‘Cats’ a must-see at Oakland hills’ Woodminster

MONTCLARION: Sept 14, 2012

My cat is a night owl. She slips out at dusk on our mild, moonlit eves and doesn’t return until dawn. Where she goes, nobody knows — until now.

Seeing the performance of “Cats” at the Woodminster Theater opened my eyes to her escapades. Cats of all stripes took the stage Sept. 7 for a marvelous moondance and prance. The performance was perfect for a summer musical under the stars at one of Oakland’s real treasures — the little theater in the redwoods.

With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by T.S. Elliot (based on his Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats), this play is prrr-fect for an outdoor performance. As the cats slink and stretch in their junkyard set, their personalities unfold in front of you. It’s no wonder Leonardo da Vinci spent so much time studying cats and their movements. They’re the most graceful of creatures as they make their nightly rounds.

Several things make this play a must-see experience. The celestial outdoor setting, the costumes and choreography, and the live orchestra playing stirring favorites such as ‘Memory’. Oakland designer Christine Weiland created the costumes, and they are — in a word — spectacular. Each of the 30 “cats” wears a colorful full-body leotard with a head built from fabric and hundreds of pieces of yarn.

This is the last weekend for “Cats” at the Woodminster Theater. In fact, the summer musical season ends with the Sunday night performance. For tickets, photos and moreinformation, see www.woodminster.com.

Around town: Lee Bayless, the longtime owner of Snips on College Avenue, has died. He was a quiet, no-nonsense stylist who could cut a child’s hair in 15 minutes — with no tears. Moms liked the retro Mickey Mouse TV in his shop and the selection of toys for the kids. Snips remains open, and is being run by the owner of the nearby 17 Jewels Salon.

Meanwhile, the town of Canyon is welcoming new neighbors to its eclectic enclave. A community of Carmelite nuns is setting up a temporary monastery on the McCosker ranch, intent on living a cloistered life of contemplation and prayer. The Sisters of the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph rely purely on donations to meet their needs. They don’t teach or work with a charity — they live simply to pray for our world. There are already five sisters living on the ranch and a second group is scheduled to arrive in late September.

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