Books and the stage collide as California Baptist University’s (CBU) School of Performing Arts (SoPA) launches its 2023-24 slate of theater productions and musicals. This year, CBU pays homage to some of history’s best literary authors, collectively called A Season of Great Authors. For the first time, patrons can purchase a season ticket, securing their seats for four performances plus the Inland Empire’s premier Christmas production A CBU Christmas.
The first performance in the Season Ticket package is “Frankenstein,” which opens October 13 – appropriately Friday the 13th – at the Wallace Theatre on the CBU campus. Childlike in his innocence but grotesque in form, Frankenstein’s bewildered creature is cast out into a hostile universe by his horror-struck maker. The book by Shelley is frequently considered the first science-fiction novel ever written. Frankenstein runs October 13, 14, 20, 21 and 22.
The second performance of the season is an original musical production called “Dietrich and Maria,” which opens November 17. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and author who joined the resistance movement against Hitler. The musical looks at how a pastor and his young fiancé confront the human atrocities of Nazi Germany.
A CBU Christmas: Spirit, Songs and Story of the Season, will feature an ensemble cast of students, faculty and staff who have spent hundreds of hours preparing for the performance. This year, audiences will not only enjoy music and songs, but also a theatre component of the Christmas story. This year’s A CBU Christmas performances are December 2 and 3 at the Dale E. and Sara Ann Fowler Events Center on the CBU campus.
In February, Agatha Christie’s classic “Murder on the Orient Express” rolls into the Wallace Theatre. As the story goes, just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed eight times, his door locked from the inside. Detective Hercule Poirot must solve the case before the killers strikes again. “Murder on the Orient Express” opens February 23, and runs through March 3 at the Wallace Theatre.
The final performance in the Season Ticket offering is “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Based on Hugo’s novel, with songs from the Disney animated feature, “Hunchback” showcases the film’s Academy-award nominated score, as well as new songs. Hugo’s story is one of love and sacrifice, and premieres April 5, with performances on April 6, 12, 13 and 14 at the Wallace Theatre.
Each show will stretch the producers and designers in various ways: They’ll have to create the Frankenstein creature, make room for an orchestra on stage with “Dietrich,” make a train car for the “Murder” set and create the illusion of pouring hot lead in “Hunchback.”
Season Tickets can be purchased today at cbutickets.com/performingarts, $50/adults and $40/children (age 17 and under).