NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodBakersfield


"It's all about the glitz, glamour and fun." Local designer sews one of his last major productions downtown

Posted at 5:28 AM, Jun 20, 2024
  • Video shows designer Roger Upton describing his love for the theater. He's designed costumes for hundreds of shows, and one of his last major productions closes this weekend.
  • Upton says he first started designing sets and costumes in Oildale when he was still in high school. Since then, he's worked on numerous local and national productions, carefully designing each costume piece.
  • He says the Kern County community has filled the seats of many theaters over the years. "They like to see a full-on production, and they appreciate it. Therefore, I appreciate them," Upton said.


The curtain is beginning to close on a local designer's decades-long career. 23ABC's Grace Laverriere met with him to learn about his final major production.

“I've designed over 850 shows in my career," Roger Upton said. "A couple of years ago, I designed 15 shows in ten months.”

Roger Upton’s career in theater first began in Oildale in the 1970s. Threads of his design style have been part of hundreds of shows across the county, state and even stretching internationally, he said. This year, he’s starting to ease into retirement.

When we spoke, he preferred to have the camera focused on the costumes rather than on him.

All of the costumes seen on the rack scratch the surface of the colorful array of pieces in the show, and they were all carefully designed by Roger.

“I guess I kind of lean toward that. It’s all about the glitz and glamour and the fun, although I’ve done all kinds of shows.”

The fun is on full display in his last major production,La Cage aux Folles, on stage now at the Ovation Theatre.

“You can tell just by looking at the set that it is Roger’s love story to theatre, design and all things glitz and glam,” Sara Gervais said.

Gervais is in the ensemble of the show, but she tells me she’s worked with Roger throughout her own career in theatre. When she heard this was going to be one of Roger’s final shows…

“I couldn’t miss the opportunity to wear one of his amazing costumes," Gervais said. "I’m so happy that I have the privilege to work with him, but it’s going to be a very sad day without a Roger costume in my life.”

Roger says he’s seen the theater scene in Bakersfield evolve throughout his career, and he appreciates the community that is together both on and off the stage.

“All in all it’s still a family, and eventually they all come back together," Upton said. "

"La Cage aux Folles" closes this weekend at Ovation Theatre. To view the schedule and purchase tickets, visit the theatre's website at this link.

Stay in Touch with Us Anytime, Anywhere: