Bakersfield Life Magazine September 2009 : Page 31

days and anniversaries. There’s some- a game-show format as in the recent t of “My Big Fat Oildale Wedding.” usical vaudeville review concludes the s and anniversaries. There’s some- a game-show format as in the recent t of “My Big Fat Oildale Wedding.” usical vaudeville review concludes the The The Road to Rosedale” succeeded with -week run and “we took off running,” a says. Still, it took some time in the er’s first year to learn about its audience, h was mostly working class and blue generally. “You’re coming here to have d time and a fun experience. They want ve fun, not ‘drama,’” she said. nfortunately, the Gaslight’s second Guests wait in line to receive their tickets for a production at the Gaslight Melodrama Theatre & Music Hall in northwest Bakersfield. Audiences are encouraged to hiss and scream at the bad guy or yelp and whoop it up loudly for the good guy. Identify the sweet- heart and say “aaawwwwww!” It gets loud, funky and funny. It’s campy, crazy and “over the top.” If you don’t know when to laugh, look for the wink-wink, nudge-nudge from the actors — it’s all in a day’s work, says Mi- chael Prince, Gaslight’s artistic director since 2006. “The better the audience, the better the show,” Prince says. The little red saloon-style theater at 12748 Jomani Drive opened in 2005 with “The Road to Rosedale.” Owner Linda Larma had already established her Linda Larma & Daughters Academe of Dance studio on the location before she and husband, Arnie Car- los, decided to build a theater and produce shows there. Previously a melodrama theater had been established on China Grade Loop until closing in 2001. The current theater’s name was inspired by the movie “Under the Gaslight,” Larma says. “We always liked the melodrama style of theater and we wanted it to stand out.” Inside, the 150-seat theater has the aura of the Wild West, with western replica gas- lights, wagon wheel chandeliers and a piano up front by the stage. But it also is an infor- mal dinner theater with a snack and cocktail bar — the Moosehead Lounge — open be- fore and during intermission. For Larma and husband Arnie, the Gaslight is a labor of love and a family affair. She and Arnie are pro- ducers, son-in-law Michael is artistic direc- tor, and daughter Jennifer is one of the dance instructors responsible for choreographing the dance moves in every show. Actors do double-duty, escorting theater patrons to their seats and waiting on them in the Moosehead Lounge before taking the stage. Customers should expect to be serenaded when ordering food, a beverage or leave a tip. The pre-show begins when Prince or another cast member warms up the audience and instructs them when and how to participate. After the show, there’s more — usually Prince and crew do a shout-out for “Frankenstein,” was a bit more drama not real fun, Prince and Larma recall. s “dark and the complete opposite” of we do, Prince said. “It was so off-put- hat the run was cut in half. We even had p the vaudeville portion first. People leaving during the show. It was a good n to learn.” Prince teams with his muse and creative partner, musical director Warren Dobson. “We just riff off of each other. Sometimes I’ll just mention something to him and the next day, he’s got the songs almost all written. It’s like we’re in the same head.” All actors are professionally trained. The current cast, in ad- dition to Prince and Dobson, includes: Greg Ramsdell, Jay Stodder, Coryn McBride, Ka- tie Metz, Scott Hillberry, Rosie Ayala, Ken Burdick, Jill Burdick and Kimberly Slikker. Chris Cawthon also has the honor of working the sound and light booth. Recent shows, which satirize familiar television shows, movies, theater and every- day Americana, include “Milligan’s Island,” “Welcome Back Potter,” “Radio Razzle Daz- zle,” “Space, the Musical” and “The Girls Who Saved Rock & Roll.” By now, the theater has experienced so much success that it repeated its run of the popular gut-busting “My Big Fat Oildale Wed- ding,” penned as a “love letter” to Oildale. This show paid homage to good ol’ memories and stereotypes of life “East or West of Airport” to celebrate Oildale’s centennial, while spoofing the popular movie “My Big Fat Greek Wed- Continued on page 32 31

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