Donald Munro: Get ready for a hurricane of a cultural weekend

FresnoFebruary 20, 2014 

This and that from the arts beat:

Crowded weekend. Every couple of months or so, a Fresno weekend rolls around crammed with so many events that I have to scramble just to keep track of them. Such a whopper is coming Friday.

Not only is it the first weekend of the Rogue Festival, which kicks off Thursday and features hundreds of shows over a 10-day period, but a number of big names are coming through the area, including Audra McDonald (Friday at the L.J. Williams Theatre in Visalia), Bill Cosby (Saturday at the Saroyan Theatre) and Keith Sweat (Saturday at Selland Arena).

Throw in the Valley Performing Arts Council's touring ballet "The Seven Dwarfs" featuring Santa Barbara's State Street Ballet (Friday at the Saroyan Theatre), concerts by the Fresno Choral Artists (Saturday at Reedley's First Mennonite Church, Sunday at Fresno's First Congregational Church), the San Joaquin Valley Jazz Festival (Friday and Saturday at Shaghoian Hall) and Fresno State's big faculty showcase concert (Sunday at the university's Concert Hall) — and, wow, that's a lot of tickets to sell. And there's only a finite amount of media oxygen available. Event organizers are going to have to scramble to fill seats.

Of course, it's a wonderful "problem" for audiences to face.

A "Horse" not to miss: You might have seen the recent movie version of "War Horse." But until you've seen the stage version, you haven't really experienced the true wonder of this tale. The National Theatre of Great Britain's acclaimed production will be screened at 7 p.m. Thursday at movie theaters across the U.S., including in Hanford, Tulare and Porterville.

As of press time for this column, alas, it wasn't scheduled at Fresno's Edwards theater, which actually has a really good track record presenting such cultural events. Too bad.

Music all-stars: A shout-out to the 400 music students taking part in this year's All State Honor Bands, part of the California Band Directors Association annual convention, which concludes today. Many of the students are from Valley schools. Congrats to them for their hard work.

Last "Grapes": Today marks the final performance of the Good Company Players production of "The Grapes of Wrath" at the 2nd Space Theatre. Talk about eerie timing: When GCP planned this show, we weren't in the middle of a terrible drought. Now that we are, John Steinbeck's beautiful story about the Dust Bowl just seems to ache even more.

Happy 30th: The Roosevelt School of the Arts opened its doors in 1984, and it's celebrating its anniversary season with the spring musical "Once On This Island," which opens Friday. The Friends of Roosevelt School of the Arts Gala fundraiser is Saturday, and while tickets to the dinner are sold out, organizers want to bring in a big audience for the show that night. A silent auction will be held during intermission.

Congrats to the students, alumni, teachers and supporters of this prestigious performing arts school.

 

The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6373, dmunro@fresnobee.com and @donaldbeearts on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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