For local audiences, it's not necessarily surprising if they haven't heard of a scheduled musical. When it comes to the slated director of said show, that's a different story.
So last year, when Brent Rochon was tapped to direct "Promises, Promises" — which opens at Stars this weekend — he had to do some research.
A good student of theater, Rochon quickly got up to speed on the production based on the Academy Award-winning 1960 movie "The Apartment." The tale of a junior executive who lends out his home to higher-ups for their romantic trysts features a winning creative trio: a book written by Neil Simon, music composed by Burt Bacharach, and lyrics by Hal David.
"Once I read the show and listened to the music, I fell in love with it," he wrote in an email. "It’s funny, charming, clever, has great music, and does not take itself too seriously. My kind of show."
In the Stars production, Cody Garcia plays Chuck Baxter, the man looking to get a leg up on his career by letting his bosses get their legs around their girlfriends in his apartment. His life is further complicated by his love for waitress Fran Kubelik (Bethany Rowlee), who he discovers also knows his company's personnel director, J.D. Sheldrake (Bruce Saathoff).
Randy Jelmini, Joe Lowry, Richard Yamauchi and Peter De Keles play the other sneaky executives and Stars newcomer Tara Haner takes on dual roles as Sheldrake's secretary and a lonelyheart that crosses paths with Chuck.
Noting "collaboration is the best strategy," Rochon also expresses his gratitude for Brenda Baldwin, who handles the show's vocal direction, and co-choreographer Marnie Forzetting.
The show's look was guided by Laura Engel, providing the "oh-so-wonderfully chic" costumes of the late '60s and early '70s, set designer Cory McCall and Gabe Urena, who designed the lighting that highlights the abstract set.
"It allows us to represent the many different scene locations without huge set pieces being dragged on and off stage," Rochon said of McCall's and Urena's work.
"Promises, Promises" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The show runs through Nov. 18. Tickets are $44-$69, $25-$40 for those 18 and under, available at bmtstars.com or at the box office, 1931 Chester Ave., or by calling 325-6100.
'Unsorted' at CSUB
Younger theater-goers might want to head to Cal State Bakersfield this weekend for "Unsorted," its latest Theatre for Young Audiences production.
Director Kamala Boeck said she discovered the show, written by Wesley Middleton, after hearing a student's report about the playwright.
She wrote in an email: "I was intrigued by the plays focus on traditional 'typing' of all people and how we are really, quite intentionally, designed to be 'unsortable.'"
The show's world is inhabited by characters who each represent an article of clothing:
Jacket (Dakota Nash), Skirt (Guinevere PH Dethlefson), Slacks (Magdiel Carranza), Swimsuit (Caroline Coronado), Stovepipe (Trenton Benet) and Sweater (Katelyn Evans). They live happily until they are ordered to sort themselves into two piles and find the only way to do so is by hiding or removing part of themselves.
The show espouses an important message of accepting diversity and expanding our idea of what it means to be male or female, Boeck said.
"We allow a lot of breadth nowadays for girls to explore areas of their lives that are seen as traditionally masculine. My hope is that we begin to allow the same sort of freedom for boys as well. The playwright wrote the play as a means of expressing her grief about the 'banishment' nonconforming youth face in our culture. Children who do not conform are often ousted from their homes, and the play is a symbolic representation of this plight."
Children of all ages are welcome but the director said, based on some abstract dialogue, the show might be best enjoyed by those in fifth grade or junior high.
Helping guide audiences through some of the show's themes will be students from the university's "Philosophy for Children" program, which is directed by Dr. Senem Saner. With sessions at county libraries already under their belts, the group will help lead a philosophical discussion about the play, emphasizing the youth's ability to articulate their opinions, after the 4 p.m. performance Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Those attending other performances can use the prompts on the show's program to generate a family discussion.
"It would be great for adults to listen carefully to their children’s opinions first, rather than telling them what to think, as this can be a great opportunity to learn more about the child."
"Unsorted" will be performed at 11 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday at the Dore Theatre, 9001 Stockdale Highway. Admission is $5, free for children 12 and under.
Also at CSUB, check out "Oh Is It, Expert," an exhibit from the artist's collective Galeria Perdida (Lost Gallery). Established in Chilchota, Michoacán, Mexico, in 2005, the group now lives and works in Brooklyn and has exhibited in New York City, Los Angeles, Paris and Mexico City.
The opening reception will be held Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Todd Madigan Gallery on campus.
The exhibition will remain on display through Dec. 2, with gallery hours 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.