Town Crier: Woodminster musicals deserve support

MONTCLARION: July 22, 2015

Nights like this make me grateful to live in Oakland. I’m sipping white wine under a purplish sky kissed by a crescent moon. In a few minutes, one of my favorite productions will come to life on the stage below. “Mary Poppins” will soar across the sky and land light-footed in a home where her magic is sorely needed.

Woodminster Amphitheater and its nearby cascades were built as a tribute to writers, but it’s the theater that’s brought fans here since 1967. That was the year Jim and Harriet Schlader first began producing Broadway musicals at Woodminster.

Seeing a play at this Oakland hills gem is like opening a time capsule and letting fond memories wash over you. It’s a constant — in a world that sometimes seems unrecognizable.

But we should never take treasures for granted. The stewardship belongs to all of us, and the Schladers need our help. They’ve raised $15,000-plus on the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter and will be able to purchase a new sound system. Now, we need to fill the house for the next two productions.

Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” runs Aug. 7-16 and the triumphant love story “Aida” shows Sept. 4-13. That’s the end of the summer run for Woodminster’s 49th season. Save the dates on your calendar now. For more information, go to:

Joyful noise: The Baptists and Greeks held a joyous celebration Sunday inside one of Oakland’s landmark churches. It’s been 50 years since the Corinthian Baptist Congregation bought the little white church with the dome on top — built in 1927 — as the East Bay’s first Greek-American house of worship. The building has had several lives, having been saved from the wrecking ball and moved to make way for the 980 freeway. Learn more about the history of this Castro Street landmark at the Ascension Historical Society website at

Musical notes: An Oakland band is bringing back the music of country legends Patsy Cline and George Jones. I caught “Crying Time” at the Orinda Community Library a few weeks ago, and they’re really good. Singer Jill Rogers and her brother, bass player Peter Garellick, grew up in Los Angeles, singing pop radio hits from the 1970s but later moved to classic country. Along the way they added guitarist Myles Boisen and more recently, drummer Tim Rowe. You can hear “Crying Time” at Rooz Cafe, 1918 Park Blvd. at 7 p.m. Aug. 14. Take a listen now at

Animal tales: Cats. They’re not just for catching mice. Reader Karen Avery’s kitty can also shred paper better than most of the document shredders you find on the market today. It comes in handy with unwanted credit card offers, but Avery admits that her feline friend can make mistakes. The other day kitty started shredding a government document. If the cat keeps this up, she’ll have a future in politics.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at


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