News • November 14, 2022

CBU bringing a ‘Joyful Noise’ to the stage

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Riverside, Calif. (Nov. 14, 2022) – The theatre program at California Baptist University will perform a “Joyful Noise” as its second production of the semester. It opens Nov. 18.

This 1700s-period piece, based on real events and people, follows the life of composer George Frederick Handel as he attempts to present his opera “The Messiah” amid opposition from the church. The story also follows Susannah Cibber, a woman caught in an abusive marriage who becomes involved in the opera.

“The play has a story of redemption that glorifies our need for a Savior in a broken world, and that is something we think a CBU audience would resonate with,” said Zachary Bortot, associate professor of theatre and director of the production.

For this production, Bortot is working alongside a cast and crew of eight student actors, three student stage managers and several behind-the-scenes technicians. As director, he dived into research on the script, which helped him coach the actors in learning their roles.

“My goal as a director is to provide this big vision that everyone can jump on board with,” Bortot said. “What I do tell the actors is that by the time we open, hopefully they become the experts on their specific character.”

Shane Moser, a theatre senior, plays Handel. Prepping for the role looked different from other shows because it required research into who Handel was, Moser said. Also, since Handel lived during the 1700s, there are limited resources about him.

“It’s very different [from] a normal role because he was a person,” Moser said. “Everyone in the show is a person, not just a character that was made up. We’ve had to be very specific on how we’ve gone about this.”

Since the production features German, Irish and British characters, the actors have worked with a dialect coach to master accents, which has been challenging but rewarding for the students, including Moser, who had to learn a German accent.

“When you are trying to mimic these sounds that are not natural to you, it’s difficult to do that and focus on the acting itself,” Bortot said.

Jennifer Palacios-Cardenas, a theatre senior, plays Kitty Clive, an antagonistic figure in the story. She uses several methods to get into character, from running lines in a corset and hoop skirt to finding ways to relate to her character.

“I have learned that even if a character is completely the opposite of myself, there are still elements of myself that are in the character, so really it’s still a piece of me I am putting on that stage,” Palacios-Cardenas said. “This character is very feisty and she’s mean and she’s loud, and that’s the opposite of what I am, but I can be that way sometimes and I think I’ve had to learn she’s not the opposite of me.”

Eden Sides, a theatre senior, plays Susannah Cibber. Sides is looking forward to putting on a show that is entertaining while also highlighting darker, more serious themes such as the mistreatment Susannah undergoes at the hands of her husband.

“Some parts of Susannah’s story are uncomfortable or can even be triggering for some people, but it still needs to be talked about,” Sides said. “This still happens. Her story is someone’s story today, so it’s still relevant.”

“Joyful Noise” will touch on the story of Christ and emphasize that redemption is always possible, propelling the CBU community into the Christmas spirit, Bortat said.

“It is this story about redemption and overcoming both our personal demons and the demons of the world that would seek to destroy us and persisting in order to find human thriving on the other side of those trials and tribulations,” Bortot said.

Joyful Noise

When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18-19; Dec. 1-2; 2 p.m. Nov. 19, Dec. 3

Where: Wallace Theatre, California Baptist University, 8432 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, CA, 92504

For tickets or more information, please visit

Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504