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Broadway in Fresno at the Saroyan Theatre

Oct 25, 2018 09:00AM ● By Jordan Venema

On the Rise

November 2018
Story by Jordan Venema
Photos by Jeremy Daniel, Joan Marcus, and courtesy of Broadway in Fresno

ESSENTIALLY SYNONYMOUS with New York, Broadway has roots in the city dating back to 1750, when Thomas Kean and Walter Murray opened a theater company on Nassau Street. For more than 250 years, Broadway has produced the biggest shows and the most grandiose musicals, but theatregoers don’t have to travel to the Big Apple to get a glimpse of the big stage. Its run may be a bit shorter than Broadway’s 250 years in New York, but this year marks Broadway in Fresno’s 25th season, and this year it really promises to start with a roar. 

On November 28, Broadway in Fresno continues its 2018-19 season with “The Lion King,” the winner of six Tony Awards, including best musical. After that, the Saroyan Theatre in Fresno’s Convention Center will host Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” in January, “Rent” in February, “Wicked” in March and conclude with “Something Rotten!” in April. 

Though part of the convention center, the Saroyan Theatre can seat 2,300 guests, and according to Broadway Across America spokeswoman Brittany Smith, “The Saroyan Theatre is what we call full-scale, premium theatre.” 

And a premium theatre deserves high quality actors and productions, which is exactly what Broadway in Fresno brings to the stage. 

“We’re really proud to bring these full-scale shows to Fresno five or six times a year,” continues Smith. “And you don’t have to worry about the hassle of traveling or the price of Broadway.” 

According to Smith, the shows produced for Broadway in Fresno are the only Broadway-scale shows in the area. 

“People will be really happy with the quality of the show,” Smith says. “They’re full-scale, really lavish sets and costumes, and the music is the same, as well as the choreography and direction. You’re really going to get the experience of Broadway in Fresno, and it’s a much more accessible way to see shows in your own backyard.”

Tickets for “The Lion King” are now on sale and range between $39 and $119 a ticket. A season subscription, which includes a ticket to each show excluding “Wicked,” starts at $140.

“Depending on the day of the week and where you’re seated, the subscription package can range anywhere from $140 for all four season shows to $320 for the top ticket price for what we call the prime performances, which includes Friday night, Saturday matinee, Saturday night and Sunday matinee,” says Smith.

Not only is Broadway in Fresno bringing theater and culture to Fresno, but the productions are also an opportunity for creating local work.

“We hire local stagehands, and the series employs a lot of people behind the scenes, like hair and makeup and wardrobe, as well as staffing at the convention center,” says Smith. 

Ultimately, these plays are bringing classic and new Broadway to the local stage. The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning “Rent” is on its 20th year anniversary tour. “Something Rotten!” is a recent hit about two brothers in 1595 who set out to write the world’s very first musical. • • (888) 255-9363

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