the Stars.’ Photo / StageWorks Fresno

Here’s a rundown:

The event: Now in its third year, this is StageWorks Fresno’s most important (and only) fundraiser of the year. It’s being held in the sculpture garden of the Fresno Art Museum.

The backstory: For the first two years, the event was held in the garden of Deb & David Reuland. “Having outgrown the space, we are extremely excited to be moving to the museum,” says StageWorks’ Jennifer Lewis, the company’s business manager. Last year’s event raised more than $21,000, which helped fund the 2016 season.

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