by Lorie Lewis Ham
Last Thursday I had the privilege of being at the opening night of [title of show], produced by StageWorks Fresno. When I first heard about this show, I had to admit I was unfamiliar with it. I can now say it’s one of the most clever and funny shows I have ever seen! I haven’t laughed so much in a long time.
[title of show] tells the story of two young writers, Jeff and Hunter, who decide to enter a musical theater festival but they only have three weeks to write a show. Along with the help of three of their friends-Susan, Heidi and Larry-they decide to create something new that they as a group will perform. Basically, this is a show that tells the story of how they wrote [title of show] and everything that happened along the way.
Being a fan of musical theater, the multitude of references to various shows and actors were a lot of fun. But you don’t have to be a fan of musical theater to love this show. The witty dialogue had the audience constantly laughing, and yet the show still managed to incorporate the anguish and tension that can come about when pursuing one’s creative dreams.
I found the music in this show somewhat reminiscent of my favorite musical, Rent. However, it’s the whole package that grabs you and won’t let go—it’s the story that pulls you in, makes you laugh, and inspires you. The young talent in this show-Benjamin McNamara (Jeff), Taylor Babcock (Hunter), Taylor Abels (Heidi), Hayley Galbraith (Susan), and Laurie King (as Mary, instead of Larry)-are all top notch.
[title of show] is the first production of StageWorks Fresno, run by Joel Abels, who directed the show. Originally from this area, Joel has been living in New York but recently decided that he wanted to become more bi-coastal with his work since he still has strong ties to Fresno. The show itself also has local ties in that the original Heidi in the show, Heidi Blickinstaff, is from Fresno as well.
As to why he picked this show to launch his new company, Joel stated that he loved this show when he first saw it off Broadway four years ago. “It really speaks to my personal journey and where I am in my life right now. Never giving up. If you want change in your life, you have everything within you to make that happen. Everyone can take something from this show and apply it to their own life.”
StageWorks just announced their 2011 season, which includes The Light In The Piazza, Beauty and the Beast, Jr., and Ragtime, The Musical. Not only will most of their shows be ones that have never been produced in Fresno, Joel also plans to start incorporating professionals in the industry (members of Actor’s Equity) into their productions.
If you love musical theater, or just love a great story with a ton of laughs, don’t miss [title of show]. There are only a few performances left:
Thursday, September 30 @ 8:30 p.m.
Friday, October 1 @ 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 2 @ 2:00 & 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 3 @ 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 3 @ 7:30
California ARTS Academy-Severance
1401 N. Wishon Ave.
Fresno, CA 93728
General Admission Seating
Tickets may be purchased at the door or from Brown Paper Tickets
Box office opens 1 hour prior to curtain.
Seating begins 30 minutes prior to curtain.
This show is not suitable for younger audiences. Due to strong language, parental guidance is recommended for those under 13.
For more info and to keep up with StageWorks Fresno, go to their website. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.
Watch for another Local Live next Wednesday!