Reality television is rife with drama but what happens when it delves into true melodrama? That's what the Gaslight aims to find out this weekend when it revisits the "Real Housewives of Oildale."
The northwest Bakersfield theater first presented its take on reality TV and the fame monsters it breeds in 2012 — and fans have been asking for its return ever since.
"We've been asked at least once a week if we’ll bring it back," said Michael Prince, the theater's artistic director. "(But) it’s rare that we bring something back."
Two exceptions have been the Gaslight's take on "A Christmas Carol" and "My Big Fat Oildale Wedding" that — sorry, fans! — has probably seen its last curtain call.
"You definitely don’t want to bring something back too soon," Prince said. "We thought well, this seems like the right time."
Although there were a few updated jokes and references, the show didn't require much tweaking six years later, Prince said.
"Not much has changed in the reality TV world and we didn't have to update that much. The way things are in the world right now, how wacky everything is, the story is about the same."
In the production, Hollywood television producer Ryan Seachest (Shawn Rader) and associate Blaine Hightower (Matthew Thompson) happen upon Oildale as the next location for their new reality show. Many of the women in town flock to the production, allowing themselves to change to suit their new roles. It ends up falling to Nadine Hoffenfeffer (Tessa Ogles), owner of the Best Little Hairhouse in Oildale, and two of the housewives' husbands — Carl (Prince) and Buster (Michael Kubik) — to get everyone back to true reality.
Rader and Thompson are the only returning cast members from the first production, reprising their roles as villainous Hollywood influencers.
"They’re hilarious," Prince said of the dastardly duo. "They were so great the first time so it's been a real hoot to see them revisit it."
The cast also includes Julie Gaines, Alyssa Bonnano and Ali Dougherty as housewives, respectively, Marlene Keaton, Julie McGillicutty and Amber Rae McJunkin.
Prince enjoys many moments in the show but starts with the opener: "Oildale Woman," set to the tune of the Guess Who's "American Woman."
"That’s just a really fun number, when you get to see the housewives right before they start filming the show."
"Real Housewives" is followed by the all-new vaudeville revue "The Not So Greatest Showman." Written by musical director Warren Dobson, the revue revolves around P.T. Barnum's less-accomplished brother, E.T.
Prince said, "His younger brother who never quite succeeded is putting on his circus and is finding his own obscure performers."
Those include the bearded lady and the world's smallest woman. Prince also noted that the set is done up to look like the inside of a circus tent.
"It’s a total blast."