50 Years of Live Theatre - A History
Bakersfield Music Theatre was founded in 1969 (known then as the Bakersfield Civic Light Opera) by a group of educators and citizens interested in the performing arts. In 1974, it received nonprofit status, and began operating at Harvey Auditorium. In 1989, BMT opened the dinner theatre known as Stars Theatre Restaurant. In 1999, Stars Theatre Restaurant moved into the former Bank of America Building in downtown Bakersfield, which became the center of the Bakersfield Arts District.
In 1993, the Kids Go to Theatre program was initiated bringing 5,000 school-age children to Harvey Auditorium to see BMT's live productions. The Kids Go to Theatre program lives on today at Stars Theatre Restaurant and through a partnership with the Bakersfield City School District. In 1992, the organization introduced the BMT Summer Workshop, producing children’s musical productions each year. Then, in 2003, BMT opened its School of the Performing Arts, creating classes and performance groups, enrolling 331 students in two summer sessions and an additional 100 students in the fall and spring workshops.
BMT has provided a community service for 50 years by bringing the best in entertainment using local talent. Many of the performers who have graced the BMT stages over the years began their theatrical career by performing in Stars School of the Performing Arts programs for children. BMT's longevity is a strong indication of its long term success.
Stars Theatre Restaurant - 1931 Chester Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93301
Since 1989, Stars Theatre Restaurant has been BMT’s “dinner theatre,” offering a gourmet meal at each performance. Since 1999, performances have been held at the 150-seat Stars Theatre Restaurant venue, located in the historic Bank of America building at 20th and Chester Avenue, in the heart of Bakersfield's Arts District. Stars Theatre Restaurant features the talents of Kern County’s finest performers and musicians.
Stars Cafe and Lounge - 1931 Chester Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93301
Located inside Stars Theatre Restaurant. Our cafe is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11a.m. to 2 p.m. The lounge is open prior to, during, and after performances for your enjoyment. Proceeds from cafe and lounge benefit the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and its mission.
Stars Playhouse - 2756 Mosasco Street, Bakersfield, CA 93312
BMT’s newest venture in the arts. Stars Playhouse was started in 2017 (known then as Stars West) as a way to produce small comedies and plays. Stars Playhouse performs in the Stars School of the Performing Arts venue in Rosedale. The 50-seat venue ensures a unique and intimate theatre-going experience.
Stars School of the Performing Arts
In 1992, BMT started the BMT Summer Workshop for ages 6-18. A morning and afternoon session each produced two musicals each summer. In 2000, a third workshop was added, bringing in an additional 300 young performers each year. Students learn from professionals and experts in the fields of drama, dance and music. Their instruction culminates in two public performances following each workshop session. In 2014, BMT moved its educational operations to the Stars School of the Performing Arts facility located in northwest Bakersfield. Currently, the school offers its annual summer workshops and Stars Elite program.
Kids Go to Theatre Program
The Kids Go To Theatre program was started in 1993 and since that time more than 140,000 local school children have attended close to 240 live performances presented by BMT. Teachers and administrators have expressed appreciation for the opportunity to expose young students to the enriching experience that live theatre offers, particularly in the areas of literature, history, and the arts. To help teachers meet the California Standard for Fine Arts, they receive lesson plans relating to the production prior to the viewings and appropriate for their students. Students served by this program are often considered to be economically disadvantaged, and this experience, in many cases, is their very first exposure to live theatre and the arts. This program is offered at no cost to the students.