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Rogue Reviews 2016

IN THE March 6 ISSUE

FROM THE 2016 Articles,
andArts & Entertainment,
andLorie Lewis Ham,
andMallory Moad
SECTIONS

by Terrance Mc Arthur,
Mallory Moad, Sarah Peterson,
& Lorie Lewis Ham

rogue

The Muse for Rogue 2016

Throughout the week we will be posting reviews here 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. We will also be posting some performer video interviews on our YouTube Channel. So far we have reviews of HEART in the HOOD, Breakneck Hamlet, Sentimental Journey, Two for the Road, Barnacle: A Salty Love Story, The Jekyll and Hyde of Teaching, Unsolved Mysteries , Daring Divas, Mysterium, Art: Why Do We Bother?, Apocalypse Songs, SHEnatra!, NOCO’s Life of a Houseplant, Is Your Therapist Near A Bakery?, Juggle This! , Echoes of White Thunder, Bullshit Is My Native Language, Damn Fine Magic, Les Kurkendaal—Terror on the High Seas, Red Hot Mama, a Sophie Tucker Cabaret, Boomshakalaka, Play It Like Virgil, and Black Wool Jacket.

You can purchase tickets to all of these shows at the door or online: www.roguefestival.com/2016performers


HEART in the HOOD
Review by Lorie Ham

My last show of this year’s Rogue Festival is another newbie to Rogue, HEART in the HOOD with Michael Sommers.

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Michael Sommers

In HEART in the HOOD Michael shares about the community that he lives in, and gives the audience a peek at the colorful characters in his neighborhood and a feel for why he loves it there. Michael shares parts of his story through song–singing with a bluesy, soulful voice and playing the harmonica. The rest of his story is acted out with Michael playing 17 different characters.

The stories are sweet, moving, sad, and at times funny. As Michael says, he lives in “the hood,” a place many people would never consider visiting let alone living in–and yet Michael takes the audience on a trip there that makes you see that world in a whole new light. A beautiful light.

This show touches your heart, and makes you think–one of my favorite kinds of shows. There are two more chances to see HEART in the HOOD at Fulton Street Art–Saturday, March 12 at 12:30 and 5:30 p.m. Don’t miss it!

Video Interview With Michael:

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic 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.


Breakneck Hamlet
Review by Mallory Moad

Breakneck Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1: The audience sees a goblet, a skull and a chair draped in scarlet. The stage may appear bare, but in Timothy Mooney’s energetic, one-man show, it is never empty.

Breakneck Hamlet isn’t a Monty Python-esque parody or a frenzied race against time like The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (Abridged). Although it moves along at a fast clip and contains plenty of humorous moments, it is much more grounded and true to the original material than it’s cartoonish counterparts. Timothy Mooney takes this famous dramatic work and breaks it down without turning it into Hamlet For Dummies. He tells the story without the excess baggage.

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Timothy Mooney in BREAKNECK HAMLET!

Mooney impressively portrays ten key characters. They are easily identified by simple but distinct traits – a tremorous hand, a manner of speaking, an attitude – which were taken from clues hidden in the dialogue. His face and body are expressive without being over-the-top (suggestion: watch his eyes). There are no goofy accents or costume changes, just one man’s talent, skill and enthusiasm.

All the famous words are here and with Mooney’s recitation, they finally make sense. He slips from narration to soliloquy with an ease that makes the difference between the two unrecognizable. Lacking fellow performers, speeches are delivered directly to members of the audience. I suggest you not sit in the front row if making eye contact with performers makes you uncomfortable.

You know, I never cared much for Hamlet and maybe you feel the same way. It’s long, the plot is complicated and the character of Hamlet is annoying. But tonight my opinion was changed in 45 minutes. It could happen to you, too.

Breakneck Hamlet will be performed on Saturday, March 12 at 2:00 p.m. And 5:00 p.m. at Fresno Soap Co.

Mallory Moad is a visual/performance artist, vocalist in the jazz band Scats on The Sly and a proud Central San Joaquin Valley native.


Sentimental Journey
Review by Terrance McArthur

Some of the greatest music of the Big Band era was made by all-girl trios. If you could bring back that music, it would take angelic help. Luckily, The Voice Shop has the Heavenly Trio to enliven Sentimental Journey: 8 to the Bar in Boogie Rhythm at 1296 N. Wishon Ave.

The Trio—Debbie Terry, Debi Ruud, and Jean Lane—easily slip into the styles and costumes of the McGuire Sisters and the Andrews Sisters. The singers are presented by Clarence, a guardian angel (borrowed from It’s a Wonderful Life), who looks a lot like Chuck Carson, and spends time telling ribald stories/jokes about George Burns and Jack Benny.Rogue

The jokes are fun, but the reason for seeing Sentimental Journey is the music—and oh, what music! “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Sentimental Journey,” “Sincerely,” “Sugartime,” “Bei Mir Bistu Shein,” “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” and “Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy,” and more.

Terry, Ruud, and Lane are smooth, harmonize effortlessly, and look like they are in their happy places when they sing. If you want blasts from the past that wrap you in sweet memories of a simpler time, Sentimental Journey is the show for you. Act fast, because their last show is Friday, March 11, at 6:30 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.


Two for the Road
Review by Terrance McArthur

Your attention, please!

Saturday, March 12 at 12:30 p.m. is your last chance to see Two for the Road at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton St. You have been warned.

Two for the Road is Donn Beedle on violin and viola, and Karana Hattersley-Drayton on keyboards. At other times, they are half of the Celtic band Pipe on the Hob. As TFTR, Scottish and Irish music are often on the bill, but their playlist can veer off into country, swing, and bluegrass, with occasional trips into the strange and quirky…in a good way.rogue

Donn can trip the light fantastic with his fingers on the strings. Karana sets up a bouncy underpinning for the music, and her singing has a haunting quality, as if whalesongs turned into operatic coloratura arias. Together, the music rolls out to cuddle the audience in a comforter of memories.

Donn has a dry wit that slides depth charges into their song intros, to explode without notice, causing your brain to think, “Oh! That’s what he said. That was funny. I’d better laugh.”

Two for the Road may not get the press that some of the out-of-town Rogue Festival acts get, and they don’t stir up controversy, like other local groups, but they offer solid musicianship and a repertoire that is a mini musical appreciation course in forty-five minutes.

This is your final warning.

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.


Barnacle: A Salty Love Story
Review by Joshua Taylor

Claire Patton is a damn genius.

Last year she came to Rogue with a quirky, zany show about a middle school student obsessed with Napoleon Bonaparte. The show, A Girl’s Guide to War, was great fun and gave every audience member a huge smile. In it, we saw Patton’s gifts for physical comedy and simple storytelling. This year, she builds on those, but adds her most impressive gift yet – a warm, beating heart.

She returns to Rogue to premier a new piece, Barnacle: A Salty Love Story. The year is 2046. Climate change has ravaged the planet, and human life is approaching unsustainable. We need a new place to live.

Scientists recommend the bottom of the ocean. They send a biologist, Travis, down there to see if it’s inhabitable. He’s been down there for four years now, and his wife has been stuck on land. Penny goes out every night to stare out at the water from her cliffside cottage, awaiting her love’s return.rogue

And that’s all I’m going to tell you about the plot.

Most fringe shows are about the very act of storytelling. They’re about pushing the boundaries of how we can and cannot tell stories. How many characters can an actor play? How can we use light and sound to convey unreality? What’s the strangest prop/costume design we can pull off without alienating the audience?

These are what fringe shows are usually about. You don’t often get one that’s just about the story. And that’s what we have here.

Not to say that Patton doesn’t experiment. She creates a maelstrom from a piece of fabric; she falls off a cliff in slow motion; she has multiple shadow puppetry interludes. In her most audacious move, she plays out an argument between the central couple twice – once from each side. But she is always at the service of the story. To understand how rare that is, is to understand how important this show is.

Patton has always been a master storyteller. But now she has finally found a story worthy of her skill. Two lovers torn apart by nature give her the perfect backdrop to touch on the greatest and most universal of human themes: faith, loneliness, and love. And she even manages to weave in some politics and existentialism, too.

I cried. As the lights faded, tears streamed down my cheeks. And not because the ending is melancholy, which it is. But because it is also hopeful. I always respond to hope. Rhett breaking up with Scarlett doesn’t make me cry; Scarlett vowing that tomorrow is another day makes me cry. E.T. dying doesn’t affect me; Elliot bringing him back to life does. It isn’t Isla leaving Rick that brings us tears; it’s Rick letting her go for the betterment of the world that brings on the waterworks.

Through the show, we slowly come to understand the point Patton is making: in this moment, we are alive. At some point in the future, we won’t be. So what do we do in the meantime?

Enjoy it.

Barnacle: A Salty Love Story’s remaining performances are March 11 at 8:30 p.m. and March 12 at 2:30 p.m. at Cal Arts Academy, 1401 N. Wishon.


The Jekyll and Hyde of Teaching
Review by Mallory Moad

Miss Day is a teacher. Miss Day has been a teacher for a long, long time. Just about anyone in this profession will tell you it can eventually drive a person cuckoo. In The Jekyll and Hyde of Teaching, Jayne Day, a.k.a. Airplanejayne, takes the insanity to the stage.

Calling this a one-woman show isn’t entirely accurate. Jayne is assisted in the telling of her adventures – and misadventures – in the classroom by her evil twin, her dark side personified. With severe cat-eyed glasses and a Rosanne Barr-like shriek, this devious doppelganger spews the words we’d all like to say but are too nice/under control/afraid of losing our jobs to really speak aloud. No one is safe from this harpy, not students, not co-workers, not enabling parents. The distinction between “good” and “bad” Miss Day is as clear as a school bell.rogue

Jayne uses props and sight gags to augment her humor. This is especially effective during a sequence on teaching vocabulary words. A hilarious bit involving a sex toy near the beginning of the show was equally funny when the object in question made a re-appearance. The pacing of the production is good. Jayne knows when to give the audience a break from the outrage and let her gentle side shine. Not all her stories are side-splitting. She reigns in the craziness to tell us about a favorite student who became a success in life in spite of hardship and personal tragedy. In a sweet moment, her defense against an accusation of racism is punctuated with a kiss from her real-life boyfriend (I won’t give away the visual punchline by revealing his identity). Tales about teaching are broken up with related anecdotes about her family, particularly her brother, Jason. We were assured he was not in attendance, which is probably a good thing.

I saw The Jekyll and Hyde of Teaching as a reflection of Airplanejayne’s real life: loving, committed teacher by day and ballsy, in-your-face comedian by night. Miss Day may be a very good teacher but Miss Day is an excellent performer.

The Jeckyll and Hyde of Teaching will be performed again at Mia Cuppa Caffee on Friday, March 11 at 9:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 12 at 8:00 p.m.

Mallory Moad is a visual/performance artist, vocalist in the jazz band Scats on The Sly and a proud Central San Joaquin Valley native.


Daring Divas
Review by Terrance McArthur

The Rogue Festival is a showcase for professional and local performers, a testing ground for new material, and a place to catch new and rising acts. At the Spectrum Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave., C’est La Vie Arts presents Daring Divas, three very, very young women singing songs by Adele, One Direction, Ariana Grande, Rhianna, Taylor Swift, and others.

Trained by Allison Boriack, Haley Huntley (13 years old), Sierra Gordines (15), and Jessica Kaufman (15) put their hearts behind the music and sing one for the angels. Haley and Sierra have good tone in their numbers, and Jessica has strong enunciation on a song by Adele.book

The show is evolving in the Spectrum Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave., as it adapts to the building, which is very unforgiving for singers. Using a microphone causes the sound to reverb and overwhelm, while mikeless singers risk having the sound absorbed by the walls. These teens should be appreciated for their efforts and heard for their good qualities. Give them a listen.

The Daring Divas will sing for two more shows, Friday, March 11 at 7:45 p.m., and Saturday, March 12 at 8 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.


Unsolved Mysteries
Review by Terrance McArthur

I have a sentimental favorite at the Rogue, one show I always try to see: the Ananka Dance Company. Belly dancers.
Every year, I go down to Dianna’s Studio of Dance, 826 North Fulton Street, to see what they have to offer. This year, it’s Unsolved Mysteries. What do strange sounds in New Mexico, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, Lizzie Borden, a warrior-queen of Britain, and spontaneous human combustion have to do with belly dancing? You’d be surprised.

rogueOne thing that sets the Ananka dancers apart from other companies is a sense of humor. Chugging sounds near Taos inspired a number based on railroad engineer outfits. TC (Anne Todd Cortez) dances as Lizzie Borden with a bloodied axe balanced on her head. The Cinder Woman’s bursting into flames is represented by fans and waving fabric, which manages to be graceful, elegant, and hilariously funny, all at the same time. Karen Petryna manages to dance alluringly while surrounded with a light-flashing Flying Saucer. An old Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs song gives Jennifer Hernandez and Debi Arthur a chance to dance as the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood. Rebecca Digerness is towering in her strutting as Boudika Warrior. Emma Haring is fluid in her movements related to the lost city of Atlantis. The entire cast succumbs to a Dancing Plague that may have inspired Hans Christian Andersen’s The Red Shoes. Have you ever seen Scotland’s Nessie dance? You will.

The queen of the Ananka troupe has always been Ely Buffin, producing, directing, and conceiving the show. Not content with those roles, she dances, too. Ely becomes a catlike creature that terrorized London, and her lost space alien shoots ray gun sounds at every hip-bump and twirl.

The thing I like the most about the Ananka troupe is its diversity, even though that is a word that usually makes me cringe. In this case, it is about real bodies. These aren’t exotic Barbie shapes causing men’s hearts to pound. These are normal women of differing sizes and shapes enjoying healthy exercise, and you can concentrate on the training that makes those moves possible. I tell people that this group is the only set of belly dancers I can watch without feeling guilty or embarrassed.

Final shows for Unsolved Mysteries are Friday, March 11 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, March 12 at 6:30 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.


Mysterium
Review by Terrance McArthur

This is a good year for magic at the Rogue. Christopher Bange and Tim Mannix are yukking it up at The Voice Shop, Kyle Elder is filling the house at the Spectrum Gallery, and at Dianna’s Studio of Dance……there’s Mysterium.

Keith Boudreau and Erica Valen create a dark, what’s-going-to-happen atmosphere, a full-stage illusion show with a minimum of props. Talk about the show to someone else who has seen it, and they’ll say, “I didn’t see that;” each performance features different effects. I didn’t see levitation; another person didn’t see pickpocketing. rogue

Keith and Erica have an otherworldly quality. Are the eyes too large, the smiles too knowing, the teeth too sharp? Clad in clothing of the past, they slowly, carefully lead the audience into twilight zones of bizarre magic, where one person is touched and another feels it, where a hand always lands on the bag without the broken glass, where a card travels from where you put it to across the room.

There are still traditional skills of the magician’s art—the coins multiplying, disappearing, and moving, the cards fanning, falling, and reappearing—but it’s the strange and unusual parts of the evening that will stay with you, that will seem like……magic.

Mysterium finishes its run at Dianna’s Studio of Dance, 826 North Fulton Street, with performances Friday, March 11 at 9:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 12 at 5 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.


Art: Why Do We Bother?
Review by Terrance McArthur

Blake Jones is many of the reasons people go to the Fresno Rogue Festival, where he has performed and volunteered for all of its fifteen years.
• He’s local.
• Every year, his show is different from the one before it.
• His shows are unusual (How many people do you know that can play the theremin?).
• His show only costs $5.

Blake’s shows have dealt with urban sprawl, music that doesn’t rock, and the death of a loved one, not to mention raising money for tours of Europe for his band, The Trike Shop. This year, he tackles the question Art: Why Do We Bother?

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Blake Jones

In his search for an answer, he seeks enlightenment from such disparate sources as neurologist Oliver Sacks, Valley farmer David Mas Masumoto, and President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Blake says, “This is the only rock show that comes with a bibliography.” He talks about the purposes and effects of the arts, and punctuates the conversation with a half-dozen songs, including four new ones.

Blake is not an imposing person. He looks like a music teacher. In the rain, he resembles a mild-mannered Joe Cocker. He is confident that his audience will stay with him and go where he goes, even if he turns the show over to an audience member to “entertain them” with a giant rubber ducky.

Does he find the answer to his question?

The journey is the discovery.

Art: Why Do We Bother? has its final performances Wednesday (3/9) at 6:30 p.m. and Friday (3/11) at 7:45 p.m. on the patio behind Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton St.

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.


Apocalypse Songs
Review by Terrance Mc Arthur

Imagine the late folksinger Pete Seeger, plus all three of the Limeliters, divided by David Bowie. That’s what you get in Apocalypse Songs, Aaron J. Shay’s science fiction/rock/folk Rogue Festival show at the Spectrum Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave.

A poet-musician, sent on a mission to discover alternate universes, never returned. A future grad student, armed with banjo, ukulele, and the captain’s logs of the ill-fated mission, endeavors to uncover what happened to the multiverse-naut. Sharing his discoveries with a university class (the audience), the young man goes on virtual journeys to see worlds of destruction, repression, and hope. The planet even gets inundated, becoming a home for the kraken.rogue

Shay is cheerful, gentle, jaunty, and filled with wonder at what he finds. His sound is reminiscent of the 60’s folk revival, with touches of rock. He can be soft and gentle, or fill the Spectrum Gallery with reverberation…without a microphone.

It’s not a traditional musical, nor are they average songs, yet it all ties together in a way that would make sense if you were a professor of quantum mechanics. You can catch Apocalypse Songs Thursday, March 10 at 7:45 p.m. and Friday, March 11 at 9 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.


SHEnatra!
Review by Terrance McArthur

The place is Purgatory, where souls labor to scrub away the impurities that would keep them from entering Heaven. The subjects of this study are two Rat Pack womanizers, late of this earth. God, in Her whimsical way, has placed them in female bodies, and given them a cabaret show in front of an audience/jury to decide if they should go Up or Down to a warmer place…and I’m not talking about Las Vegas. That is the idea behind SHEnatra!, playing at Mia Cuppa Café, 620 E. Olive Avenue.

Donna Kay Yarborough is Frank SHEnatra: dour, self-important, and a male chauvinist pig. Sadie Bowman is Dame Martin: boozy, laid-back, and a male chauvinist pig. To make the show’s musical magic happen, Fresno’s Nate Butler commands the piano like a one-man Nelson Riddle Orchestra. The songs are the stalwarts of the Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin catalogs, but with some subtle—and a lot of not-so-subtle—twists.rogue

As the old skirt-chasers deal with their newfound feminine forms, lyrics become parodies of themselves. “Witchcraft” gets B-fuddled. Martin looks back on his interactions with women as “Everybody Is Offensive Sometime.” “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” becomes a cry of fear of a biological clock running out, “Chuck Me a Baby Tonight.” Their smoking prompts “The Girl from Emphysema.” They’re singing their hearts out. What will be the verdict on their eternal destination?

Yarborough has mastered Sinatra’s later style and attitude, even getting a solid handle on the sound. Bowman’s Martin is a looser interpretation of the character, but so was Dean’s. Frankie and Dean are familiar, but “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” (Wait! That’s Sophie Tucker! Wrong show.) The dialogue is not meant for children’s ears. It’s raucous, racy fun, and it might even raise your consciousness.

SHEnatra can be seen Thursday, March 10 at 9:30 p.m., Friday, March 11 at 8 p.m., and Saturday, March 12 at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

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.


NOCO’s Life of a Houseplant
Review by Sarah A. Peterson

FresNO Dance COllective (NOCO) brought the greenery to life with its 2016 Rogue Festival offering Life of a Houseplant.

Plants of all kinds, green tendrils dangling, adorned the dance floor in planters and giant pots, while an olive-hued armchair rested atop a fluffy pistachio shag rug.

The performances were divided into four “conversations” narrated by one of the dancers, drawing on different aspects of plant life (such as “Sprout,” “Overwater,” “Wilt,” “Root,” and “Prune”) and how they each relate to life beyond the garden. rogue

Performers in neutral tones writhed across the dance space like creeping vines, whirling and leaping amid objects you’d find in your backyard: a bucket, a watering can, a wicker chair wreathed in ivy. The lighting was a swirl of primary colors, accenting the emotions on display in each set.

Particularly moving was a piece in which a dancer grows out of a barrel-size bucket as streams of water descend on her from a watering can. She reaches upward until the weight of the liquid drags her back down, and she must fight her way back up.

Like last year’s Acts of Affordable Care, philosophical questions abound in Life of a Houseplant, asking its audience to engage their minds as well as their eyeballs.

NOCO’s Life of a Houseplant has two more performances in store for Rogue-goers, Friday, March 11, at 10 p.m., and Saturday, March 12 at 11:30 a.m., at the California Arts Academy in Fresno’s Tower District (1401 N. Wishon). Tickets are $10.

For more information on FresNO Dance COllective, please visit www.nocodance.org. And more on the 2016 Rogue Festival can be found at www.roguefestival.com.

Sarah A. Petersonis a library assistant with Fresno County Library, with a Bachelor’s in English and a Bachelor’s in Journalism from California State University, Fresno. In her free time, she makes soap and jewelry that she sells at Fresno-area craft fairs. She has written for The Clovis Roundup and the Central California Paranormal Investigators (CCPI) Newsletter.


Is Your Therapist Near A Bakery?
Review by Lorie Ham

One reason I love the Rogue Festival is because you see shows here you would never see anywhere else–people tackle difficult subjects in fun, interesting, and informative ways. That is exactly what happens in Is Your Therapist Near A Bakery?

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Susan Gill

Is Your Therapist Near A Bakery? is Susan Gill’s one-woman show where she shares about her family’s history of mental illness. She is bold, funny, and honest. She shares of a time when you kept those sorts of things hidden–where the stigma was even worse than it is today. Some of her stories are just plain funny as she shares about how she was the “normal” one in her family, and how she has strived to have a mentally stable family of her own–you will laugh when you hear what happened when her ten-year-old son informed her he wanted to go to therapy. And of course, what’s better than your therapist being near a bakery? But she also shares about her experiences with those in her family who were mentally ill and how it affected her, and her need for therapy as well. There are sad and disturbing stories here of attempted suicide and sexual abuse, and yet she presents them in such a way as to not be awkward. She makes you laugh and maybe even cry with her as she shares her journey with mental illness in her family.

I’ve always felt the best way to do away with mental illness stigma is just to be honest and share, and that’s what she has done here in a wonderful and entertaining, while thoughtful, way. This is not a family show, but it is an honest one you won’t want to miss!

The remaining performances are on March 10 at 9 p.m. and March 12 at 3 p.m. at Fulton Street Art, 1118 North Fulton Street in Fresno. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door or online.

Video Interview With Susan Gill:

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic 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.


Juggle This! with StevenWeven
Review by Mallory Moad

StevenWeven is not StevenWeven’s real name. I know what it is because I saw Juggle This! with StevenWeven, in which that piece of personal trivia is revealed.

That is just one of a number of goofy, light-hearted stories award-winning juggler, StevenWeven, shares in this wacky production. In his first time as a Rogue Festival performer, StevenWeven combines sight gags, tall tales and audience participation in a chaotic one-man circus that’s a kick in the pants. And while there isn’t as much actual juggling as I had anticipated, it’s impressive. During a routine in which he juggled 5 balls, his technique made it appear as though he had grown extra arms.rogue

Unlike some circus/magic acts I have seen in the past, StevenWeven’s use of humor and audience participation doesn’t stoop to insults. His nutty jokes aren’t intended to be abusive or mocking. Punch lines are punctuated by the hoots and honks of horns distributed to audience members, making him, at times, the target of his own silliness. We were lead in a series of “coordination exercises” that gradually became impossible for everyone in the room to accomplish, including the show’s star. Working alongside a volunteer in an impersonation of a certain wild animal, both suffered an attack of the giggles over the ridiculousness of the situation.

StevenWeven has a winning, class-clown personality. He’s like the oddball kid down the street who reads Mad Magazine and listens to weird music. StevenWeven isn’t his real name, but his secret’s safe with me.

Juggle This! with StevenWeven is rated PG. Small kids might not be able to keep up with tempo of this fast-paced presentation but older kids would probably enjoy the show for the same reason.

Performances of Juggle This! With StevenWeven are on Wednesday, March 9 at 9:30 p.m and Saturday, March 11 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. at Diana’s Studio of Dance.

Mallory Moad is a visual/performance artist, vocalist in the jazz band Scats on The Sly and a proud Central San Joaquin Valley native.


Echoes of White Thunder
Review by Mallory Moad

The integrity of a performer can be judged by his/her response to a small audience. Singer-songwriter, Charles Tenney, a.k.a. White Thunder (a name earned by his strong voice) recently performed his charming and witty one-man show, Echoes of White Thunder to a group of six with the same enthusiasm he would have shown to a full house. The man’s a pro.

Echoes of White Thunder is casual, with a feeling of hanging out with an old friend. Charles shares his love of music and songwriting though his songs, as well as stories about creating them. These personal anecdotes are neither too long nor too short, providing just enough insight without giving anything away.rogue

Charles’s work is best described as contemporary folk and covers a wide range of subjects. “Mary, Sue And Me” tells the story of an alternative relationship, complete with a happy ending; “Friend In The Box” is a parable about the dangers of social networking with a conclusion that’s not so cheerful. The show had plenty of humorous moments. We were all in stitches over the clever and hilarious “My Man Makes Sweet Cornbread,” a blues number in the style of Bob Dylan that was loaded with naughty double-entendres. Instrumental covers of two tunes by Jorma Kalkaunen (of Hot Tuna fame) demonstrated White Thunder’s impressive technique as a finger-style guitarist.

I admire any performer who has the nerve to get up in front of an audience and go it alone. Being able to get the audience on your side from the beginning requires a whole other set of skills. White Thunder won this group over with his self-confidence, sense of humor, skill and easy-going vocal style.

Echoes Of White Thunder performs again on Friday, March 11 at 10:15 p.m. and Saturday, March 12 at 1:45 p.m.

Mallory Moad is a visual/performance artist, vocalist in the jazz band Scats on The Sly and a proud Central San Joaquin Valley native.


Bullshit Is My Native Language
Review by Mallory Moad

Jaguar Bennett is messing with my brain.

In B******t Is My Native Language, comedian Jaguar Bennett exposes the truth behind advertising and public relations campaigns. Or does he? As a real-life PR man, Jaguar lies for a living – a lot – or so he says. To call this production thought-provoking is an understatement. It’s more like thought-scrambling. It is part truth and part the stretching of it. And boy, is it ever a hoot!

Jaguar has a very compelling stage presence. In his black-framed glasses, dark suit and red power tie, he looks the part of a classic public relations executive. Is this an example of the manipulation of public opinion, the very topic of this production? His delivery is persuasive and convincing, with a sneaky, snaky, sly sophistication. He can make the word “halitosis” sound as if it had just emerged from the depths of hell. rogue

No one is safe in this exposé. Not the tobacco industry, not the makers of soft drinks, not the news media, not the NRA, not even the Rogue Festival. With his wicked, razor-sharp sense of humor, Jaguar reveals how advertising has power over all our lives. There’s a scary, serious side to this point of view but his dry wit prevents the show, or the audience, from descending into despair. As he says, “People don’t understand facts but they understand stories.” He knows how to pull our strings and gleefully string us along. Wait, am I falling under some kind of PR voodoo spell?

Jaguar concludes his show with the ludicrous suggestion that marketing will be the savior of a planet that is being destroyed by the out-of-control consumerism of its human inhabitants. Or not. B******t is, after all, his native language.

B******t Is My Native Language will be performed on Thursday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 12 at 1:45 p.m. at Veni Vidi Vici.

Video Interview With Jaguar Bennett:

Mallory Moad is a visual/performance artist, vocalist in the jazz band Scats on The Sly and a proud Central San Joaquin Valley native.


Damn Fine Magic
Review by Terrance McArthur

Take two accomplished stage magicians, make them face off, and what do you get? Damn Fine Magic, that’s what, playing at The Voice Shop, 1296 N. Wishon Ave.

Christopher Bange has amazed and insulted Rogue audiences for several years. Tim Mannix performs in the Valley from festivals to libraries. Together, they make for an entertaining escape from the outside world.

Each section of the show opens with a magical duel to an old Spaghetti Western tune, with Bange and Mannix playing “Can You Top This?” and trying to outdo each other with crazy magic tricks. The winner gets to do the next part of the show.rogue

Bange is a master of the prestidigitator’s equivalent of Don Rickles’ comedy. He is abrasive and vindictive, but he really isn’t going to hurt anybody. He responds to the audience vibe, growing more coarse with adult audiences that get him going. He berates people for not holding up their end of the magic, belittles them, and doesn’t care about their feelings…and the crowd roars for more.

Mannix is a jolly fellow, friendly and outgoing. He trots out old magic routines and still manages to fool us, because that’s what we want a magician to do.

Together, they are slightly awkward, gently grating, and thoroughly entertaining.

Remaining performances are Wednesday, March 9 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 12 at 6:30 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.


Les Kurkendaal—Terror on the High Seas
Review by Terrance McArthur

Could you survive an Alaska cruise with your husband’s/wife’s/boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s family? Les Kurkendaal did, and he takes us along in Terror on the High Seas at Mia Cuppa Café, 620 E. Olive Avenue.

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Les Kurkendaal

Trapped into joining the trip to Heck on a ship that isn’t his idea of The Love Boat with his boyfriend’s family, Les endures the forced family cocktail parties, escapes for every off-ship excursion offered and discovers others with a special bond, and takes umbrage when he is assumed to be cruise staff more than once because he is African-American.

Les is one of the jewels of the Rogue Festival crown, a gifted storyteller who brings out universal truths in his personal stories. He takes over the Mia Cuppa stage for an hour as if he owns it, and for that time…he does. The characters he describes may be bombastic, bigoted, brainless at times, and born in Bakersfield, but they have a humanity that cannot be denied, and they are sure to make you think of someone you know.

Remaining performances are Wednesday, March 9 at 9:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 12 at 3:30 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.


Red Hot Mama: a Sophie Tucker Cabaret
Review by Terrance McArthur

Sophie Tucker—A Russian-Jewish American headliner for half of the twentieth century, singer, comedienne, and the originator of most of Bette Midler’s “Soph” jokes.

Melanie Gall—A Canadian import who wowed the Rogue with Edith Piaf songs and WWI knitting ditties.

Put together, it’s Red Hot Mama, a Sophie Tucker Cabaret, performed by Gall at Mia Cuppa Café, 620 E. Olive Avenue.

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Melanie Gall

Built on a framework of Tucker’s life story, Gall fleshes it out with Tucker’s risqué jokes and signature songs, and OH, what songs! “Red Hot Mama,” “I Don’t Want to Be Thin,” “Fifty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong,” “Some of These Days,” “My Yiddishe Mama,” “Making Wiki Waki Down in Waikiki.” Tucker had a big, brassy voice before Ethel Merman.

Melanie is possessed of an operatic voice, deft comedy timing, and a love for Sophie Tucker’s legacy. She captures much of the style, the sass, and the humor that made her a star, kicked off the Ziegfeld Follies because the leading ladies were jealous of her popularity. During previous Rogue visits to Fresno, she talked about her plans for a Tucker tribute. Now it’s here, and you really should see it.

Remaining performances are Wednesday, March 9 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m.

Video Interview With Melanie Gail:

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.


Boomshakalaka
Review by Mallory Moad

Megill & Company’s Boomshakalaka, is about rhythm, character, joy and stories. But the rhythm is the glue that holds everything together in this exuberant, sometimes hilarious, celebration of life.

The show opens slowly with a sense of mystery as six female dancers move in an almost mechanical way under moody, blue lighting. Musical accompaniment includes toy piano and layers of voices that may or may not be speaking a recognized human language. My first reaction, that this was going to be an exhibition of dated, oh-so-serious modern dance was dispelled in one “gotcha!” moment.rogue

The lights came up and we were off on a rollicking exploration of – here it comes again – rhythm. For the first couple to take the stage, it became a game of one-upmanship and for a trio of primadonnas, a source of snarky competition. A piece that began as a joke about the inability to clap on the beat morphed into a joyful ensemble piece about individuality.

Boomshakalaka is filled with a childlike innocence and much of the choreography is reminiscent of playground games. Two girlfriends greet each other with the most complicated secret handshake in history. The ensemble walks like penguins and falls on their backs on the ground, arms and legs waving in the air. Faces and voices play as important a role as bodies.

It’s important to mention that the charismatic Beth Megill is extremely pregnant and makes effective use of her appearance. She’s comical in a wild tap dance to a brass band arrangement of “Sexual Healing” and in a stunning piece with three other women she’s beauty in motion. Leading the company and audience in a call-and-response, she was absolutely adorable.

Don’t miss Boomshakalaka if you follow the work of Megill And Company. If you’re fond of contemporary dance in general, you’ll most likely enjoy this show. If you don’t fit into either category, I suggest taking a chance. You might have a change of heart and leave with a smile on your face like I did.

Boomshakalaka is rated PG. Small children probably won’t be able to sit through the 55-minute production but older kids would probably enjoy it, especially if they are interested in dance.

Boomshakalaka has upcoming performances at California Arts Academy on Saturday, March 12 at 1:00 and 7:00 p.m.

Mallory Moad is a visual/performance artist, vocalist in the jazz band Scats on The Sly and a proud Central San Joaquin Valley native.


Play It Like Virgil
Review by Mallory Moad

Leave it to Tony Imperatrice to make me care about a musician I’d never heard of. His original one-man show, Play It Like Virgil is a combination biography, history lesson, personal anecdotes and concert. There are no whistles and bells in Play It Like Virgil. It’s just Tony Imperatrice, an organ and the recorded words of organist, Virgil Fox.

It’s possible you’ve never heard of Virgil Fox, either. According to Tony, Fox was “one of the most unique and powerful musicians of the 20th century.” Tony is also an organist and the discovery of the music of Virgil Fox has been a major influence on his musical choices. The life of Virgil Fox, however, has provided inspiration. That’s what Play It Like Virgil is all about.

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Tony Imperatirce

The five Bach compositions interspersed within the show allow Tony to demonstrate his musical ability and he begins with a thunderous rendition of “Toccata in D Minor.” You might not recognize the title but you’ll know it when you hear it. Beginning with such a well-known piece gives the audience a feeling of familiarity. It’s a pretty smart move when you consider the majority of us don’t know much about the subject matter. Tony plays with his back to the audience and although his face isn’t visible, we can clearly see his feet. Keep an eye on his footwork, especially during the tricky “Fugue A La Gigue.”

There is a warmth and gentleness in Tony’s storytelling style that I found to be a welcome diversion from some of the more manic presentations frequently found in the Rogue Festival. The stories come from his heart and are told with affection. He’s not performing for us, he is sharing with us.

In the opening of the show, Virgil Fox tells us, “I am determined that this shall not be a stuffy occasion,” an accurate description of this intimate, entertaining production.

Play It Like Virgil will be performed again on Wednesday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m. and Friday, March 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the California Arts Academy.

Mallory Moad is a visual/performance artist, vocalist in the jazz band Scats on The Sly and a proud Central San Joaquin Valley native.


Black Wool Jacket
Review by Lorie Ham

This seems to be my year of discovering newbies at the Rogue Festival. Black Wool Jacket is Nat Vickers’s first ever show as the person on stage instead of behind the scenes. After seeing this show, I hope we see her here again next year!

In Black Wool Jacket, Nat shares interesting, funny, and crazy stories of her time working as a coat check girl at a nightclub in Canada. You wouldn’t believe the things she saw and heard while doing what she had expected to be a simple, mindless job she could do while she worked on her dissertation about circus elephants, but boy was she wrong. It’s amazing the things people will share with a perfect stranger, and how people behave over a simple black wool jacket. And since it’s in Canada, she handled a TON of Black Wool Jacket’s every cold night. Rogue

Here is a snippet from the preview article she wrote for KRL-
The first time a nightclub patron lost their coat check ticket on my watch, he looked me straight in the eyes, smiled innocently, and snarled, “Listen. If you don’t find my coat right now, I will come back there, and turn you into a coat, got it?!”

While most of the stories are hilarious, one about a red jacket takes a very serious turn. Natalie also shares some interesting stories about her coworkers who are a crazy group of characters. And along the way we are treated to some interesting tidbits about elephants-so it’s not only fun but educational!

Nat is sweet, funny, adorable, and a joy to watch perform! If you are looking for a show that puts a spotlight on how crazy our world is, and that will have you laughing non-stop, don’t miss Black Wool Jacket.

You can also check out Nat’s performer preview article, and watch for our video interview with her on our YouTube channel.

Tickets to Black Wool Jacket are $10. The show will be at Mia Cuppa Caffe’. Remaining dates and times are: Sunday, March 6th @ 5 p.m.; Thursday, March 10th @ 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 12th @ 2 p.m.

At: Mia Cuppa Caffe’
620 E Olive Ave, Fresno, CA 93728
(559) 499-1844

Video Interview with Nat:

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic 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.

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