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Gaslight Melodrama

Ali Dougherty and Shawn Rader can be spied in Gaslight Melodrama

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courtesy of Vikki Cruz

This is one of the 15 pieces Vikki Cruz will display on Monday at Valentien Restaurant and Wine Bar.

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courtesy of Vikki Cruz

This is one of the 15 pieces Vikki Cruz will display on Monday at Valentien Restaurant and Wine Bar.

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courtesy of Charles Badami

photo courtesy of Charles Badami Pianist Charles Badami will hold on Wednesday night at St. Phillip the Apostle Church.

Michael Prince's fascination with a famous movie character spawned the script for Gaslight Melodrama's new production, which opens Friday.

"I've always been a fan of the James Bond film franchise," Prince said. "So this was especially fun getting to pay tribute to those movies."

It's called "From Pismo with Love," and the subtitle is "A James Blonde Adventure."

This is the first time Prince has written a parody of the series, made famous initially by Sean Connery.

Instead of giving the play an international setting, however, he's sticking to a region familiar to many local vacationers.

"It is set solely in Pismo, which, let's face it, is basically Bakersfield by the sea," Prince said.

Shawn Rader plays the lead character, James Blonde, a surfing legend by day who becomes a super spy when the sun goes down. In true melodrama fashion, the villain is an evil billionaire named Allibaster Blowfish, who is determined to destroy Pismo Beach and its many attractions.

"From the dunes to the beaches to the beloved Splash Cafe, James will stop at nothing to make sure Pismo will live on forever," says Prince in his synopsis of the show.

Blowfish's secret weapons are two characters called Domino Fillindeblank and Honey DuMelon. I have an idea this will be a popular show, which leads me to wonder if Prince will repeat the Blonde character for the next season as he did with "Zorro Strikes Back," his most recent show at Gaslight. Performances of "From Pismo with Love" can be seen at Gaslight through June 28.

Cruz reception

Ordinary objects take on an unexpected nature in the hands of local artist Vikki Cruz. For example, some might look at her painting of an empty banana peel lying on a kitchen counter and get a sense that it's been cast off, no longer of use. But to me it exudes a warm, earthy appeal emphasized by the subtle curves of the peeled skin and the artist's mellow blending of several shades of yellow and a soft brownish-black.

Her exhibit of new work will open with a reception on Monday evening at Valentien. Titled "Remnants of Home," the display features 15 pieces.

"The work depicts everyday interior objects, mostly chairs I own or have been attracted to based on their form and design," Cruz said in an email message.

"Most of the work is created using watercolor and casein on paper; however I will have a few still lifes in oil on canvas."

This is the second time the artist has had a solo show at Valentien. She will give a short introduction to her new work at 6 p.m. Music by Mauro Vizcarro will begin on the patio at the conclusion of the reception.

A Bakersfield native, Cruz attended Bakersfield College before transferring to UC Berkeley to study modern and contemporary art with an emphasis in painting. In 2004, she returned to her hometown and accepted a position with Bakersfield Museum of Art. In 2008, while still working part time for the art museum, she became co-owner of Surface Gallery, a contemporary art space dedicated to promoting the work of emerging and under-recognized artists.

The closing of Surface in 2010 led to a permanent position at the Bakersfield Museum of Art, where she is currently employed as chief curator. "Remnants of Home" will be on display at Valentien until July 6. Cruz plans to donate part of the proceeds from sales to the BMOA's ArtWorks program.

Badami recital

Cal State Bakersfield music professor Robert Provencio is enthusiastic about the pianist who will be guest artist at a recital on Wednesday at a local church.

"Charles Badami's upcoming recital will be thrilling, I'm sure," said Provencio. "The program will focus on works of Bach and Chopin and will benefit the music ministry of St. Philip the Apostle Church."

For the first half of his concert, Badami will perform J.S. Bach's "Partita in E minor," a suite made up of five movements. After an intermission, Etudes, Op. 25, which consists of 12 short pieces for piano, by Chopin.

Badami is currently an instructor of music and collaborative pianist at Northwest Missouri State University, where he works with student pianists, the university choirs, and vocal and instrumental studios, according to information provided by Provencio. He was featured twice this season as guest pianist for the St. Joseph (Missouri) Symphony Chamber Music Series, and is a frequent recitalist with violinist Rico McNeela.

Metropolitan Opera

A live simulcast of Rossini's "La Cenerentola" will be presented on Saturday morning at Edwards Cinema in The Marketplace. I have yet to attend one of these performances but several readers who have done so tell me the quality of the productions is excellent. A special feature is the backstage interviews with principals in the cast during the intermission.

Rossini, a 19th century Italian composer who also wrote "William Tell," based this opera on the fairy-tale character Cinderella. Running time for the Metropolitan Opera production is a little over three hours.