Donald Munro

‘Steel Magnolias,’ ‘Honk!’ and Orpheus top among best bets

The cast of ‘Steel Magnolias’ at the ViSTA Theatre: Britt Monahan as Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie, Kate McKnight as M’lynn Eatenton, Jennifer Hurd-Peterson as Truvy Jones, Elizabeth Stoeckel as Clairee Belcher, Julie Shows as Annelle Dupuy-Desoto and Joyce Fitzgerald as Ouiser Boudreaux.
The cast of ‘Steel Magnolias’ at the ViSTA Theatre: Britt Monahan as Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie, Kate McKnight as M’lynn Eatenton, Jennifer Hurd-Peterson as Truvy Jones, Elizabeth Stoeckel as Clairee Belcher, Julie Shows as Annelle Dupuy-Desoto and Joyce Fitzgerald as Ouiser Boudreaux. JA Photography

My arts picks for the week include a chance to reconnect with the popular play “Steel Magnolias,” expose your kids to theater with the chipper “Honk!” and experience the premiere of a new commissioned work for the Orpheus chamber ensemble.

‘Steel Magnolias’

The event: ViSTA Theater, formerly known as The Voice Shop, presents Robert Harling’s 1987 play, set in a beauty parlor, about a group of women in a small-town Southern community who grapple with life’s twists.

The director: Joyce Mayhew, previously the artistic director of Lompoc Youth Theater.

The draw: While best known to most audiences as a powerhouse movie starring Shirley McLaine and Julia Roberts, the stage version of “Steel Magnolias” has its own vibe and appeal. “We're working on a very small stage, and it would be easy for the beauty salon props and furniture to upstage us,” says Kate McKnight, who plays M’Lynn. “Joyce has put the emphasis where it belongs: on telling the story. She has no interest in us modeling our characters on the film actresses' portrayals, but rather has encouraged us to make the script central to our interpretation.”

More online: For a question and answer interview with McKnight and Britt Monahan, who plays M’Lynn’s daughter, Shelby, go to www.fresnobeehive.com/entertainment.

Details: Opens 7:30 p.m. Friday, runs through May 14, ViSTA Theater, 1296 N. Wishon Ave., www.fmaa.ticketleap.com, 559-222-7464. $20 (special Mother’s Day performance $25).

‘Honk!’

The event: Selma Arts Center offers a musical adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen ugly-duckling tale. Joshua Taylor directs.

The draw: “Honk!” is “the rare show that entertains and enthralls both children and adults,” Taylor says. “Combining a lively score, clever script and wholesome message, it evokes the great, classic Broadway musicals while adding a fresh, contemporary spin.” The leading cast includes Camille Gaston, known as a local powerhouse performer, and Kevin Carrillo.

Details: Opens 7 p.m. Friday, runs through May 6, Selma Arts Center, 1935 High St., Selma. www.selmaartscenter.com, 559-891-2238. $19, $17 seniors and students, $15 for children under 13.

Chamber music premiere

The event: In “North/South Encounters,” the Orpheus chamber ensemble, known for its forward-thinking musical energy, presents a Fresno State concert that includes music from the U.S. and Brazil.

The draw: The program includes the premiere performance of “Miniatures/Glimpses” for string quartet by Fresno composer Bryce Cannell, a doctoral candidate at the University of California at Davis, commissioned for this concert by Orpheus. Other composers on the program are Aaron Copland, Charles Griffes, Silvio Ferraz, Luciano Gallet and Heitor Villa Lobos.

Details: 8 p.m. Sunday, Fresno State Wahlberg Recital Hall. www.orpheusfresno.org, 559-284-3311. $15, $5 students.

Sensory-friendly theater

The event: Shine! Theatre launches its sensory-friendly theater series with a production of “Schoolhouse Rock Live!”

The draw: The production is a partnership with Break The Barriers and is presented in honor of Autism Awareness Month. It is designed to create a performing arts experience that is welcoming to all families with children with autism or with other disabilities that create sensory sensitivities.

Details: Opens 7:15 p.m. Friday, plays 2:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Break The Barriers, 8555 N. Cedar Ave. www.brownpapertickets.com, 559-549-4741. Free, but reservations are required.

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