by Lorie Lewis Ham
2012 has been an exciting year for Valley theatre. We have seen Valley premiere’s of shows like Next To Normal, Avenue Q, Spring Awakening and Ordinary Days. Fun classic shows like Fiddler On The Roof and Singin’ In The Rain. Fun newer shows like The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Thought provoking shows like Assassins and Baptized To The Bone, and family friendly shows like Beauty and the Beast and A Year With Frog and Toad.
The quality of theatre in the Valley continues to amaze me. The talent in this Valley is amazing! I was blown away by Daniel Hernandez and Dominic Grijalva’s dancing in Singin’ In The Rain (Roger Rocka’s), Terry Lewis‘ wonderful voice in Ordinary Days (OTF) and A Little Night Music (StageWorks Fresno), I was introduced to the beautiful voice of Brian Pucheu for the first time in Rocky Horror (Artist’s Repertory Theatre), and will be closing out my year of theatre seeing him in Rent (Cali-Pub).
It’s exciting to see so much young talent in the Valley. The entire cast of Spring Awakening (CMT) was incredible and the show was moving, though I was sad that it was Ben McNamara’s last show in the Valley. Bryce Moser’s acting and singing in Jekyll & Hyde (CMT) was amazing. I enjoyed Cody Bianci’s beautiful voice in his many different roles I saw him in this year. Taylor Abels was a joy to watch and listen to in her many shows, and is another one I will be sad to see leaving this Valley. It was also wonderful for me as a parent to watch my daughter, Jessica Ham, in her first real lead role since high school as Belle in Beauty and the Beast (RCTC) (she was understudy for 5 performances)—I was so proud, and she too will be leaving us next year for New York.
There have been way too many incredible performances to mention them all–but if I was at your show, know I thank all of you for creating such wonderful art in 2012, and as a reader feel free to check all of our reviews and previews from 2012 in the Arts & Entertainment section of KRL.
I had the pleasure of following the Visalia Community Players production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, directed by Corey Ralston, from beginning to end with articles and video interviews. I saw this show go from the first rehearsals to a polished, fun, show with talented performers.
Next to Normal is one of my favorite shows and StageWorks Fresno did it perfectly.
Jekyll & Hyde, Spring Awakening and Ordinary Days have become three of my new favorite musicals. And Godspell, as presented by Reedley River City, was one of the most moving musicals of the year–and I think one of the best things RCTC has ever done. Their production of Beauty and the Beast was also fun and left me singing the songs for weeks. Being one of the few people on earth to never have seen the Rocky Horror Show (Artists’ Repertory Theatre), I finally saw it this year and it was one of the funest evenings of theatre I have ever had. Reedley High School produced an original play called 30 Minutes Til Curtain, written by one of its students, D.J. Reimer, which was very well done.
Unable to make it to everything myself–other KRL reviewers Terrance Mc Arthur, Heather Parish and Corey Ralston enjoyed many shows that I wish I could have seen. Terrance loved Assassins (Fresno State) and had a blast seeing Louise Mandrell in Calamity Jane at Roger Rocka’s, among many others of their shows, and enjoyed some fun children’s theatre at the Enchanted Playhouse in Visalia. Heather and Corey covered some of the shows presented at COS, and Heather wrote about The Elephant Man at Fresno State.
I loved so many shows this year it would be impossible to pick just one favorite! If you missed all of the wonderful theatre in the Valley in 2012, make attending local theatre the top of your New Year’s resolutions. This Valley is incredibly blessed with more talent than I have room to write about! Check out our look at theatre in 2013 in Saturday’s issue for a heads up on just a little of what’s coming your way and keep an eye on KRL throughout the year for reviews, previews, event pages and article about local theatre.
Editor’s note: While I noticed after the fact that I failed to mention very many directors–none of these great shows would have happened without wonderful directors! So hat’s off to all of them as well.