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G R A M MY W I N N E R ! 2 0 1 4 B E S T WO R L D MUS I C A L B UM

The a cappella vocal group from South Africa made famous by their collaboration with Paul Simon on the album Graceland. ONE PERFORMANCE ONLY

Thursday, March 6, 2014 | 7:30 p.m. The Art Kamangar Center at the Merced Theatre 301 W. Main Street, Merced FOR TICKETS AND INFORMATION

t: 209-381-0500 | w: arts.ucmerced.edu | e: arts@ucmerced.edu


Contents Film Series

See the schedule for the UC Merced Humran Rights Film Series Page 11

The Players PUBLISHER: Tom Price tom@thedlm.com CONTENT EDITOR: Theresa Hong theresa@thedlm.com WEB GURU: Kenneth Nelson kenneth@thedlm.com

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS & EDITORS: Brittany Miller, Scott Hernandez-Jason, Susanne French, Theresa Hong, Amber Kirby and Montse Reyes. CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER: Dan Hong, Brittany Miller, Ian Davis.

Black Arts

Conference focuses on efforts of members of the Black Arts Movement Page 12

The Cover COVER: Dating in Merced

Sign of Times

Local business restores Downtown symbol, and hope for the future

PHOTOGRAPHER: Dan Hong MODEL: Merced’s Most Eligible Bachelor Christopher Casuga

Page 14

Singles

Tales from the trenches of Merced’s crowded dating scene Page 16

Ladysmith

Issue 47 Volume 3

Grammy Award winners Ladysmith Black Mambazo in Merced Page 24

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C THE CALENDAR www.thedlm.com/events

February 14

February 15 Masquerave

Kewl Kats

What: Valentine’s Day Masquerave Time: 9 p.m. Location: The Partisan Info: partisanmerced.com

What: Original members of 415 take the stage Time: 9 p.m. Location Kewl Cats Info: Facebok

February 21

February 21

Good Luck

Vagina Monologues

What: Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit Time: 9 p.m. Locatoin: The Partisan Info: Partisanmerced.com

Time: Feb. 21-22 7:30 p.m. Feb 23 at 2 p.m. Location: UC Merced COB 102 Info: Facebook

February 22 Irish Fest

February 28-March 16 Shrek

What: Evening of song and dance Time: 7:30 p.m. Location: Hi-Midpines Yosemite Bug Rustic Resort Info: Facebook

March 1-2

What: Shrek the Musical opens (through Mar 16) Time: 7:30 p.m. Location: Playhouse Merced Info: Facebook

March 2 Conference What: Black Arts Movement Conference Time: See times online Location: The Partisan Info: Facebook

Oscars What: Oscar viewing party fundraiser Time: 4 p.m. Location: Merced Theatre Info: Facebook


© 2014 License 0358327

Doing Business Right Over 100 Years 725 W. 18th Street, Merced (209) 722-1541 • fandb1912.com


S SHORTS

Merced College Art Gallery UC Merced Human Rights Film Series

Contributed work

Merced College Art Gallery presents Roxene Rockwell

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erced College Art Gallery presents an exhibition of acrylic paintings by Los Angeles artist Roxene Rockwell. This exhibition opens February 26 and continues through March 20, 2014. The public is invited to a reception for the artist. This event will be held February 26, 6:00- 7:30 p.m. Free parking is available. Rockwell, a painter, creates her reoccurring subject, fantasy trees. She is

not interested in painting an actual oak or maple tree; her trees don’t have botanical names. Her interest is in the similarity of trees to humans, no two are alike. Her interest lies in the movement, the shape and the stillness of a tree. Like human arms, tree branches reach out and seem to

whisper or talk in the wind. Rockwell’s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibits around the country. Her work is collected and shown in private and public collections. The Art Gallery is located in the Theater Building at Merced College. Gallery Hours are MondayThursday 9:30-11:30am and noon to 2 p.m. Visits may be arranged at other times by calling Susanne French, Art Gallery Coordinator at 209-384-6064.


©2013 Latrobe Brewing Co., 10 Rolling Rock® Beer, St. Louis, MO


UC Merced

Human Rights Film Series The following films are shown free and are open to the public as part of UC Merced’s annual Human Rights Film Series. Films start at 7 pm in Classroom and Office Building (COB) 105.

February 14

Rafea: Solar Mama

Rafea is a Bedouin woman who lives with her daughters in one of Jordan’s poorest desert villages on the Iraqi border. When she is selected for an intriguing program called the Barefoot College in India, Rafea doesn’t need to think twice, and travels to join 30 illiterate women from different countries to train to become solar engineers over the course of six months. Rafea immediately understands that she has a unique opportunity to give her children a better future and to provide the whole village with solar power.

February 21

The Naked Option (with writer, producer, director Candace Schermerhorn in person)

Fueled by the determination for a better future, grassroots women in Nigeria’s Niger Delta use the threat of stripping naked in public, a serious cultural taboo, in a deadly struggle to hold oil companies accountable to the communities in which they operate. The women, at the risk of being raped, beaten or killed, are trained and armed, but not with anything you can see.

February 28

My Afghanistan: Life in the Forbidden Zone

Nagieb Kaja, a Danish journalist of Afghan origin, travels to Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmland province in Afghanistan. Because journalists are not able to move safely outside the capital, contact with the civilian population in rural areas is almost impossible. But Khaja has a trick up his sleeve. He gives people living in outlying communities mobile phones equipped with cameras and asks them to film their daily lives, providing a rare glimpse into the war-torn existence of ordinary Afghans. THEDLM.COM

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BLACK ARTS

MOVEMENT UC Merced home to two-day conference featuring scholars, musicians, artists from the 1960 and 1970s movement

Photo by Ian Davis K.E.V. from the hip hop duo Nu Dekades will be among those participating in the UC Merced Black Arts Movement Conference 12


An international two-day conference on the Black Arts Movement will draw world-renowned scholars, musicians and artists, and offer new scholarship and perspectives on the 1960s and 1970s movement. The International Conference on the Black Arts Movement and Legacies, on March 1 and 2 at the University of California, Merced, will provide opportunities to hear and appreciate the elders, activists and artists who proclaimed “black is beautiful” in their art, music, poetry and writings, while also shedding light on recent assessments of

emeritus. Askia Toure, Ishmael Reed, Marvin X, Eugene Redmond, Umar Bin Hassan, Nathan Hare, Emory Douglas, Judy Juanita, Avotcja and other key writers, musicians and artists from the Black Arts and Black Power movements will discuss their work and perform at the conference. “No discussion of the Black Arts Movement or the radical left can take place without mentioning the late Amiri Baraka,” said event organizer and UC Merced graduate student Kim McMillon. “His words and art represent the beginnings of the movement, birthing

“The Black Arts Movement and this UC Merced Conference comprise one whopping piece long missing from the jigsaw puzzle of cultural America.” Al Young, California’s poet laureate

the movement. “UC Merced is excited to contribute to the growing body of scholarship on the Black Arts Movement,” said Professor Susan Amussen, who’s also the director of the Center for the Humanities. “We look forward both to the presence of so many outstanding artists on campus and to the exploration of the impact of this important movement on mainstream American culture.” Scholarly panels, poetry, art, theatre presentations and workshops on a wide variety of topics from the state of black studies in America to the impact of the Black Arts Movement past and present are on the agenda. “The Black Arts Movement and this UC Merced Conference comprise one whopping piece long missing from the jigsaw puzzle of cultural America,” said Al Young, California’s poet laureate

black identity. Black Americans in the 1960s and 1970s created a new vision of blackness, one that celebrated the uniqueness of black culture.” Black Arts inspired many later artists, especially those from marginalized communities, and thus has shaped the flowering of artistic work over the past 40 years, McMillon said. The conference is co-sponsored by Associated Students of UC Merced, African Diaspora Student Association, the Center for the Humanities, Merced County Arts Council, Merced County Office of Education, Office of Student Life and The California Endowment. The conference is free for UC Merced students and Merced County youth, and $40 for the general public. To register or for more information about the conference, email Kim McMillon atkmcmillon@ucmerced.edu or go online. THEDLM.COM

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Sign for the Times

Company restores historic Downtown sign and brings back classic aesthetic on Main Street

Words by Brittany Miller brittany@thedlm.com

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ark Bynum’s hands are constantly moving while he speaks, the tar under his fingernails illustrating the hard work necessary for what he does. 14


“2009 was a really hard year for everybody, and the people that survived 2009 probably had to go to extremes to do so.” — Mark Bynum, on importance of restoring MLK Street’s 7-Up sign

He works for Valley Sign and Crane, and acts as a sort of keeper to many of Merced’s most historic signs. He also was a central figure in one of the company’s greatest endeavors: the restoration of Main Street’s 7-Up sign. Bynum first encountered the landmark when he was working for Neon Signs. It was during the first Gulf War that he was commissioned to put over the billboard a banner which read “Give ‘em Hell Castle Air Force Base.” The sign was already in a state of disrepair; the neon lights no longer functioned, and the chipped and faded paint alluded to its lack of care. Bynum was surprised by the amount of feedback he received about the banner. Until that point he had been unaware of just how visible the sign was. Flash forward to 2004. Robert Abbate, the owner of the then new company Valley Sign and Crane, approached Bynum with an idea. He wanted to find a way to send a message to the community, to distinguish themselves as a company that does not stand outside of the people they serve, but stands among them. It was around this same time that the Merced Theater was undergoing its own restoration. Watching the theater go through the process helped provide Bynum and Abbate with insight into what they wanted from their own project. “They restored it differently than I wanted to restore it. They did what’s called a ‘resto-mod’- they restored it to modern day standards, but I wanted to restore it to the standards it was built to.” The 7-Up sign, erected after WWII, originally stood above Ham’s Merced Family Restaurant. After many different owners, the same location now houses

Marie’s Mexican Kitchen. During the 1950s the sign was immediately visible to patrons exiting the Merced Theater. After a half century’s worth of decay, the sign brought a mixed reaction from the community. Some found the sign to be endearingly rustic, while others saw it as a sign of defeat, a symbol of a far larger abandonment. Valley Sign and Crane saw an opportunity, not just for themselves but for the city. “2009 was a really hard year for everybody, and the people that survived 2009 probably had to go to extremes to do so.” Bynum explained that the defeated atmosphere only helped motivate the completion of the project. At a time when the area was still struggling to stay above water, Abbate and Bynum committed to complete the restoration. The restoration was a far more complicated operation than applying a fresh coat of paint. All of the analog components had to be replaced with digital components. When Bynum explains the details of the restoration, his smile widens the more he delves into the details of the work involved. He speaks of lighting with a level of respect usually reserved for traditional fine arts. He beams with pride when he explains the complexities of adapting older signs to modern standards. “It’s the oldest form of animation, and obviously, mechanically, I’d say the most difficult,” says Bynum. The project had a goal that went beyond mere physical repair. Bynum wanted to restore the feeling from walking out of the theater and seeing the sign illuminated, to remind the city that they are cared for, especially at a time when so many felt forgotten. THEDLM.COM

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Tales from trenches of Merced’s crowded dating scene by some of the cities most eligible bachelor’s and bachelorette’s

D at e l e s s a n d Fancy-Fre e Words by Christopher Casuga chris.casuga@gmail.com

Please note: The opinions presented in this article are of the author alone and not necessarily of The Downtown Life Magazine, also the author is an awkward weirdo who identifies as the male Liz Lemon and thus, his opinions should be taken with enough salt to induce acute hypertension. THEDLM.COM

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T

here was a time in my life when I didn’t have to worry about this shit. Dating? Pfft. I was in a long-term relationship with my college sweetheart for four years, and every time a friend would fret about the dating game and its peculiarities, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Whew. Thank goodness I dodged that bullet.” Well, years went by, people change, plans flesh out and evolve. Much as my girlfriend and I loved and cared about each other, our individual goals were naturally moving us apart. We broke up amicably and to this day remain best friends, but as I settled into singularity, the realization crept in that after four years in a relationship, I had no earthly way of navigating the dating world without looking like a total pud. Compounded with the fact that I’m already a neurotic, anxious mess, and the fact that Merced is between a rock and a hard place for burgeoning relationships, and I’ve been stuck in a dry spell that has lasted for longer than expected. ••• “But Kazoo, you’re such a funny, charming and adorable guy! Why are you still single?” is the clarion call of all my friends who find it ridiculous that I’m not dating anybody. Sadly enough, it’s not all that ridiculous to me, and I’m also pretty sure it’s all my fault. I already mentioned that I’m a neurotic, anxious mess, right? Well, here’s how it goes for me: 1. Take forever and a half to work up the courage to ask a lady out 2. Get too excited if she says yes and let my guard down 3. Lady gets reticent when it’s apparent that I’m into her more than she’s into me 4. Freak out about lady’s reticence and annoy housemates by listening to “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia on repeat 5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the inevitable Feelings Talk occurs and we agree to stop seeing each other and stay friends, or she just drops off the face of the Earth It’s an awful, vicious cycle, and yet it’s 18

my default mode. You know that line in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind where Joel asks “Why do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the least bit of attention?” Yup. That’s me. Nice to meet you. There is another side to my difficulties in dating, though — I live in Merced. ••• In Merced, there are two things that people hold onto for dear life if they’ve got them: jobs and relationships. You’re anxious to all hell if you’re trying to find one, the process is grueling and nervewracking, and there’s going to be a lot


more people disappointed than satisfied. But if you land that job or find someone who agrees to be your Significant Other, congratulations! The “hard part” is mercifully over, but said “hard part” is so much harder if there’s a drought of job opportunities or single people to go around. Yes, in my time here I’ve ran into and befriended some of the coolest and most unique people whom I could ever meet. The problem? They’re probably already dating each other. The infrastructure is definitely here: a rockin’ nightlife, a fresh batch of people from the UC every year or so, and cool new businesses opening up every so often. But nothing’s jelled to the point to where there’s a reliable, accessible group of single people to try out new things

account has been disproportionately subjected to a deluge of the absolute worst messages from the absolute worst dregs of humanity this side of the male gender simply for being a woman on the Internet. On behalf of my gender, I apologize.) --I hope I’ve shed some light on the current situation that is being single in Merced, as well as shared way too much about my personal foibles that will probably bite me in the ass at some unspecified point in the future. The other anecdotes contained here will provide other wonderful dimensions to this shithouse clusterfuck of a dating scene, and will also be more accurate since they’ve got to be infinitely more socially adept than I am.

I asked her out and got promptly shot down because “she didn’t find me attractive” (which split the difference between incredible tactlessness and refreshing honesty) with. And for the few of us in the club, it’s frustrating knowing that if you screw up, not only does your already tiny dating pool shrink ever-so-slightly, the fact that everybody knows everybody in this town means your walks along Main Street get more awkward when your dating situation inevitably implodes. What about dating on the internet? Maybe that will fare better! Eh. OKCupid is really only good for telling you your best matches are at least a two-hour drive away, although sometimes it makes for amusing anecdotes, like this one — a mutual friend once introduced me to a lady at a kickback. I asked her out and got promptly shot down because “she didn’t find me attractive” (which split the difference between incredible tactlessness and refreshing honesty). I didn’t realize until the day after that she was the same girl whom I had messaged on OKCupid six months prior and from whom I never got a reply. Isn’t serendipity neat? (Also, literally every female friend I have who has an OKCupid

All things said, I haven’t yet completely given up hope (though writing this article may condemn me to never going on another date as long as I live here). Dating, especially here but also especially elsewhere, is an arduous and protracted process and its lowest points will have you doubting your faith in yourself, the opposite gender, and humanity at large. But the more you give it a chance, the more you try to learn from your mistakes, and the more honest you are about your intentions, the better it gets. Of course, once you’re out of the “dating” fire and into the “relationship” frying pan that’s a whole new bag of quirks and frustrations, but hey, one battle at a time. Now if you excuse me, I’ve got separate 30 Rock and West Wing marathons on NetFlix to attend to. Happy Valentine’s Day, no one! Christopher Casuga is the live sound engineer for The Partisan Tavern as well as lead singer and guitar-slinger in the rock band Feeling Gravity’s Pull. If it wasn’t apparent at all in the course of this article, he’s single.


The Virtual Haircut Date — Tanisha

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eing single in Merced and dating in Merced...hmm. I guess it’s like shooting into a bucket with not very many fish. Upon firing into the bucket, you only scare up the fish with three eyes or the really awkward fish.

... he wanted me to listen to something called “The Virtual Haircut.” All that I could hear on the recording was the sounds of a barbershop. I’m not really a fan of barbershop sounds ...

The actual reason behind the fish being in the bucket and the shooting into the bucket doesn’t really matter. What matters is the fish themselves and figuring out the reasons behind the scarcity of quality. One gentleman that I went on a date with a couple times, let’s call him C. C and I were connected via a popular dating site. Our first date held a usual awkwardness, and I thought that it was just nerves. . . I wish that were actually correct. Our second date was the epitome of weird. We were supposed to go to a farmer’s market in Ceres and upon arrival, he switched to wanting to go to the one in Merced, which isn’t open on Sundays. He then needed to get groceries, so we went to get those. I needed to pick up a couple things at the time, and when we went to the checkout, he had an outright fit demanding to paying for my items because it would “make him feel more comfortable.” I refused as many times as I could, until we were holding up a bunch of people and I just conceded. We went to Coffee Bandits to regroup and he told me he suddenly felt ill . . . so ill that he couldn’t possibly drive his car, so he had me drive it to my house. After that weirdness, he wanted me to listen to

something called “The Virtual Haircut.” All that I could hear on the recording was the sounds of a barbershop. I’m not really a fan of barbershop sounds, so I listened to it on the ear buds he had brought with him(specifically for the purpose of my listening) and I just kind of shrugged as I listened. I didn’t notice that he had come closer until he was close to my face whispering “You’re not closing your eyes.” At this point in the day, I was done and freaked out by this crazy person. I was going to make the play to try to get him out of my house, and he pulls out the line “You don’t text me back very much, that’s not good for a healthy relationship.” Relationship?!! We didn’t even really have a friendship (which I firmly let him know). I promptly asked him to take his Virtual Haircut and leave from my presence, and he actually agreed without too much conflict. I guess the very strange consolation prize to all this ridiculous was the two boxes of CDs he wanted me to have (which he left near my door). A series of unfortunate craziness, but at least I got some ABBA out of it right?

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What DLM Readers say about dating in Merced

Being single in Merced is actually pretty cool, minus the dating part. When single, and ready to mingle, you will find a good amount of places to relax and get yourself “into the mix” so to speak. On top of this plethora of establishments, the local community tries to have events frequently, which turns areas like Downtown into a mixing pot of grand proportions. These events range in nature, usually produce an array of things to do, and definitely a vast gamut of individuals that come out to enjoy the festivities. —Aric I was single in Merced for a long time and the joke with my other single girlfriends is that we have standards: The must be employed, not married and have teeth! We were in the 40 to 50 age group. Glad I met my guy when he first moved to Merced! ­— Mary

I think I’ve probably dated more women in this town than anyone else, or at least the average Merced male. Whether it be serious, casual, or just a “fling.” And, tho ugh, I must say that recently I dated nationally since I traveled, Merced women remain extremely unique. ­— Chris

I actually have dated very few people from Merced, though it is not for lack of trying. I feel my challenge is that I am an outlier in this region: a liberal atheist. I find it hard to meet new people that I do not work with. Most of those people are already partnered up. — Stacey THEDLM.COM

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Contributed Photo Grammy Award winning a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo will be performing at 7:30 p.m. at the Merced Theatre. For more information visit, tickets.mercedtheatre.org.

Grammy Award winnners to take Merced Theatre stage Words by Tom Price tom@thedlm.com

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t the heart of everything Ladysmith Black Mambazo does there is joy. It is the root of their music, it is the bond that binds the band and it is the element that has wowed music lovers across the globe for nearly four decades. 24

The South African, 10-piece a cappella group nabbed its fourth Grammy award on Jan. 26 for its album, “Singing For Peace Around the World.” The collection of live performances was a favorite of former South African President Nelson Mandella who died on Dec. 5. “Wow, I never felt like that before. We were so happy screaming running up the


aisles. Even now it still feels like a dream,” says Albert Mazibuko, one of the group’s founding members. “When we think about the album and former president Mandella, it has been his favorite. That’s why we dedicated the album to him. The Grammy is also dedicated to him.” The group, which was propelled to stardom with its collaboration with Paul Simon on 1986’s “Graceland,” will be performing on March 6 at the Merced Theatre. Produced by Arts UC Merced, it is a performance series organized by UC staffers that is open to students, faculty and the entire community. “We have a ‘wouldn’t-it-beamazing-if’ list and Ladysmith Black Mambazo was at the top. They seemed totally out of reach but we asked anyway,” says Gail Benedict, director of Arts UC Merced. “Timing is everything. We asked at a time when they were in the middle of booking their U.S. tour and they were able to fit us in. The magic formula for us has been naivete mixed with luck.” Good luck seems to be the group’s hallmark. Mazibuko tells a story about being asked to play a party in which Mandella was in attendance. They were told they likely wouldn’t see the political leader because he would be cloaked by security. Mazibuko says they were on stage singing, when suddenly there was a lot of commotion and security guards dashing into action. The leader had joined them on stage. “He just walked straight to us and joined us on stage and danced with us. He stood in front of us. He was so tall and he said ‘your music has been great inspiration for me. Everywhere I go I want to be with me,’” recalls Mazibuko. He invited us to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and on his inauguration he wanted us to sit right with him.” The group’s latest album, “Always

UC arts organization celebrates five years

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ach year the stunning list of performers booked by Arts UC Merced Presents ... grows and grows. From the Whiffenpoofs to the Lula Washington Dance Company to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and now Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the group has set the bar high for local productions. Since 2008, the group has produced more than 52 events for students, faculty and the community, serving more than 20,000 audience members. “Collaboration is our secret. Various departments on campus have been very generous is helping us,” says the program director Gail Benedict. “We also have some very dedicated student interns who have been there every step of the way in supporting our efforts.” Benedict, who started the production team with her colleague Dunya Ramicova, says the group plays a major role in achieving the UC system’s mission of teaching, research and public service. “The UC presence in the community is not just very important, it’s essential,” says Benedict. “One of the main purposes for Arts UC Merced Presents is to support the idea that the arts not only entertain, but educate and enrich. It is our responsibility to share with our surrounding community.” THEDLM.COM

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“Wow, I never felt like hat before. We were so happy screaming running up the aisles. Even now it still feels like a dream.” — Albert Mazibuko,

on winning a fourth Grammy Award With Us,” is yet another personal yet joyful collection of music. Ladysmith’s leader Joseph Shabalala pays tribute to his late wife Nellie by remastering recordings of her vocals while performing with another group before her death in 2002 and combining them with the music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. “It was emotional at the beginning as we are singing and hearing her voice,” Mazibuko. “We knew this has to be very good. This woman has been very important to us. She will stay with us in our hearts and in our spirits.” Mazibuko says the album has been taken a tremendous amount of time to complete, with sound technicians painstankingly blending the old recordings with the group’s current and modern recordings. “It took about two years to finish everything,” he says. “There wasn’t even a master recording, they did amazing job it sounds so wonderful.” Mazibuko describes the music as uplifting music for the everyday man or woman in his native country. He says it’s about the importance of family and carrying on the family name and staying focused and being a better person. In regard to performing at the 1,200-seat Merced Theatre, Mazibuko says the show will be an intimate performance. “There is nothing like seeing people up close,” he says. “When you see people that close, if feels like I am singing to them. Like I am connected.” Tickets for the show are $15 to $35 depending on seat location and can be purchased at tickets.mercedtheatre.org or by calling the box office at 209-381-0500. Doors for the show open at 7:30 p.m. 26


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Photo by Dan Hong Playhouse Merced musical director Rob Hypes day dreams while surrounded by elaborate costumes for the theater’s upcoming production of Shrek, which opens Feb. 28.

Shrek sings! Playhouse Merced musical promises fun for all ages

Words by Theresa Hong theresa@thedlm.com

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hat do you get when you partner a mean, green ogre, a happy-go-lucky donkey, a beautiful princess, a lord with a Napoleon complex and a myriad of old, has-been fairy tale characters who tell their stories through song and dance? Shrek the Musical — a story that explores the sometimes odd circumstances of love, friendship, hope and happiness. 28


Written by David LindseyAbair and Jeanine Tesori, Shrek the Musical opens on the Playhouse Merced stage Feb. 28 and stars Stephen Mouillesseaux as Shrek, Rachel Pearrer as Fiona, GB Blackmon III as Donkey and Joe Hypes as Lord Farquaad. Directed by Playhouse Merced Artistic Director Rob Hypes and Music Director Joel Scott Shade, and choreographed by Corey Strauss, “Shrek the Musical” is a family-friendly

Man, the Three Little Pigs, Humpty Dumpty, Peter Pan and more, Hypes says “Shrek the Musical” is not a traditional fairy tale, but more of a “cracked” fairy tale. “Let’s just say all of these characters have been in fairy tale land a bit too long – they’re all a bit past their born-on date,” he says. “Something is slightly off with everyone.” For example, he explains, Peter Pan isn’t exactly as

lot of iconic characters in the production, so it’s been a really great experience watching Corey and Dianne reexamining how these famous characters should look,” he explains. When asked who Hypes’ favorite character in “Shrek the Musical” is, without hesitation, he says Lord Farquaad. “Basically, this is a full-size guy who does the entire show on his knees – he’s normal-size, but playing someone who’s four foot

“It’s great because in the movie, the audience didn’t really get to know the fairy tale characters – their story, their personalities – this production gives the audience a better idea of what drives them.” — Rob Hypes, musical director production that Hypes promises both children and adults will enjoy. “Like the movie, kids will love it, but adults will get the adult references in the show,” Hypes says. “It’s basically the same plot line and the same story, but expands on the characters more — especially the fairy tale characters — and of course, it’s an actual musical, so there are a lot more songs and dancing.” With a large cast that also features childhood favorite characters like Pinocchio, “Gingy” the Gingerbread

spry and youthful as he once was and all carry a bit of a chip on their shoulders. “It’s great because in the movie, the audience didn’t really get to know the fairy tale characters – their story, their personalities – this production gives the audience a better idea of what drives them,” he says. Hypes also says the costume design is sure to impress. Designed by Corey Strauss, Cindy Strauss and Dianne Kocher, Hypes says the costumes definitely reflect each character’s personality. “There are a

tall – and that’s something I look at and wonder ‘How will we accomplish that?’” he says, adding with a wry smile, “Plus, I always enjoy the villain.” (Who, on a side note, is played by his brother, Joe Hypes — coincidence? Hmmm.) “Shrek the Musical” opens Feb. 28 and runs through March 16 at Playhouse Merced. Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for seniors, $12 for students and $10 for children. Group tickets are available, as are show buyouts. For more information, call (209) 725-8587. THEDLM.COM

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DLM (February)