In Brief: Arts events in and around Modesto

July 17, 2013 

Youths take on the Bard

Center Stage Youth Summer Conservatory presents Shakespeare's "Troilus and Cressida" tonight through July 28 at the Lower Level Studio in downtown Modesto. Cast members, age 11 to 20, are updating the ancient tale of war, betrayal and friendship by setting it in a modern high school with jocks, cheerleaders and drama kids.

"We have raised the expectation for our young artists," said director and program co-founder Traci Sprague. "Instead of dumbing down the poetry and text, we ask our students to rise above the challenge and portray realistic people who happen to speak poetry."

Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays at the Lower Level Studio, 948 11th St. Tickets are $10 general and $5 students; (209) 846-0179 or

'Havana' arts benefit for schoolchildren

Focus On, a new nonprofit founded by photographers David Schroeder and Jon Sousa and event promoter John Griswold, is presenting the benefit "The Romance of Old Havana" on July 27. The program is at 6 p.m. at the Martin G. Peterson Event Center, 720 12th St., Modesto. The show features live Cuban music, a dance floor show, authentic Cuban cuisine, mojito bars, a guest performance by Modesto-based international opera singer Roy Stevens and a live and silent auction. Proceeds will benefit the Central California Art Association's CLASS program, which provides arts instruction in schools, and the Boys and Girls Club of Stanislaus County. Tickets are $60-$75; (209) 543-4261 or

'A Musical Journey of Women' at SRT

Sierra Repertory Theatre celebrates how much women have changed over the past 100 years with a show about female pop music. The company presents "RESPECT: A Musical Journey of Women" from July 26 through Sept. 1 at its East Sonora theater, 13891 Mono Way, Sonora. Performances are at 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Songs include "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Where the Boys Are," "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," "I Am Woman," "I Will Survive" and "Girls Just Want To Have Fun." The show, which is performed with four singers and a live band, has been a hit around the globe. Tickets are $26-$32; (209) 532-3120 or

'The Great Escape'

The Modesto Film Society presents the 1963 Steve McQueen movie "The Great Escape" on Sunday at the State Theatre in Modesto. The film begins at 2 p.m. The movie is about a plot by Allied prisoners of war to organize a mass escape by tunnel from a high security German camp. Kyle Barker will give a pre-film organ concert. The State Theatre is at 1307 J St. Tickets are $8, with discounts available for society members; (209) 527-4697 or

Merced Art Hop

The next Merced Art Hop is Saturday in downtown Merced. The event runs from 5 to 9 p.m., and features art, live music, performers and interactive art activities. The Merced Art Hop is a quarterly event. There is only one more art hop this year after this weekend's event — on Oct. 19. For details, visit

Blues singer

Blues singer Janiva Magness performs July 27 at the West Side Theatre in Newman at 8 p.m. Magness won the 2013 Blues Music Award for contemporary blues female artist of the year, her fourth win in the category. She also won the 2009 Blues Music Award for BB King entertainer of the year. USA Today said, "Magness is a blues star." The Philadelphia Inquirer said, "Magness sings superbly, with a scorching intensity." The West Side Theatre is at 1331 Main St. in Newman. Tickets are $20-$23; (209) 862-4490 or

Railtown 'Spotlight'

The second annual "Spotlight on Railtown" evening fund-raiser is Saturday at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown. The event begins at 6 p.m. and features local wines, appetizers, live music, train rides and more. The Sierra No. 3 "Movie Star Locomotive" also will make an appearance. The event is presented by Tuolumne County's Rotary and Kiwanis clubs in partnership with California State Parks and the California State Railroad Museum Foundation. Tickets are $50, with all proceeds benefitting Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Call (209) 984-3953 or visit

20 bands perform

The Valley Music Institute presents 20 rock bands performing Sunday afternoon in downtown Modesto. The show begins at 1 p.m. Sunday at Hero's, 821 L St. (home of St. Stan's Brewery). Tickets are $4 advance and $7 at the door;

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