Producers Associates, Inc. will open the 44th season of the Woodminster Summer Musicals with the Broadway hit, Hairspray, which opened on Broadway in 2002 and ran until 2009. The musical takes place in 1962 Baltimore, where the dreams of a teenage girl play themselves out in equal parts social commentary and lively dance numbers. Loveable plus-size heroine, Tracy Turnblad, wins a spot on the local TV dance program, and overnight she finds herself transformed from outsider to teen celebrity. The musical’s original Broadway productions won eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score for the Theatre. The London production was nominated for a record-setting eleven Laurence Olivier Awards, winning for Best New Musical and in three other categories.
According to Harriet Schlader, Woodminster’s Managing Director, “Our audiences vote for the shows they’d like to see, and ‘Hairspray’ was the top vote-getter several years in a row. Finally the show is available for production by regional theaters, and we’re very excited to be the first resident Bay Area theater to produce it.”
Woodminster’s Hairspray is directed by Joel Schlader. Choreography is by Bong Dizon, with vocal direction by Kim Vetterli. The orchestra is composed of members of Musicians’ Local #6, conducted by Richard Vetterli. The leading role of Tracy Turnblad will be played by Serena Cefalu of New York, and her mother, Edna Turnblad, by Woodminster favorite Greg Carlson of Alameda. The cast of 35 includes professional and non-professional actors from 17 different Bay Area cities, southern California, New Jersey, and New York. The Woodminster general auditions for 2010 attracted over 300 actors.
The Woodminster Summer Musicals are performed under the stars at Woodminster Amphitheater, an open-air performance facility in Joaquin Miller Park high in the Oakland Hills. The park’s spectacular views and serene woodsy environment made it the perfect setting for the amphitheater, cascades, reflecting pool, and paths that were originally built as a WPA project in 1939-40. For many East Bay families, it is a long-standing summer tradition to enjoy a picnic in the park and then see a musical at Woodminster.
Producers Associates, Inc. was founded in 1967 by the late James Schlader and his wife Harriet to provide affordable live summer family entertainment in the East Bay, and to foster a love of live theatre. For more than four decades, the organization, in partnership with the Oakland Park and Rec Department, has been producing summer musicals at Woodminster Amphitheater. Healthy season tickets sales, attendance by groups, and special opportunities for families have made Woodminster shows the best attended performances in Oakland. Today, it sells the highest number of individual tickets of any of the major resident performing arts organizations in the city.
Hairspray plays at 8 p.m. on July 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, and 18. Tickets are $25-$40, with discounts for seniors, half-price tickets for groups of 25, and season tickets that offer a savings of about 15%. The organization continues its “Kids Come Free” program, where children and teens 16 or younger who are attending with paying adults can get free tickets on performance nights.
New for 2010, the organization has instituted a $10 Preview Night as part of its ongoing effort to offer affordable ways for people in the community to enjoy live theater. The last dress rehearsal (July 8, 8 p.m. for Hairspray) will be open to the public. All tickets are $10, with no further discounts, and all seating is open, first-come, first-served. There will be no advance sales for Preview performances. Tickets will be available only at the box office on the night of the Preview performance. For more information about the 2010 season or history of the organization, visit www.woodminster.com.