There's a new wrinkle to this year's "New Wrinkles": good old rock 'n' roll.
There's also a new director: longtime "Wrinkles" choreographer David Bonetto, who takes over the 26th annual installment of the popular senior musical revue at Fresno City College featuring cast members 55 and older.
"I chose rock music because it was a genre that had never been done before with 'New Wrinkles,' " Bonetto says. The show, titled "Rockin' Through the Ages," features songs nominated by cast members that had an impact on their lives.
We caught up with Bonetto by email to talk about the show, which is in its opening weekend. (Read an extended version of this interview on the Fresno Beehive.)
Question: What do you hope to do with this theme?
Answer: I was looking to explore music, push the cast outside of the box or the norm and expand our New Wrinkles audience. I also am trying to bridge the age gap here at Fresno City College to draw in a broader audience.
You're taking over as director after a long run by Fred Bologna. What new things will longtime viewers recognize?
This year we have tightened the show with blocking and choreography that is a little different than in the past. Our show evolves around a local DJ, Darryl Yates, who wrote the script. A music buff and incredible historian of music and the music scene here in Fresno, he adds a new dimension of spoken word to the show.
This year we have added numerous video presentations as sets or backgrounds to give our audience the visual of moments that may have been forgotten. (In our Beatles medley: the band getting off the plane, Ed Sullivan, etc.) What you won't hear this year are the one-liners that 'New Wrinkles' has been known to share. With the story of rock and roll, they just didn't fit with the script this year. Instead we are informing and sharing with the audience a little bit about the history of rock and how it played a major part in our Valley music scene.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I have been the guest choreographer for "New Wrinkles" for the last 23 years, working with Tom Wright (the first director) and choreographing for Fred Bologna for the past 10 years. I have been on faculty at Fresno City College in the Theatre Arts and Dance Department for 24 years. And I am the owner/director of Danceworks Unlimited: This year I am celebrating 35 years of teaching dance to students 2 to 89 years old. My time has been spent sharing my passion for the arts with students of every age.
Born, raised and educated in Fresno, I am a local boy who loves where I call home. I share my life with my partner of 26 years, Eric Gomez, and our incredible daughter, Payton, who are probably my biggest cheerleaders. My background in business is diverse, including our family business, which is Sunnyside Department Store, and as the former owner of Preen Salon in Fresno.
For those who aren't familiar with all the work that goes into "New Wrinkles," tell us about the time commitment for the performers.
All performers must be over the age of 55. The cast of over 50 began in November with dance classes, learning the choreography. They worked once or twice a week dancing. In January, auditions were held for solo consideration and also for new cast members. If they were interested in doing a solo, they choose their own music, choreography and or monologue.
Vocal rehearsals, under vocal and music director Dede Nibler, began after the first of the year, with the cast meeting on Wednesday evenings to prepare the large group and ensemble numbers. In February blocking rehearsals began — three hours every Saturday to put together the show. The last week prior to show we are in the theater every evening, to accommodate the cast that happen to still be working.
Give us a sneak preview of a couple of the numbers.
Years ago I choreographed "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena" as a dance with walkers. Well, the ladies and walkers are back as they bring back the Little Old Lady with "We Will Rock You" and "Your Mama Don't Dance." And the men are "Moving Like Jagger" this year.
"New Wrinkles: Rockin' Through the Ages," through June 15, Fresno City College Theatre. newwrinklesfresno.com, (559) 442-8221. $16. There is relaxed parking for all performances.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6373, email@example.com and @donaldbeearts on Twitter.