Founded to stage bold new theatrical works, Spotlight Theatre presents classics, dramas, comedies, and musicals. The theater boasts high-caliber production quality, homegrown talent, and a suspended net of tapioca-filled balloons to be dropped on audience members that linger too long after the show. The 2010–2011 season (the theater's eleventh) features nine works, including adaptations of Hamlet, The Producers, and Dreamgirls. The Drowsy Chaperone offers the whimsical tale of a diehard musical-theater fan that plays his favorite cast album and then watches in awe as the music literally bursts into life. The Great American Trailer Park Musical tells the story of a ménage à trois involving Pippi (a stripper on the run) and a married couple living in a trailer park in Florida, with a special appearance by a chorus line of trained tap-dancing alligators during intermission.
California Keyboards Music Center has sharpened the ears and tamed the wandering digits of the Southern Valley for more than 35 years. Each weekly 30-minute lesson is taught by instructors whose performance resumés include enlivening Carnegie Hall, marching in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and treading alongside jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald.
Crunching metal and the sweet smell of burning rubber prevail as the Monster X Tour invades the Ocean Center, thrilling all ages in an action-packed motorsports showcase. Bigfoot, the forefather of all station-wagon smashers, leads a fleet of competitive 10,000-pound monster trucks, including Bear Foot and Black Knight, through jaw-dropping races, wheelie contests, and freestyle car composting. Transaurus, a two-story transforming robot that never learned to love, buries his woes by chomping entire cars in his massive jaws while watching reruns of Felicity. Before the show, VIP tickets also grant access to the Pit Party, where fans can have autographs signed by the drivers. During intermission, fans get the opportunity to eschew sea level with a ride inside a monster truck or visit General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard and learn its true feelings about excessive hood sliding.
Judas Priest, the influential English rock band that helped define heavy-metal culture, crescendos a globetrotting career on its farewell Epitaph tour. After nearly four decades of shaking Hades's chandeliers with defibrillating beats, jackhammer guitars, and vocals that earn restraining orders from glass, the crew of Judas Priest is revving through one last career-encompassing victory lap, leaving no head unbanged before hanging up its chaps. Singer Rob Halford hits and holds nearly unattainable notes in anthems that may include "Breaking the Law," "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," or "Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Gracing the stage in the open air of the amphitheater, legendary ax-grinder Zakk Wylde leads Black Label Society through a parade of questionable lullabies, and the boisterous lads of Thin Lizzy pump out hits that encourage inter-office dating at classic-rock stations.
A local institution for more than 40 years, Bakersfield Music Theatre pulls in patrons with a schedule of major Broadway musicals and other songful spectacles. Stop by on October 8 for a one-night-only performance of Direct from Vegas: Frank Sinatra, featuring Gary Corsello crooning un-remixed versions of Sinatra classics such as “Luck Be a Lady” and “Come Fly With Me” to the orchestral accompaniment of five full-sized musicians. The hit musical Chicago (November 13, 14, and 20) follows the exploits of a pair of femme fatales driven to murder by the stiff breezes of the Windy City, while "This and That: A Night of Song and Dance" (February 26) combines the mouth-powered melodies of Bakersfield Music Theatre with the legendary leggery of the Civic Dance Center. Hairspray (April 30, May 1, and May 7) caps the season with the tuneful tale of a teenage dance queen whose fancy footwork and well-kempt coiffure help her to defeat her enemies, the Philadelphia Eagles.
The squeal of tires echoes from the ceiling as go-karts tear around the indoor track at Jam Raceway. Suspended inches off the ground, racers drive electric European karts that catch speeds up to 45 miles per hour. Each 14-lap race around the quarter-mile track takes about 10 minutes. Spectators can keep an eye on the action on the projection screen, which displays lap times and current standings. Drivers can check their statistics on the score sheet they receive after each race. The raceway's staff changes the track layout on a regular basis to keep racers on their toes.