by Lorie Lewis Ham
This has been a great year for theatre in the Valley! I’ve been blessed to have had the chance to enjoy a great deal of it, and KRL has reviewed and previewed even more—from the more serious thought provoking plays produced by new company The New Ensemble, to fun musicals like Grease at Reedley River City and the Valley premiere of Legally Blonde at Roger Rocka’s.
Fresno, Visalia, Reedley and Hanford are all blessed with some great theatre companies, both professional and community, and some top notch local high school and college productions as well. Clovis West High School put on an incredible production of Phantom of the Opera as did College of the Sequoias in Visalia. Reedley High School presented a fun and talent filled production of the classic Annie, and their production of Servant of Two Masters had people laughing in the aisles.
StageWorks Fresno, another of the new companies in town, put on some wonderful musicals such as Ragtime and The Light In the Piazza, showcasing some of the Valley’s top talents. And Fresno’s Organic Theater Factory finally returned to the theatre scene with one of my favorites of the year, Glory Days.
I saw my first Kings Players production in Hanford, The Graduate, and enjoyed some Sinatra at Visalia Community Player’s production of My Way. Reedley’s River City Theatre Company presented some classics like Grease and White Christmas, along with the latest original Fanny show, Super Fanny. Another new small town theatre company that had its first full season was E & e Performing Arts Center in Kingsburg.
And we mustn’t forget near the beginning of the year the Rogue Festival in Fresno which was filled with an interesting bunch of performances of all kinds. I was not able to attend this year, but KRL was represented by several of our other writers who reviewed a number of their shows.Good Company Players not only brought Legally Blonde to Fresno but also the Valley premiere of The Drowsy Chaperone—another of my favorites this year. Emily Pessano and Daniel Hernandez were incredible. Their 2nd Space Theatre brought classics like The Crucible and the hilarious Born Yesterday, which featured two more of my GCP favorites, Danielle Jorn and Eric Orum (he was also in The Crucible).
No theatre year would have been complete for me without seeing on stage one of my all time top favorite actors in this area, Peter Allwine. Not only did I get to see him in The Wedding Singer at Roger Rocka’s, but also in my favorite musical Rent, that made it’s Valley premiere this summer and was produced in Visalia by Fourth Wall. This production of Rent also featured Danielle as Maureen. Rent would have to be my absolute highlight of an incredible year of theatre!
I haven’t begun to mention all of the shows that filled local venues in 2011, and this is just a taste of the wonderful productions that hit the stage. If you missed them, grab your coat and don’t miss out on another year of theatre. Make your New Year’s resolution to attend and support local theatre in 2012. I can’t wait to see what’s coming! To give you just a hint, Next To Normal will be having its Valley premiere, another Fanny show will hit the stage in Reedley this February, and a lot of other great shows are coming as well!
Be sure and check back here at KRL for local theatre listings & reviews in 2012!