Hillberry active at Gaslight and full-time BC student
October 7, 2009
Filed under Spotlight
Full-time BC student Scott Hillberry, 19, is a computer science major who also works full time for the Gaslight Melodrama theater on the west side of town.
The young theater enjoys putting on family style comedy productions and vaudeville routines. “We’re still relatively unknown,” he said. A lot of people still haven’t heard that the new theater opened after the old Melodrama theater downtown was closed 10 years ago.
Hillberry, who has been on contract with the Melodrama for the past year and a half, said his favorite part of working there is performing and making people laugh.
He especially loves the experience of playing various characters. His favorite performance was of the multiple personality character, Quiet Harry/Flint Westwood in the play “Rustler’s Revenge.” During this performance he switched back and forth between a dopey shy character and a manly Clint Eastwood type every time he was hit in the head. This became especially fun during the last fight scene where he had to switch characters every few seconds, he said.
Hillberry also acts as the master of ceremonies for the theater, introducing the plays and getting the crowd involved in the performance.
“Those are the best shows,” he said, “When the audience gets involved, it lets us know we are doing well. It’s depressing when there is a small audience because it’s hard to be interactive.”
He said he’s glad that attendance has been up ever since the premiere of “My Big Fat Oildale Wedding” last year. “Our crowds have been consistently large because of that.”
In addition to being a full-time student and contracted performer, Hillberry is also a songwriter and has even performed his music at the Kern County Fair.
According to Hillberry, one of the most challenging aspects of working with the Melodrama is time management.
“It’s difficult to juggle school with work,” he said. “When I’m not there, I’m here.”
He spends approximately five to eight hours on campus but he likes being at the Melodrama because it’s a relaxed atmosphere where he can get homework done in between rehearsals and performances.
“You’re not stuck at a cash register or a desk, you’re free to do other things.”
When asked if a career in melodrama was in his future, he said acting is more of a hobby for him. He is hoping to move away from Bakersfield and is looking into some schools in New York.
“I’m planning to transfer next fall, and I don’t want to focus on acting as a career just because it’s not stable enough.”
For the time being, he is looking forward to the Christmas show this December.
“It’s a more intimate experience. We incorporate some of the older holidays and give them a new twist.” He said the Christmas show is also good for business since people are more generous with tips during the holidays.
“It’s hard to do, though, because those performances happen around finals.”
His favorite classes so far have been English and Physics but he believes that the right instructor makes all the difference between a good and bad class experience.
Coming up soon is the Gaslight Melodrama’s Halloween special influenced by the classic television show “The Twilight Zone.” “The Skylight Zone” is an all black-and-white production, which means they will be putting on gray makeup and dying their hair or wearing wigs. Hillberry will be permanently dying his hair black for this performance. “At least it’s a normal color, if I had to go lime green I would have to consider it.” He is excited for the new show and hopes it gets a good response from the fans.