Director Roger Mathey is promising plenty of live action for Spotlight Theatre's "Robin Hood," which opens April 22 for a 12-performance run.

"We've got 24 sword fighters," he said. "They're not on stage all at once -- sort of coming and going at one another" as tale unfolds.

Justin Gordon, now working in professional theater in Santa Cruz, is choreographing the tricky movements needed for the fights.

"He (Gordon) used to be in shows here," Mathey said. "He's had sword-fight training in England, so we asked him to come down and help us out."

However, what audiences should not expect is a standard version of the ancient legend of good versus evil. Said Mathey, "It's more in the Mel Brooks-Monty Python vein."

True, it's based on the familiar story of goings-on in Sherwood Forest. But, as written by Bob Nigro, it's a parody with more than a few modern twists. For example, Robin Hood, played by Rikk Cheshire, is a politically correct vegetarian who refuses to kill or eat meat.

In a further bow to the modern world, there's one character named Marilyn Monroe, played by Sarah Vara, and another called the Sweet Transvestite. The mixed-gender character is portrayed by Paul Nix.

As for the more traditional roles, Sarah Downie is cast as Maid Marian; Rick McMann as the Sheriff of Nottingham; Charlie Gamble as Little John; Pablo Reyes as Friar Tuck; and Jarrod Ackerley as Will Scarlet, the minstrel.

Those in other lead roles are Kamel Haddad, Ivan Goertzen, Tami McMann, Guinevere Park-Hall, Angela Poncetta and Crosby Shaterian. Tickets are $15; students, seniors and military, $10. For reservations call 631-0692.

Bakersfield Keynotes

Bakersfield Keynotes is a women's chorus that began long before some of its youngest members were born. Yet one member, Nancy Broome, has been singing with the group since it began way back in 1952 when it was called the Mother Singers. She acknowledged that today's membership is made up of a wide range of ages.

"We're quite spread out," said Broome, who's a great-grandmother. "I'm the oldest. Two or three (members) are in their 20s. And one member just had a baby. In fact she brought the baby to our last rehearsal."

The group of 20 singers, minus the infant, of course, will perform its spring scholarship concert at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Beale Memorial Library auditorium.

Keynotes adopted its present name in 1970, said Jan Deaton Rockoff, another long-time member. It's affiliated with California Women's Chorus. In 2006 the local chorus will host the state's 26 branches at its annual convention to be held in Bakersfield.

"Our purpose, as always," said Rockoff, "is not only to perform and entertain but to raise scholarships for young people interested in studying music."

Since 1970, she said, the group has awarded more than $60,000 to Kern County youths. Two former recipients, Ken Burdick and Janie Kennedy, have appeared frequently in Bakersfield Music Theatre productions. And Burdick teaches music at Mount Vernon, a magnet school of the Bakersfield City School District.

The concert, titled "Kaleidoscope of Music," will range from jazz to Broadway show tunes, many of which will be choreographed. Tickets are $15. For information, call 871-9593.

Maturango ceramics show

Betty Spindler is the featured artist for April and May in the Sylvia Winslow Gallery at the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest.

Her ceramic sculptures of fruits, vegetables and other everyday things are so lifelike it's difficult to believe they're not the real thing.

And that may be why Spindler's mouth-watering version of the lowly hot dog has been selected for a permanent spot in the Smithsonian Institution, as part of the new Luce Foundation collection opening in June 2006.

"It's going to be in the Smithsonian's American Art Museum," said Spindler. "After all, what could be more American than the hot dog?"

A curator from the Washington, D.C., museum spotted Spindler's sculpture at the Winfield Gallery in Carmel, which shows her work on a regular basis.

Spindler, who says she's a "late bloomer," graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1990. However, she got her first taste of ceramics in Ridgecrest in a class taught by Paul Meyer.

"I started taking art classes at Cerro Coso College in 1979, just for fun," she said. "I found I loved ceramics and stayed with it."

Rosemary Lackaye, Maturango's gallery coordinator, said Spindler's work is low-fired. Each piece is hand built with slabs of clay over a free-form newspaper armature. The clay is smoothed and shaped into the artist's vision, then covered with vibrantly alive colors.

The Spindler exhibit will be on display 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily at the Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores in Ridgecrest. Telephone is (760) 375-6900.

Camille Gavin appears each Thursday. She can be reached via e-mail at Read her columns online at