Reviews are by Donald Munro; NR = not reviewed.
Beauty and the Beast: The popular Disney musical is revived by CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre. (Opens Thursday, July 14)
The Wizard of Oz: Children’s Musical Theaterworks opens the beloved musical featuring cast members ages 6-13 at the Fresno Memorial Auditorium. (Opens Friday, July 15)
The Buddy Holly Story: Joseph Ham plays the title role in this River City Theatre Company jukebox musical saluting the famed rock ’n’ roller. Through Aug. 7 (NR)
Hamlet: Woodward Shakespeare Festival struggles with the Shakespeare classic. Director Broderic Beard, stretched thin by also playing the title role, is not able to articulate a cohesive vision of the show nor plumb much of its emotional depth. With a small cast (just 12 players with no doubling of roles), Beard scales down the production, which works fine in some ways and fails in others, including a head-scratching depiction of the death of Polonius. The high acting point comes from Casey Ballard as Laertes, who connects with the text and brings the focus and energy the role needs. Closes Saturday, July 16.
Hello, Dolly!: The classic Jerry Herman musical gets a solid but uneven Good Company Players production directed by Steve Souza, whose leading lady, Janet Glaudé, on opening night struggled to craft a consistent and cohesive Dolly. At times she played this larger-than-life character so softly she almost faded into the background. At others, she offered flashes of brashness that felt disjointed and sometimes even cranky. I wanted more flair and fun from her. Gordon Moore was a delight as the crabby Horance Vandergelder. There’s much to like about the Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater show, including a small but mighty band of Dolly waiters welcoming her back home. Closes Sunday, July 17.
I Hate Hamlet: Good Company Players presents Paul Rudnick’s comedy-drama about a TV star scared to play Hamlet on stage. This fresh summer hit at the 2nd Space Theatre is a witty and well-written romp, and director Elizabeth Fiester strikes a fine balance between insider Shakespeare jokes and general silliness. CJ Dion is a standout as the ghost of John Barrymore, who nurses TV actor Andrew Rally (an amusing Chase Stubblefield) through the angst of playing one of theater’s most challenging roles. The small ensemble cast is uniformly top-notch. Through Aug. 14.
The Who’s Tommy: This must-see StageWorks Fresno production of the famed rock musical by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff gets a high score for inspired direction and a superb ensemble. The jangled narrative about a young boy who loses his sight, hearing and speech after a traumatic event comes alive in vivid musical vignettes staged with intimate precision by co-directors Joel C. Abels and Josh Montgomery. Riveting performances from Amalie Larsen, Jacob Wilson and Randy Kohlruss help anchor a strong show. Closes Sunday, July 17.
NEXT WEEK’S OPENINGS
The Collection: A touring play about eccentric art collector Peggy Guggenheim makes a stop at Fresno’s 1821 Gallery & Studios. (Plays Friday, July 22)
My Fair Lady: Good Company Players presents the timeless story of a Cockney flower girl who takes London society by storm at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater. (Opens Thursday, July 21)