Local theater and music fans will have something different to enjoy during downtown Bakersfield’s First Friday activities this weekend with the opening of an original cabaret that is more than it seems at first glance.
Stages, A Unique and Unusual Cabaret, opens this Friday at Sustenance (next door to Mama Roomba’s at 19th and Eye Streets) with a 7 p.m. performance. It will be followed on Saturday with a matinee at 2 p.m. and a final performance Saturday evening at 7 p.m.
Stages describes the journeys taken by 5 female performers that led them to where they are today in their professional and personal lives. It features a mixture of musical genres – jazz, pop, classic rock, opera, country & western – as well as dance, comedy, and drama. The production begins innocuously enough, with pleasant group vocals and performances, but then suddenly and without warning, it takes a dark and serious turn, grabbing the audience by the throat before it realizes what has happened.
The talented performers share very personal and emotional experiences from their past that presented each of them with decisions as to whether and how to continue their musical and performing careers. Ultimately, however, the show ends with a celebration of their lives and is very, very uplifting.
If you are a woman, many of the personal vignettes will strike close to home with their familiarity. If you are a man, you will gain a better understanding of how your interactions with the women in your life may not be the best thing for either of you.
Stages began with discussions between actress and jazz vocalist Kama Ruby and her friend, Barbi Radd, who many may have seen in the films Grease or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The idea grew into Stages as they discussed it with other friends, including Alicia Richardson, Tiffany Carmel, and Linda Barbour.
The production premiered in Stevenson Ranch last year and an abridged version of mostly songs from Stages was performed at Metro Galleries in Bakersfield shortly after that. Since then, Stages has been touring Southern California, with its most recent performance in South Pasadena a few weeks ago.
There is a definite Bakersfield connection with Stages. Both Ms. Ruby and Ms. Richardson are Bakersfield natives, and Ms. Radd once performed and directed locally at the Vaudeville Express Melodrama in Oildale with Ms. Ruby. Ms. Barbour – a jazz, blues, and country vocalist – resides in Bakersfield where she frequently can be seen performing with her husband, Keith Barbour.
Additionally, Ms. Carmel sings with the San Diego Opera Company (and is also the author of two published fantasy novels) and Ms. Richardson has performed in numerous stage and operatic productions throughout the southland. Detailed biographies of each of the performers may be found here: Stages Bios
Stages was adapted for the stage by Dana Martin, the production’s original director. Musical accompaniment will be provided by pianist Jeff Rosbrugh, familiar to many Bakersfield musical theater and jazz afficianados.
Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the door or ordered online at the following link: BrownPaperTickets
Local jazz musicians seeking funds for new cabaret, Stages, opening in December
Metro Galleries to present Stages, a unique and moving cabaret