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Merced’s non-stop variety is the spice of life

Tom Frazier
Tom Frazier

Written in 1785, William Cowper’s poem, “The Task, stated that, “Variety is the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavor.”

That’s certainly true this month, not only is there plenty to do, but also a huge variety.

It ranges from, Acrobats in a new Shanghai Circus, to Magnificent Mozart, to Shakespeare in Yosemite Park to a fun-filled Portuguese Festival.

The Merced Symphony Association presents, “Magnificent Mozart” at the Merced Theatre on April 12, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available online at or by phone at (209) 381-0500 or by a visit to the box office Tuesdays-Fridays afternoons at 301 W. Main Street.

Later in the month, April 25 at 7 p.m., the Merced Theatre will present audience-thrilling acrobats from the New Shanghai Circus. This world-traveling troupe invigorates children of all ages around the world.

Shakespeare in Yosemite? You bet!

Faculty from UC Merced (Professor Katherine Steele Brokaw) is joined by Professor Paul Prescott from the University of Warwick to direct “As you Like it” by the Bard. This show features Lisa Wolpe. It also celebrates Shakespeare’s birthday, Earth Day and National Parks week.

“As You Like It” tells the story of Rosalind as she escapes the wrath of her evil uncle by running away with her cousin and best friend Celia. Disguised as a young man in a forest far from the city, Rosalind finds new freedom in the woods, and new liberty to talk to the object of her affection, Orlando. The clownish Touchstone, the melancholy Jaques, a group of foresters and feuding siblings thicken the plot, which features live music throughout and the famous “all the world’s a stage” speech. With lots of song and dance, many laughs, and a powerful environmental message, this year’s production has something for park-goers of all ages. Now the best part, it is totally free.

Make it a day out by taking YARTS where the fare includes entrance to Yosemite. There are several days to choose from:

Friday, April 26, 5:30 p.m. free public performance, Half Dome Village

Saturday, April 27, 11 a.m.: and 2 p.m. – free public performances, Lower River amphitheater Sunday, April 28, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. – free public performances, Lower River. amphitheater.

There’s yet another great play coming up at the Gallo in Modesto, “Tuesdays with Morrie,” directed by Mercedian Heike Hambley, starring Colton Dennis  and Jim Johnson. Colton is also from Merced and is the Executive Manager of the MAC.

“This is the autobiographical story of Mitch Albom, an accomplished journalist driven solely by his career, and Morrie Schwartz, his former college professor. Sixteen years after graduation, Mitch happens to catch Morrie’s appearance on a television news program and learns that his old professor is battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Mitch is reunited with Morrie, and what starts as a simple visit turns into a weekly pilgrimage and a last class in the meaning of life.”
Tuesdays with Morrie is on the same days as the “As you like it,” but also has several choices, so you can indeed attend both. Friday, April 26, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28, both at 2 p.m. All at the Gallo Center for The Arts, 1000 I St, Modesto, California 95354 (209) 338-2100. Tickets online at:

Last but certainly not least, expand your knowledge of another culture! Attend the San Joaquin Valley Portuguese Festival.

The Festival will be held at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock, on Saturday April 13, from 9 a.m. to midnight.

This family-friendly event will be kicked off by a traditional Portuguese Parade and will then showcase traditional Portuguese dancing, music, and cuisine. It followed by plenty of activities such as bloodless bullfight demonstrations, philharmonic performances, Chamarita (Portuguese traditional dance) lessons, a Portuguese bazaar, traditional Portuguese games, a cultural exhibit, carnival rides, and even a Portuguese Beans cooking contest! Naturally, as you would expect there will be plenty of food vendors.

So there you have it, a busy April. … A fun April. … A diverse April.

Get out & about folks!

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