Reviews are by Donald Munro; NR = not reviewed.
Next Fall: Visalia Players opens Geoffrey Nauffts’ play about two gay men in a committed relationship, one religious, the other an atheist. (Opens Friday, May 13)
An Ideal Husband: Crisply directed by Laurie Pessano, this Good Company Players production of the Oscar Wilde classic at the 2nd Space Theatre captures the playwright’s engaging wit and boasts a gorgeous production design. Casey Ballard is a standout as a troublemaking member of society who tries to blackmail the up-and-coming junior politician Sir Robert Chiltern (a sonorous Sterling Chase Stubblefield). Alex Vaux adds sparkle as Lord Goring, Sir Robert’s steadfast friend. While there are some wobbles, including an ending that feels rushed and a bland portrayal of Lady Chiltern (Alyssa Gaynor), the production offers lots of pleasant giggles giggles at the excesses of the upper class and harrumphing at the hypocrisy of situational morality. Through June 12.
Big Fish: Playhouse Merced presents a musical based on the 2003 movie about a man whose impossible stories of his epic adventures frustrate his son.
Blue Willow: Fresno State presents a world premiere of a play that could be considered Fresno’s own “Grapes of Wrath,” with the focus on two migrant worker families during the Great Depression. Closes Saturday, May 14.
Closer: Fresno Soap Co. performs Patrick Marber’s play about modern love and betrayal. Closes Saturday, May 14. (NR)
The Little Mermaid: The new Good Company Players production is a tsunami of visual fun that can make you feel as if you’re truly under the sea. Director Dan Pessano is able to latch onto the human aspect of the well-known story of a mermaid who longs to be human while still creating a stirring sensory experience. Emily Pessano is strong in the leading role of Ariel, with sweet vocals and just a hint of feminist backbone, and Brianne Janae Vogt delivers a memorable performance as Ursula the Sea Witch – all eight tentacles of her. But the real standouts are Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed’s ingenious costume design, Andrea Henrickson’s spiffy lighting design and David Pierce’s standout sets. Through May 15.
Of Mice and Men: Reedley’s River City Theatre Company presents the play based on the John Steinbeck novel. Through May 22. (NR)
Steel Magnolias: Oakhurst’s Golden Chain Theatre presents Robert Harling’s play set in a Louisiana beauty salon. George Rich directs. Through May 22. (NR)
NEXT WEEK’S OPENINGS