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Rogue Reviews 2014

IN THE March 2 ISSUE

FROM THE 2014 Articles,
andArts & Entertainment,
andTheatre
SECTIONS

by Terrance Mc Arthur,
Heather Parish
& Lorie Lewis Ham

Throughout the week we will be posting reviews of Rogue shows! Check back daily! And then go out and enjoy the Rogue Festival! To check out our Rogue preview article & some Rogue performer preview articles go to our Arts & Entertainment section. So far we have reviews here of Super Rock n Roll Magic Show, A Folk Rock Celebration, The Awkward Art of Flying, State Your Name For the Record, Sinatra & Sax, The Agony of Living, The Excursions, The Road to High Street, Can Death be Staid by a Catchy Chorus, The Dark Fantastic, Bromance, Downtown Fresno Blues, Nightmare In Bakersfield, Flying Dreams: a Vaudevillian Tragicomedy, Rockin’ the Rogue, Part 2, Out of Bounds, Opera Frantique: Pescalla in Concert, Partial Nugity & The Honeymoon Period Is Officially Over.


The Honeymoon Period Is Officially Over

Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

After sadly missing Gemma Wilcox’s show at last year’s Rogue Festival, I made a point of seeing her show this year. This year she brought back a show she originally performed at Rogue in 2009, called The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over. According to her video interview with us, she has made a few tweaks to it here and there since then.

The Honeymoon Period Is Officially Over
is about a young woman in England named Sandra. There are a few moments when that character is not on stage, but even then, all of the characters connect back to her at some point. What is amazing about this show is that all 20 of the characters are played brilliantly by Gemma. According to her article for KRL about the show, it is a semi-autobiographical piece. The characters include quite the variety for one person to play: men, women, a seven-year-old child, a frisky feline, an irresistible hamster, numerous feathery fowl, a jazzy sax and even the element of fire.

Gemma Wilcox

The story follows Sandra’s often troubled romantic relationship with her boyfriend, and later, husband, and Sandra’s journey to finding herself and what she really wants. It is filled with totally relatable, sexy, sad and funny moments. Some of my favorite parts were the interactions between the cat and the hamster! I loved the cat Hawthorne.

With no set beyond a piano bench, barefoot, and just a t-shirt and slacks, Gemma manages to bring every one of these characters to life to tell an interesting story. You soon forget that it’s all being played by one actor and just immerse yourself into the show because she does such an amazing job of making it all real.

I highly recommend seeing The Honeymoon Period Is Officially Over while you still can. It’s a wonderfully done show and I really hope Gemma returns to Rogue next year with another piece of Sandra’s story. It is on stage at Cal Arts Severance at 1401 North Wishon Ave. Her remaining performances are Friday, March 7 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 8 at 4 p.m. Cost is $10 in Rogue Bucks or cash.

Enjoy a fun video interview with Gemma about the show:


Partial Nugity
Review by Heather Parish

At most Fringe and Fringe-style Festivals (like the Rogue), you find a lot of solo performances talking about the performer’s “life.” The top three areas of life solo performers love to tackle: 1) overcoming child abuse – with a hopeful lesson 2) overcoming addiction – with a hopeful lesson and 3) hilarious tales from their day job- with a hopeful lesson.

Partial Nugity, written and performed by Tommy “The Reverend” Nugent, is none of these. Or perhaps it is all of these. You see, what Partial Nugity is and what it isn’t is a secret to be revealed only to those who’ve purchased a ticket.

Tommy Nugent

But what I can tell you is that it is honest. And funny, And embarrassing. And yes, has a hopeful lesson. Its running theme, at its core, seems to be about Nugent’s struggle to become a better man. Simple enough. But it is compelling stuff when it is at its most frank – even if it is “quasi-fictional, sorta autobiographical.”

Nugent’s performance style doesn’t have a lot of pretentious craft. He delivers a monologue the way your friends tell you about the latest drama in their lives over drinks at your favorite hangout. But that familiarity is exactly what draws you in to Nugent’s world. He can spin a yarn that has the ring of recognition in his speedy patter and the next thing you know you’re nodding your head as if you know exactly what he’s talking about from your own personal experience.

A particular conceit he plays with in Partial Nugity, however, is perhaps a piece of his most interesting writing yet. A monologue delivered by the dark demon in his life (performed winningly by local performer Scurvy Prophet’for’Profit) caps the 40 minute performance with a punch that is both darkness and light, and reminds us all that we have ‘gators to be fed in the recesses of our minds.

Keep them at bay, and no one gets hurt.

All in all, Nugent has merged his wit and stage presence with a more personal brand of bravery in “Partial Nugity.” In the end, the vulnerability serves him well.

Partial Nugity plays one final performance at Fresno’s Rogue Festival on Saturday, March 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Vini Vidi Vici’s patio. Tickets are $5 in Rogue Bucks, purchased in advance at the Tower Theater Box Office. Adults Only.

Correction: Scurvy Prophet For Profit was the author of the monolog he delivered in this production, not Tommy Nugent. Kudos to both for an excellent and entertaining presentation.

Heather Parish is the founding artistic director of The New Ensemble Theater in Fresno and author of What’s My Call Time? Theater Blog. You can sign up for her e-newsletter on upcoming theater offerings in the Fresno/Visalia area at www.whatsmycalltime.com.


Flying Dreams: a Vaudevillian Tragicomedy
Review by Terrance Mc Arthur

You know what juggling is like—things go up, things come down, and you hope they don’t come down where they’re not supposed to. How do you make a whole Rogue show out of that?

In Flying Dreams: a Vaudevillian Tragicomedy, Aaron Jessup makes juggling into a 55-minute program by framing it with a story of his childhood friend, and their journeys into the world of people who throw things into the air and try to make money out of it.

Aaron Jessup

You’ll see:
· a can-you-top-this contest where he plays both sides on a trick that goes from simple to unbelievable.
· A chemically-altered perception of juggling
· A black-light fantasmagoria!
· How not to make friends in the Netherlands.
· How to make friends in Germany.

Aaron is fun, self-deprecating, untiring, and working from a strong structure that creates a story that makes the audience care, with stunts that go beyond the typical three-ball fare.

As a person who has difficulty walking without tripping, this display of dexterity and agility is fantastically beyond my abilities and comprehension.

The last show for Flying Dreams is 3/8 at 8 p.m. at Mia Cuppa Café, 620 E. Olive Ave. (I love their Tomato Bisque). Tickets are $10 in Rogue Bucks.


Rockin’ the Rogue, Part 2
Review by Terrance Mc Arthur

Take a group of men old enough to remember rockin’ in the sixties, pair that with a firm belief system and a commitment to a higher power, and you get First Men of Promise, who are Rockin’ the Rogue, Part 2.

Fronted by Senior Pastor George G. Kayajanian and backed by Robert Paul on keyboards, the group looks like a senior slow-pitch softball team (in pretty good shape, though), but they can rock!

Old favorites take on new significance as you look at the lyrics in a gospel light. “Unchain My Heart” changes from a desire to leave an old love to a plea for forgiveness, repentance, and release from sin. “Takin’ It to the Streets” becomes an anthem of revival instead of urban renewal and revolution. Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Crystal Blue Persuasion” loses its hippy-dippy-ness when it is sung as “Jesus, My Salvation.”

First Men of Promise

Spawned by the Promise Keepers movement in the 90s, and a program of First Church of Promise, the group has been a part of Bringing Broken Neighborhoods Back to Life, and performs for many Fresno Police Department-sponsored events.

It’s positive, uplifting, has a good beat, and you can dance to it (I defy you to keep your feet still). When the members of First Men of Promise close ranks at the end of their show to unite in a song of gospel commitment and purpose, you will feel it in your soul, because they feel it in theirs.

First Men of Promise will be Rockin’ the Rogue, Part 2 on the patio of Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 3/7 at 6:30 p.m. and 3/8 at 2:45 p.m. Tickets are $5 in Rogue Bucks.


Out of Bounds
Review by Terrance Mc Arthur

An amazing thing has happened in the growth of Fresno’s Rogue Performance Festival. After its homegrown Fresno birth, it was discovered by performers on the fringe festival circuit, who descended upon the Central Valley like prospectors discovering the Mother Lode. Over the last few years, a change has happened.

Instead of bringing established shows to Fresno, more and more workshop productions and world premieres are happening in the Tower District in late winter.

Xan Scott

Xan Scott appeared in red-nosed glory for 2013’s Apocalypse Clown. She saw other performers with personal stories. She knew she had a story to tell, too.

This year, the stage is austere, reminiscent of a yoga studio or a Buddhist shrine. Scott bows, in tabi-clad feet, to entering audience members, or she sits in a semi-lotus meditation pose, benignly smiling at the crowd as incense smoke creates a soft undercurrent of scent. This is the preparation for “Out of Bounds,” an unflinching description of a year in a cult.

Have you ever been part of a cult? I’m not talking about Beliebers or Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters or even Beatlemania. I mean a cult that assumes control of your thoughts, actions, location, money, and life. Xan Scott was introduced to Dhan Yoga, became a student, and moved toward being a Master, pulled deeper into a movement that has been blamed for some deaths. In fact, Xan died, too…for a few seconds.

This story is told with an unnerving, calm humor, accented by flips of the hair that remind us that this was a young woman—like many others—who just wanted to be calm and healthy. It’s scary, sad, and funny and Xan will pull you in…to her story.

Out of Bounds plays at Mia Cuppa Café, 620 E. Olive Ave. (Try their tomato bisque) Remaining performances are 3/7 at 9:30 p.m. and 3/8 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in Rogue Bucks.



Opera Frantique: Pescalla in Concert

Review by Terrance Mc Arthur

Two years ago, she conquered Fresno as a pasty-faced Edgar Allen Poe in the clown-show Poe/Mathews. Last year, Gary Goes on a Date presented her as a grotesque little man lost and confused in his quest for love. This year, Emily Windler gets to be a lady. More than that, she gets to be a diva—Christina Pescalla, famous opera singer—in Opera Frantique: Pescalla in Concert.

Imagine Andrea Martin from SCTV and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Imogene Coca of Your Show of Shows (usually playing opposite Sid Caesar), Carol Burnett (especially her silent screen star character from the parody of Sunset Boulevard), Tracey Ullman, and Lucille Ball, all in one slender body. You might even add Cloris Leachman for good measure. Now, give that body a trained operatic voice, and let the wild rumpus begin!

Emily Windler

The classic diva has reached the end of her career, and it’s her final concert. Fate, unfortunately, is not kind, and has a lot of help from Pescalla’s own costumes and props to bring low the haughty star. Clothes get caught, hats won’t stay put, music stands exert a desire to do anything but hold her music, and shoe heels wander.

Emily is always in control of the physical and mental chaos, orchestrating it with fastidious precision. Hers is a comedy of small movements and the unexpected…I never knew the lady could sing! WOW!

Opera Frantique: Pescalla in Concert continues at Strummers (formerly Starline), 833 E. Fern Ave., 3/7 6:30 p.m., 3/8 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in Rogue Bucks.


Downtown Fresno Blues
Review by Terrance Mc Arthur

Some Rogue shows come in with lots of excitement and buzz, and everybody wants to go see them. That’s great. Then, there are little shows that sneak in without fanfare, and they don’t get a lot of attention, but they are great, too, wondrous experiences cherished by people who were not swayed by the hoopla.

A hidden gem of the Rogue Festival—and no less a figure than Blake Jones would agree with me on this—is the Spencer/Morris Jazz & Blues Duo, playing the Veni Vidi Vici patio with their new show, Downtown Fresno Blues.

Randy Morris is a big, cuddly guy, who makes a saxophone stutter, wail, and moan like a lovesick creature of darkness. David Spencer plays guitar with fury and love, and writes songs and parodies that can be biting, nostalgic, and rhapsodic.

For several years, Randy and David did a series of shows highlighting decades and the events that made them strange and memorable. Last year was 2000-2009, and people wondered “What next?” Spencer looked around and saw lost parts of Fresno, from Lesterburger to the big slide by Manchester Center, and he turned them into songs.

There are nifty ditties about Midstate Bowl and the destruction derby at the Kearney Bowl. Hippy Dave is remembered, along with shout-outs to Flippo, Jr., Kenny Hall, and Al Radka. The Courthouse dome and The Boy with the Leaky Boot get nods (although the Leaky Boot statue is now in the courtyard of the Plaza of what I still call the Del Webb Building.

My favorite highlight is a patriotic ballad immortalizing the afternoon delivery boys of a certain local newspaper. It’s so good, a snippet of it was pirated onto YouTube for you to enjoy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7jC_QGM83s

You’ll laugh, you’ll sigh, you’ll want to take their music home with you. There is only one more chance to see them, a “brunch” show on Saturday, March 8, at 11a.m. at Veni Vidi Vici, at 1116 N. Fulton Ave. Tickets are $5 in Rogue Bucks.

Nightmare in Bakersfield
Review by Terrance Mc Arthur

Les Kurkendaal knows where funny lives, and he knows where truth lies. He’s Black, Gay, and Funny. In his 2013 Rogue show, Christmas in Bakersfield was Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner when he met his boyfriend’s wealthy, conservative family (to whom I am related by marriage). This year, Nightmare in Bakersfield taps into a primal fear that ranks up there with death and public speaking: class reunions.

Les Kurkendaal

Les returns to Bakersfield for his partner’s twenty-year high school reunion, and hi-jinks ensue. Les is mistaken for the class’ only black student, who was on the basketball team (Les is 5’4”). The classmates don’t know the partner is gay, and he’s now famous because he was a co-producer/backer for the award-winning film Thank You for Smoking. Les is an aspiring actor who has been trying to become famous for years. Now, he has to deal with his own jealousy over the boyfriend’s status, and with who he really is.

There are side-splitting moments of unbridled snarkiness, and there are passages that are really passages from one attitude to another way of thinking. At the end of it all, Les is Better.

Nightmare in Bakersfield ends its run at Studio 74 (1274 N. Van Ness Ave.) with shows 3/7 at 6:45 p.m. and 3/8 at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 in Rogue Bucks.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.

The Dark Fantastic
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

I walked into Diana’s to see The Dark Fantastic with Martin Dockery having no idea what it was about–the blurb online just sounded intriguing.

The lights go down and a tall good looking guy in a cowboy hat (Martin) walks to the center of the stage and sits down. He then proceeds in a deep, wonderful, amazing storyteller voice to tell a story. A crazy, wild, twisted story that crisscrosses over time and all connects. The Rogue program describes it like this–Moving sideways through time, four characters collide in a world that’s as fantastical as it is mundane, and as terrifying as it is alive with wonder. In this story, there is terror, love, sadness, abandonment, and pretty much every emotion you can imagine.

I never would have imagined that one man sitting in the middle of the stage telling a story could be so riveting! I left saying wow! The use of lighting was also perfect and at times chilling. From now on anything Martin Dockery does at Rogue will be a must see. I could have listened to that voice forever! It harkened me back to the old time radio shows–which were of course before my time but my dad introduced them to me.

This is another must see show and the place was pretty packed so I recommend getting there early. The Dark Fantastic touched the storyteller in me, as well as the lover of stories. Martin Dockery is brilliant and could even make a grocery list riveting, so just imagine what he does with this incredible story.

The remaining performances of The Dark Fantastic are at Dianna’s, 826 North Fulton Ave on Wednesday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m., Friday, March 7 at 11 p.m., and Saturday, March 8 at 2 p.m.


Bromance With Kurt Fitzpatrick & Tommy Nugent
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

I loved Kurt Fitzpatrick’s Rogue show last year, so seeing what he had at Rogue this year was at the top of my priority list. This time out he is teaming up with another fringe performer familiar to Fresno, Tommy (Reverend) Nugent, for a show called Bromance.

Bromance reminds me a bit of the musical [title of show] minus the music, well there is a little music sort of. Basically it tells the story of how the two of them met, how they decided to do a show together, and then the crazy process of putting that show together. But of course they don’t just stand there and tell you a story; they also act it out and tell you about it in very crazy, over the top ways! Oh and there are slides and video as well.

Tommy Nugent & Kurt Fitzpatrick - Bromance

This is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. These two have great chemistry and are a delight on stage. They are completely different from one another, which makes for a great combination. Tommy’s personality reminds me of a totally together and cool rocker who never seems rattled by anything, with long hair pulled back to boot. Kurt is all over the place crazy and full of energy. And they are both adorable!

Describing this show beyond that would prove difficult, and half the fun is just watching it all happen in front of you. I will say though that the show includes Breaking Bad moments, a very fun rap song, witty banter, and much, much more! This was their very first performance of this show ever and I can see it being a show that will be a little different every night because these guys think fast on their feet, making it even funny when sound effects don’t play on cue.

If you are looking to laugh, a lot, while you are at Rogue, do not miss Bromance! But be sure to get there early because Strummers was packed! The remaining performances are Wednesday, March 5 at 9:30 p.m., Friday, March 7 at 9:30 p.m., and Saturday, March 8 at 3:30 p.m., all at Strummer’s, 833 East Fern Ave.–and if there’s any way I can get back to see it again I’ll be there–it’s just that awesome! And I’m not saying that just because Kings River Life got a mention in their fun little rap :)

Keep in mind though this is not a family show. There’s some strong language, sexual content and maybe even some brief nudity! So don’t bring the kids, but definitely bring yourself, this show is awesome and brilliant!

Enjoy this fun video interview with Kurt & Tommy:

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.


The Excursions
Review by Terrance Mc Arthur

At last year’s Rogue preview, one group got my attention, but I didn’t get to see them in a full show. The Excursions. Better late than never.

I met her in a doctor’s waiting room. She saw that I was wearing a 2014 Rogue Muse T-shirt. She gave me an advertising post card for her Rogue show at The Voice Shop. I went to her show. The Excursions. I should go to more doctor’s offices.

The Excursions is Woody Moise, Jeff Single, Kathleen Lane, and Mike Brown. It’s keyboards, guitars, bass, harmonica, and Kathleen shakes a mean tambourine…and most of them sing a lot. The Excursions. They trade around on instruments.
These people have been in a lot of bands. Mojo Risin’, The Fulton Street Experience, The Lost Dogs, The Kathleen Lane Band, The Stromatolites, Full Circle, Cloud Nine, Woody and the Midnights, and Cool Reflection. The Excursions.

They’re all-stars.

There are original songs, and there are covers. Appalachian folk ballads that sound like the wind echoing in a coal mind. A tribute to Lou Reed that walks on the wild side. U2, if you haven’t found what you’re looking for. The Excursions. You’ll hear things that you like, and you’ll hear things that you’ll discover that you like.
Kathleen sounds like many things. Emmylou Harris. Karen Carpenter. Mostly, Kathleen Lane. She sits on a stool. The Excursions. I met her in a doctor’s office.

The Excursions. It’s a good trip.

The Excursions are performing at The Voice Shop, 1296 N. Wishon Ave., on 3/7 at 7 p.m., and 3/8 at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in Rogue Bucks or cash.


The Road to High Street
Review by Terrance Mc Arthur

Andrew Potter spent 15 years juggling life—and clubs, and eggs, and other objects—as a street performer on a road that wound from Rhode Island to San Francisco…and even sent him to Italy and Japan. His multimedia show, The Road to High Street, details some of his exploits as half of the High Street Circus.

This is a tighter version of the show Andrew brought to the 2013 Rogue. The cool stories are all still there, and I hope he gets lots of people to see his show. He sings, he plays guitar, and he shows stills and video of his life in action…and there is some strange action, including a man on a unicycle being terrorized by a toddler.

This show is a learning experience. You will learn about how to make a home in a beer vat, why their circus was from High Street, lira exchange rates, sail boating, and how to break the language barrier with Magic Markers and skin. If Andrew has an egg allergy, you will understand why.

He delves into what “busking” is, how he got into it, why he did it, why his dad let him do it, and what he got out of it. This is a fascinating show, and you’ll be glad when you see it.

The Road to High Street is at the Spectrum Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave. Remaining shows are 3/5 at 6:30 p.m. and 3/8 at 5:15 p.m. Tickets are $5 in Rogue Bucks.


Can Death be Staid by a Catchy Chorus
Review by Terrance Mc Arthur

When bad things happen, some people deal with it with alcohol or drugs. That doesn’t work. Some people curl up into a miserable ball of isolation. That doesn’t work. Blake Jones is different. In the face of a family tragedy, he wrote, and what he wrote turned into songs, and those songs turned into a Rogue Festival show, Can Death be Staid by a Catchy Chorus? That works.

In 45 minutes, he works his way through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief…and you’ll want to sing along.

Blake Jones has played everywhere from Selma to the Cavern in Liverpool (Yeah! Where the Beatles got started!), and he has been a part of the Rogue Festival—in one capacity or another—since it all got started. He’s always fun, engaging, and worth listening to. Listen.

As a former English teacher, I have one problem with the show: the title. “Staid” means traditional, mundane, or depressingly normal. “Stayed” means delayed or held off. Hey, I shouldn’t worry about it. It’s a case of that modern disease, The Spell-Check Curse.

Can Death be Staid by a Catchy Chorus plays on the patio behind Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave, 3/6 at 6:30 p.m. and 3/7 at 9:00 p.m. Tickets are $5 in Rogue Bucks.

Editor’s note: I too saw this show and you may want to bring some tissue with you.

Check out a video interview with Blake Jones:

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.


The Agony of Living With Jaguar Bennett
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

I have seen Jaguar Bennett play many different roles on Valley stages over the last few years, and have always enjoyed his performance. So when I heard about his one man Rogue Show, it was at the top of my list to see.

While I’ve seen Jaguar be many characters, I’ve never seen him be himself. The Agony of Living is a one-man show about just that–the pain of living life. He says that the show was born out of his own life–he’s 45, not married, and not as successful as he always thought he would be. The show starts out with quips and jokes about being 45 and this being it. He goes through many stories, most being loosely based on his own life and feelings, and most with feelings many of us can relate to. Life can be very hard. But in this show as he shares his pain, he makes it funny. Not only do we laugh at his jokes, but we laugh with him as we see things from our own lives in his stories. What better way to deal with life’s struggles than through laughter.

Jaguar Bennett

I saw this show on opening night (first performance of this show ever) and there were a few rough spots, but Jaguar managed to make even his verbal stumbles and glances back to his script funny, and after a bit he hit his stride. Would love to see this show again once he’s had more chances to perform it–which is exactly what you all can do and I encourage you to do so.

Be warned this show is not a family show–there is quite a bit of sexual content, crude jokes and language–but they all are just part of the story. What I liked best about this show was the surprising direction he took it in the end. Jaguar is a part of The New Ensemble Theatre Company in Fresno and they pride themselves on doing shows that make you stop and think–and after all the laughs and self-deprecating humor, that’s exactly what Jaguar did with The Agony of Living.

The Agony of Living is on stage at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 North Fulton Ave. The remaining performances are Wednesday, March 5 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, March 8 at 9 p.m. Cost: $5 in Rogue Bucks

Enjoy this fun video interview with Jaguar:


Sinatra & Sax With Robert Hoffman
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

I have been a huge Sinatra fan for as long as I can remember, which surprises some since I’m only 47. When I saw a show coming to Rogue entitled Sinatra and Sax, well of course I was going to see that.

Robert Hoffman’s show is filled with the music of Sinatra, both sung by him and played on his saxophone. He also shares fun little tidbits about Sinatra’s life between songs. Songs include some well-known favorites like “Night and Day”, “Wee Small Hours”, “Autumn In New York” and “Nice and Easy.”

Robert Hoffman

Hoffman has a pleasant voice, and it was fun knowing all the songs and singing along in my head. The tidbits were interesting (some I knew, some I didn’t), and the numbers he did on his saxophone were beautiful. If you are looking for a show that is just relaxing and fun after seeing some of the more intense and dark shows at Rogue, Sinatra and Sax is perfect! And well if you’re a Sinatra fan like I am, you won’t want to miss it.

Sinatra & Sax is at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 North Fulton Ave. Remaining performances are Wednesday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 8 at 7:45 p.m.

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.


State Your Name for the Record
Written and performed by Amelia Ryan
Review by Heather Parish

Nearly everybody has been to an Open House at school. Either you did them when you were a kid, you’ve attended them as a parent, or if you’re a teacher, you’ve hosted them. The inventive premise of State Your Name for the Record is that of an Open House, hosted by “Mrs. Conway”- a chipper, dogged, and passionate teacher. It’s an ideal entryway into the piece because nearly everyone is familiar with the scenario, but it isn’t used often. And, for the teachers, Open House Night is a form of performance.

But the little twist on this premise is that the Open House is at the Mountain View School of Court Reporting- an unusual educational venue for most people. Through Mrs. Conway’s Open House, the audience gets a glimpse into what it takes to make a court reporter – and a little taste of Mrs. Conway’s passion for the work of the silent witnesses of life in a courtroom.

Amelia Ryan

Amelia Ryan starts off with a strong, upbeat, character with Mrs. Conway. She’s obviously a positive force and one with strong opinions, but just as she tends towards something akin to criticism of the trial system, she turns a hard right and delivers a light joke with a deft touch.

Once Ryan goes into the meat of her presentation – readings from trial transcripts – she begins to lead the audience through bits and pieces of the dark underbelly of our justice system, giving context to innocent men who were put to death and how the trial system affects a mentally ill defendant.

These are eye-opening accounts and delivered with Ryan’s considerable linguistic chops, they can be entertaining as well as heart wrenching.

But this is the first round of performances for State Your Name as an original work, which is essentially being workshopped on its feet with Rogue Performance audiences. So there are some areas of the piece that need further sculpting and the themes can be developed more clearly into a complete editorial arc. The conversation we begin with Mrs. Conway still needs to be completed. This is a work in progress in its very early stages.

One of the great things about the Rogue Festival, though, is that new work can get started and on its feet in short order. State Your Name for the Record has a lot of good ideas, some timely themes, and the beginnings of a fascinating show. If you enjoy seeing local, original work in early stages or have an interest in the courts in general, this show is definitely for you.

I, for one, would love to see this piece developed into a fully staged, 75-minute, one-woman show in the future.

State Your Name for the Record
at Venue: Neighborhood Thrift. Remaining performances are Wednesday, 3/5 8:00 p.m.,
Friday, 3/7 11:00 p.m. and Saturday, 3/8 6:30 p.m.
$10 in Rogue Bucks (purchased prior to showtime at the Tower Theater Box Office)


The Awkward Art of Flying
Review by Heather Parish

At one point during The Awkward Art of Flying, when both performers are beplumed and beribboned, groomed to become “ladies” and suddenly finding themselves competing with each other, I was reminded of a sketch by Charles Dana Gibson from the 1890s. It was called “The Rivals” and it portrayed two debutantes shaking hands politely while hiding hatchets behind their backs.

Of course in Claire Patton and Lucia Rich’s deft physical theater piece, the two debutantes devolve fairly quickly into a pair of pecking hens – before a shared female experience snaps them out of their fight to the death and restores a sense of womanly camaraderie.

Lucia Rich (left) and Claire Patton (right)

That camaraderie, as well as the intense desire for freedom and flight among women, is a running theme in this piece. Patton and Rich’s intense and adept movement work makes “Flying” thoughtful, evocative, and just plain lovely.

The actors perform in costumes of quaint bloomers, chemises, and faux corsets. In some ways this makes for a wonderful blank canvas for them to create their characters, while still showing those expressions of cliched femininity: lace and trims and ribbons. The effect of that Victorian look in contrast with their powerful, flexible, and expressive physical movement is both amusing and stunning.

Physical theater such as this may lack extensive dialogue and a concrete story arc, but the journey Patton and Rich take us on is one of feeling. Intertwining vignettes featuring primitive women, natural elements, animals, and even Amelia Earhart, the duet weaves together a web of interconnected experiences into one charming payoff. And in the process, their imagery has guided us through a host of hopeful, frustrating, ridiculous, and resonating feelings, creating a satisfying emotional arc, even where a clear-cut story may be lacking.

The Awkward Art of Flying
is a light and delicate piece of physical theater that expresses several truths of the emotional lives of women as they navigate both flight and falling.

The Awkward Art of Flying is at Strummers and their remaining performances are Friday 3/7 8 p.m. and Saturday 3/ 8 12:30 p.m.

Check out this fun video interview with Claire Patton and Lucia Rich:

Heather Parish is the founding artistic director of The New Ensemble Theater in Fresno and author of What’s My Call Time? Theater Blog. You can sign up for her e-newsletter on upcoming theater offerings in the Fresno/Visalia area at www.whatsmycalltime.com.

Super Rock n Roll Magic Show
Review by Terrance Mc Arthur

Bryan Patrick is the magician so amazing he amazes himself. That’s what he says. The real test is: Does he amaze the audience? Yep. He does. In Super Rock n Roll Magic Show, starting with a rapid-fire array of short miracles, he sets the stage for the extraordinary.

BryanPatrick


Billiard balls change size and color, and then they multiply. Things that are cut or torn are restored, large things appear from small places, and the very laws of nature are made to bend! Sounds pretty good to me. Patrick’s very face undergoes changes, and not only in the expressions that transform his face from confidence to confusion to false bravado to triumph. Nobody pulls off the “magician in trouble” character like him, and it always works out in the end.

The sheer volume of equipment and apparatus he uses in one show is astounding, but he uses it all to a rock-music background that contains some surprises. It’s not the Criss Angel or David Blaine style of magic, thankfully. It’s a cheerfully fast-paced, refreshingly silly way of spending time and Rogue Bucks. It’s Magic!

Catch the magic at Mia Cuppa, 620 E. Olive Ave, for $10 in Rogue Bucks. Remaining performances: 3/6 at 6:30 p.m., 3/7 at 8 p.m., and 3/8 at 11 a.m.


A Folk Rock Celebration
Review by Terrance Mc Arthur

Laurel Canyon in the hills of Southern California was, for a few giddy years, the center of the folk-rock universe. At the Rogue Festival, Laurel Canyon is a tight-knit trio of seasoned musicians that tap in to the souls of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and Simon & Garfunkel, and their own experiences.

Mike Alexander, Jim Rust, and Jorge Apsay, men in black (and a few blue jeans), blend their voices on such classics as “Teach Your Children Well,” “April Come She Will,” “Falling,” “Wooden Ships,” and “Me and Julio (Down by the Schoolyard),” along with trips into rockabilly and original songs (including one for a long-ago one-night stand).

LaurelCanyon

Apsay doesn’t sing as much as the others, but his contributions are notable, including an evocation of Neil Young that shivers the mind. I’ve always been impressed by Alexander’s guitar work, and Rust’s vocals are a strong part of the group’s appeal. This small group can put out some powerful music. They have chosen songs that touch the heart, stir the memories, and show off their considerable talents.

Hear Laurel Canyon at Bistro 566, 566 E. Olive Ave., for $5 in Rogue Bucks. Remaining performances: 3/2 at 7:45 p.m., and 3/8 at 5:15 p.m.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.

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