When in Rome

Sharida Rejon, Features Editor

Black Gold Productions just opened its 15th-annual run with “When In Rome…,” a comedic musical, in order to raise funds for cancer research and cancer patient support.
According to Stacey Briceno, the director of the show, “When in Rome…” is a fresh concept to the troupe and the show offers a variety of music that people are sure to enjoy. Briceno, who has been a cast member of Black Gold Productions for eight years, is directing her fourth show for the organization.
“This is an all-volunteer group. Everybody has day jobs,” said Briceno. “None of them are really actors on the side, so it’s just a passion that they have to do something fun and raise money for a good cause.”
Black Gold Productions originated 15 years ago with a group of six employees from Aera Energy who took an acting workshop, which later culminated into a show. After they unexpectedly raised money, they decided to donate it to Relay for Life. Now an official non-profit organization with more elaborate performances, and with a primary mission to fight against cancer and “celebrate life with laughter,” Black Gold Productions has raised approximately $430,000 for cancer research in the past 14 years, which they donated to the American Cancer Society, making their Relay for Life team a top-ten team in the annual event.
This year, they are supporting the Kern County Cancer Fund, a local patient support organization.
“The Kern County Cancer Fund is a start-up organization, and we decided they might need a little horsepower to get started,” said Mike Handren, CEO of Black Gold Productions and the business and technical director of the show.
“The show itself will be worth about $20,000 to $25,000, which will be our contribution to the Kern County Cancer Fund,” he said. “A number of performers have had a family member die from cancer, or survive it, so we are really big on fighting against cancer.”
In addition to helping with the battle against cancer, performances of “When in Rome…” will also benefit a local scholarship fund.
“We are a joint team with the American Petroleum Institute, we teamed up about seven years ago,” said Handren. “They are the ones who handle all the house arrangements, food and bar, and the proceeds from their activities go to the API Scholarship Fund. They are also a sponsor of our show,” he said.
According to Briceno, Black Gold Productions has yearly returning audience members.
“We have regulars. There are people who are generally here year after year supporting us,” she said.
“When In Rome…” opened on Feb. 28 and will have its final performances on March 7-8 at 7 p.m. at the Woman’s Club of Bakersfield. Tickets are $20, which includes a dinner, and are available through their website www.BGP-show.com.