If your company's holiday Christmas party is a little lackluster, Bakersfield Community Theatre has a present for you with its production of "The Desk Set."
Opening Friday, the show, which spawned the 1957 film starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, is a tale of a tightknit female research staff at a TV network who fear the arrival of two computers spell their demise. Comedic misunderstandings culminate in a raucous workplace holiday party.
"It’s unabashed in the celebration of the holiday with a no-holds-barred attitude," director Jan Hefner wrote in an email. "People bringing themselves fully into their workplace and enjoying every second of it."
Hefner said she's a fan of the film as well as the 1955 theatrical source material, which still holds up more than 60 years later.
Audiences should find it easy connect to a tale of a interloper suspected of posing a threat to their jobs, the perils and joy of office romance and resilience in the face of changing times, Hefner said.
"On one level, it’s human intellect and capabilities against an electronic brain," she said. "On another, it’s confidence in one’s capabilities despite a possible workplace threat. On still another, it’s believing in love."
The director was also excited to tell a story of so many proactive women.
" ... I loved that the female characters are strong and protagonists in shaping their own futures."
Julie Gaines stars as Bunny Watson, who runs the reference department staffed by Peg (Teresa Rimmer), Sadel (Deva Wiloth) and Ruthie (Emma Scott). Josh Evans plays Richard Sumner, the creator of the "electronic brains" causing so much worry but, unlike in the movie, he's not Bunny's love interest. That role is network executive Abe Cutler, played by Travis McElroy.
The role change is the biggest difference between film and play, along with names changes to remove ethnic names, Hefner said. (In the movie, Abe is Mike.)
The show also features Tim Fromm, Cisco Huerta, Beth Clark, Juan Quinonez and Sofia Reyes.
Hefner said she is excited for audiences to see the hard work of her terrific cast.
"All of them are committed to telling this story to entertain our audiences with every performance. If our audience leaves laughing and believing that the world is a little brighter, then we’ve done our job."
"The Desk Set" opens 8 p.m. Friday and runs Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 16 with one matinee at 2 p.m. Dec. 10.