Wednesday, Dec 05 2012 03:57 PM

CAMILLE GAVIN: Christmas show gets fresh look

By The Bakersfield Californian

Several changes have been made in the current edition of Stars' annual Christmas show compared to the 2011 edition. The major differences in this year's show, which opened last weekend, are the person in the director's chair and the format of the show itself.

First of all, Rosie Ayala, who has produced and directed the show for the past few years, has turned those duties over to Bruce Saathoff, Stars artistic director.

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Where: Stars Restaurant Theatre, 1931 Chester Ave.

Admission: $47 to $57; show only $30 to $37

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Walls of Angels

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Ayala's name is still part of the title, however, and she's serving as Saathoff's assistant as well as a featured performer. I haven't seen the show but Saathoff tells me he's taking a fresh approach to the format, one that should make it more cohesive than in previous years.

"This year's show is called 'A Gleeful Rosie Holiday' because the songs are arranged in the style of the television show 'Glee,'" Saathoff said. "I think it is lively and moves at a fast pace and it still includes some of Rosie's signature humor."

"Glee," of course, is the high-energy, award-winning musical comedy on the Fox channel.

Like the TV show, it's set in a high school and most of the Stars cast are clad in casual winter fashions -- jeans, boots, colorful scarves along with knit caps and sweaters.

With a cast of 21, the current show puts the spotlight on ensembles rather headliners.

"This is a much larger cast and includes some of Stars' regulars like Frank Sierra and Bethany Rowlee," Saathoff said. "And the rest of the cast includes people who have been seen regularly on the Stars stage."

To give you an idea of the content, in one scene Sierra is joined by an all-male chorus as they enthusiastically sing and dance their way through a 21st century version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." There are quiet moments as well, such as the duet of "I Wish I had a River," sung by Robyn Ladd and Rowlee as they strum guitars while seated on tall stools at center stage.

Jeremy Robinson did the musical arrangements. He also provides the accompaniment joined by a guitarist and drummer.

A variety of angels

As part of the holiday season, the Arts Council of Kern has called upon artists as well non-artists to create their interpretation of angels. The images will be unveiled Friday at the Younger Gallery.

All works of art will be for sale and some will be auctioned that evening.

"For the auction we have asked Kern County celebrities and movers and shaker to sketch an angel," said Kari Heilman of the Arts Council. "These (images) will be auctioned off in a live auction at the opening reception with a starting price of $20."

Among the "celebrity artists" are Mayor Harvey Hall, Monsignor Craig Harrison and Bernie Herman, director of the Bakersfield Art Museum.

Proceeds will benefit the Arts Council's exhibition program, the Rescue Mission and the Bakersfield Homeless Center.

Senza Misura Quartet, a local wind ensemble, will provide musical entertainment. The quartet is made up of students and graduates of Cal State Bakersfield, Fresno State and Cornell University.

Also to be introduced at the opening is a 2013 calendar produced by ArtCare, a joint project between the Arts Council and San Joaquin Community Hospital. Each page of the calendar depicts pictures created by patients during their stay at the hospital.

Price of the calendar is $20. Proceeds will benefit SJCH's Cancer Center and the ArtCare program.

Following the reception, calendars will be available at the hospital's Gift Gallery, the Arts Council office, and for one day only at the dedication of the Cancer Center from 3 to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Art Center open house

Opportunities to win valuable prizes are being offered by the Bakersfield Art Association at a free open house to celebrate its 68th year of operation with a party on Saturday at the Art Center.

Tickets are being sold now for a chance to win a portrait painted by local artist Patti Doolittle that's valued at $1,000, said BAA member Stella Mullins.

The drawing will be held at noon on Saturday.

Also being offered at a silent auction are baskets filled with gift items from local merchants. Bid boards for early sign-ups will be available at the center on Friday.

The BAA sponsors a variety of activities including workshops, classes and art exhibits.

A portion of the funds raised is given in the form of scholarships to elementary, high school and college art students on an annual basis.

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