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The Fresno Bee from Fresno, California • E6

The Fresno Beei
Fresno, California
Issue Date:
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FRIDAY E6 THE FRESNO BEE-PRERUNTHE FRESNO BEE PRERUN 6 E6 Logical Page is THE FRESNO 15:15 gets toes Also, a powerful continues to evolve. By Donald Munro The Fresno Bee SAN FRANCISCO It polite to eavesdrop. But when standing in the aisle of a packed theater and Frankie Valli has decided to park right in front of you during intermis- sion to discuss with his compatriots what he thinks so far of opening night of which is the story of his rise to fame with The Four Seasons what do you want me to do? Stick cotton in my ears? Actually, comments are what expect from someone who gave his blessing to a musical-theater project that has become a smash success. complimentary. And not as if he has anything to be tense about.

The show is a hit in New York after winning the 2006 Tony Award for best musical. The national tour in San Francisco has become one of the hottest tickets in town. Producers already have extended the San Francisco run at the Curran Theatre through March 25. (Tickets cost $30 to $90; info at also scheduled to play May 25-Aug.

5 at the Ahman- son Theatre in Los Angeles.) Is all the hoopla worth it? If you grew up with Valli and The Four Seasons and have a strong affinity for the music, quite possibly. Skillfully staged, briskly acted and reasonably well sung, is more than just a standard-issue jukebox musical. Book writers Mar- shall Brickman and Rick Elice strive hard to find a compel- ling narrative in this story of a group of New Jersey toughs. Perhaps they try a little too hard. Though promised a to the rise of the Four Seasons, including their time spent in jail for petty crime and their connections to the Mafia, a feel in of wringing too much drama out of a story that always that special.

band members usually wind up arguing among themselves?) But the music, including such tunes as and Like a is so skillfully interwoven with the story that the show has a big impact. The biggest disappointment is Christopher Kale Jones as Valli, who sounds neither as pure in tone or as well in tune as Valli himself or John Lloyd Young on the Broadway cast album. He simply belt out the kind of falsetto with which Valli was able to electrify audiences. More successful is Erich Bergen as songwriter Bob Gaudio, who becomes the brains of the group, and Deven May as a blustery Tommy DeVito, the loose cannon who the stability. With their talents, this perky production has audiences saying they Take My Eyes Off Laramie In Laramie the chilling story of the aftermath of Matthew Shep- murder, a character notes that not all deaths are created equal.

Why should a law-enforcement officer who lost his life in the line of duty get less recognition or media coverage than a young man killed in gruesome fashion for being gay? The answer, which seems key to this thoughtful and arresting play continuing through Saturday at Califor- nia State University, Fresno, is this: Because some deaths take on lives of their own. Shepard became an icon the face of what happens when intolerance and hatred go unchecked. There was a reason that hordes of media invaded Laramie, in 1998 when Shepard was killed, and it just for higher ratings. The incident struck a chord with the American public, and Moises play, written with members of the Tectonic Theater Project who traveled to Laramie to interview residents, puts the reason in context. Director Brad Myers has crafted an elegant and crackling production that brings out not the grit and grime of the murder or the locale but a cleaner and colder sensibility that bores down deep within the charac- ters.

as if you can feel the chill rise off Jeff raked hardwood stage. It would be easy for this show to be overwrought. Instead, beautifully restrained. Myers used 32 cast members instead of the eight actors called for in the script, which makes it a more theatrical production than the original. The concept works.

The crowd scenes look fuller and more boisterous. something tangibly reassuring about seeing all 12 members of a jury, for example. The large cast might not leave as much to the imagination, but the power of seeing an entire community on stage has a profound impact. Standouts in the large and terrific cast include James Madeiros as a no- nonsense limousine driver, Rhiannon Fernandez as the officer first on the scene of the murder and Dana Cooper as her mother. Also key is Izzy lighting design, which alternately carves up the stage into confined, restrained areas, then cap- tures the almost scarily wide-open spaces of Wyoming where anything, unfortu- nately, can happen.

of the In a review last Friday of of the at Fresno City College, I men- tioned a cast of five. It should have been six. To paraphrase Horton the Elephant in every part is crucial, no matter how small. The reporter can be reached at or (559) 441-6373. Featuring music from THE LONG WAY Special edition package in stores now.

SHUT REVEALING LOOK AT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN POLITICS, CELEBRITY AND THE MEDIA in polarized social BIG THUMBS Stephen Holden, Richard Roeper Michael Phillips, Guest Critic, -Richard Roeper THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ONE OF THE BEST DOCUMENTARY FILMS OF THE YEAR NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW WI NER INDEPENDENT CRITERION STADIUM 16 Clovis (559) 297-3456 EXCLUSIVE ENGAGEMENT STARTS TODAY! NO PASSES ACCEPTED FOR THIS ENGAGEMENT EXPERIENCE THE MOST MAGICAL FAMILY COMEDY OF THE SEASON! Distributed by BUENA VISTA PICTURES DISTRIBUTION ENTERPRISES, INC. SEE IT NOW! MOBILE USERS: Free Showtimes Text SANTA With Your ZIP CODE To 43KIX (43549)! By Rick Bentley The Fresno Bee Polar opened two years ago on regular movie screens around town. It was a treat because the Robert Zemeckis film is such a beautiful blend of imagery, writing and music.

It deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as such movie classics as Wizard of and White and the Seven Polar already has proved that it has lasting appeal. It became a huge DVD seller. It also has been a hit when shown on network and cable television this year. But moviegoers here were cheated during the original run, because it was not shown on Imax. When the movie, based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg, was originally released, the Fresno Imax theater was not in use.

The theater reopened in June. That injustice gets righted today as Polar makes its Imax debut in Fresno. And yes, it is in 3-D. The computer-generated world of Polar Ex- inspired by the drawings in Van book, are even more brilliant in the new format. Every- thing jumps off the screen in dazzling detail, from the texture of the robe worn by the young boy who makes a trip to the North Pole to the thousands of elves who help Santa.

The trip involves a series of adventures as the occupants face peril after peril. Those scenes go from breathtaking to heart- stopping on the large screen. What was a great movie is now even better. It is not a bad thing if you have only seen Polar on a regular movie screen or on television. Even in those formats, it is nearly lawless.

The soundtrack features both a beautiful anthem for the holidays and several whimsical treats. Technology provides stun- ning visuals, but more than that. The acting also is brilliant. As hard as it my be to imagine, the film is even a bigger treat on Imax. The reporter can be reached at com or at (559) 441-6355.

For times and ticket prices for Laramie see theater listings on Page E8. MOBILE USERS: FREE SHOWTIMES TEXT DEJAVU WITH YOUR ZIP CODE TO 43KIX (43549)! United Artists BROADWAY FAIRE 10 3351 Shaw Ave Independent CRITERION STADIUM 16 1300 Shaw Ave Regal Cinemas MANCHESTER STADIUM 16 2055 Shields Edwards Theatres STADIUM 21 IMAX 7750 Blackstone Ave HIGH-OCTANE-ACTION SUSPENSE PETE HAMMOND, MAXIM HECK OF A ROLLER- COASTER THRILL BILL ZWECKER, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES I I I I OPENING DAY is TODAY! Doors swing open at 4:00 P.M. ALL NEW STATE OF THE ART THEATRE $1.00 CRITERION CINEMAS 16 All Stadium rocking chair Seating Wide, spacious aisles Ample on-site parking All Dolby digital surround sound Retractable armrests for loveseat conversion. A Fun, Safe, Family Friendly Environment! Independently Owned Locally Operated. Web (G) 4:15, 5:00, 5:45, 6:30, 7:15, 8:00, 8:45, 9:30, 10:15 Pursuit of Happyness (PG-13) 4:30, 5:00, 5:30, 7:05, 7:35, 8:05, 9:40, 10:10, 10:40 Shut Up and Sing (R) 4:00, 7:40, 10:30 For Your Consideration (PG-13) 5:40, 7:50, 10:00 Fast Food Nation (R) 4:40, 7:10, 9:45 The Departed (R) 7:00, 10:05 Casino Royale (PG) 7:20, 10:20 Santa Clause 3 (G) 4:05, 6:45, 9:15 Deja Vu (PG-13) 6:55, 9:45 Flushed Away (PG) 4:10 Guadalupe (PG) 6:50, 9:50 CRITERION ART The Queen (PG-13) 7:30, 10:25 Keeping Mum (R) 4:50, 7:25, 9:55 Imax makes all that it can be THEATER COMMENTARY page E6 the fresno bee WEEKEND friday, december 15, 2006

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