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  • WOODMINSTER SUMMER MUSICALS

    Oakland's Broadway in the Redwoods Since 1967

    Woodminster Summer Musicals: A History

    Slideshow 50 years of Woodminster musicals

    See a slideshow including images and musical memories from all 50 years of Woodminster Summer Musicals or click on a specific decade below to see just 10 years worth at a time.

    High in the Oakland Hills, with sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay and surrounding cities, is the beautiful 500-acre Joaquin Miller Park. The park is home to one of the only urban second-growth redwood groves in existence, as well as miles of trails, picnic grounds, and a WPA-era art deco construction that includes pools, cascades, and the Woodminster Amphitheater.

     

    Designed by a team headed by Oakland Park Superintendent William Mott Jr and built as a WPA project, Woodminster Amphitheater and Cascades were dedicated in 1940 as a memorial to California writers. The trees and other vegetation along the Cascades, planted by horticulturist and design team member Lionel Sprattling, are designated Writers Memorial Grove, and individual plantings are dedicated to California’s great authors, including Joaquin Miller as well as Bret Harte, Jack London, Mark Twain, Dashiell Hammet, Ina Coolbrith, and many others. This is a fitting tribute, since so many of them visited this spot when the famously eccentric “Poet of the Sierras,” Joaquin Miller, owned this land.

     

    Woodminster Amphitheater is a city-owned venue, and from the beginning was used for a variety of concerts and other performances.  In the 1950s, the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department began producing musicals and operettas in the amphitheater, and continued into the mid-1960s, when the program ended for a variety of reasons.  Around that time, Jim and Harriet Schlader moved to the area -- after Broadway careers -- to raise their growing family in California.  They were approached about lending their expertise to reinvigorating Oakland's summer theater under the stars, and Producers Associates was born and produced its first show in 1967.  This nonprofit arts organization has now been presenting the Woodminster Summer Musicals continuously for 50 years.  Producers Associates presents at least 3 big Broadway-style musicals in the facility each summer, with shows running in July, August, and September, and is Oakland's longest continually running live theater.

     

    Oakland has been one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country for decades, but in the 1970s, racial segregation was still a fact of life in the city.  The Schladers fought that attitude with art, producing shows that would challenge the status quo, such as No Strings (which dealt with an interracial romance) in 1970, and an Oklahoma with African Americans in leading roles in 1975.

     

    A uniquely American art form, American musical theatre has evolved considerably over the decades. Producers Associates has always remained true to its mission of presenting big, entertaining musicals from various eras. For many Oaklanders, Woodminster was their first exposure to live theatre, and they remember being brought there as children for a picnic supper and the summertime magic of music under the stars. Some of these families have been sitting in the same seats for 3 generations, and evenings at Woodminster are an annual tradition.

     

    Woodminster offers a Kids Come Free program, designed to make live theater affordable for families, and several thousand free tickets are given to children and teens each season.  Half price group tickets have made the musicals an annual fundraiser and/or social outings for more than 100 Bay Area organizations, including the Oakland East Bay Symphony, Coast Guard Auxiliary, United Way, EDD, Rotary, Lions, and a number of other service organizations, church groups, neighborhood groups, etc. In 2016, the organization has inaugurated a half-price program for young theater-goers aged 16-30, as a friendly investment in the next 50 years.

     

    Woodminster Summer Musicals offers paying work to professional actors, musicians, designers, choreographers, and technicians, as well as paying stipends and offering invaluable experience to teenage backstage interns and aspiring actors, singers, and dancers.  Over the last 50 years, the organization has presented 157 productions, entertaining about a million Woodminster Summer Musicals ticket holders.  The shows have been performed by more than 5000 actors, over 20% of them members of Actors Equity Association, making the organization one of the Bay Area's most reliable employers of professional actors.  The musicals have always been performed with live professional orchestras, which have included 23 different conductors and over 1800 members of Musicians Local #6.  In addition, the organization has employed 25 professional set designers, 17 lighting designers, 24 costume designers, 6 sound technicians, 18 choreographers, 6 directors, and over 1,500 young backstage interns.

     

    The Woodminster Summer Musicals are produced with the support of a dedicated Advisory Board of Directors, long-time East Bay residents and community boosters. Over the years, Producers Associates' tenancy has helped keep the amphitheater and surrounding area maintained, discouraged vandalism, and made a number of substantial improvements to the performance facility, including audience seating as well as improved lighting and sound systems. They have worked with the Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation and the City’s Parks department to facilitate a number of other improvements, and have kept their organization financially solvent for 37 years while contributing to the artistic vitality and economic health of the City of Oakland.

     

    Producers Associates, Inc. is a nonprofit arts organization (Tax ID #94-1688232)?and depends on tax-deductible contributions to supplement ticket sales. Woodminster is proud to have the support of hundreds of individuals as well as many local businesses and corporations, large and small, whose contributions help us keep live theater affordable for the families of our community.

    • First decade: 1967-1976

      SLIDESHOW 1st DECADE

      See a slideshow including images and musical memories from the shows during the first decade of the Woodminster Summer Musicals.

      1967

      South Pacific

      The Music Man

      Paint Your Wagon

      Kiss Me Kate

       

      1968

      Finian’s Rainbow

      How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying

      Sound of Music

       

      1969

      The Most Happy Fella

      The King and I

      A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

       

      1970

      Li’l Abner

      No Strings

      Plain and Fancy

       

      1971

      The Music Man

      Hello, Dolly!

      Oliver

       

      1972

      Fiddler On The Roof

      Mame

      1776

       

      1973

      Man Of La Mancha

      Promises Promises

      The Rothschilds

       

      1974

      Carnival

      The Desert Song

      Brigadoon

       

      1975

      My Fair Lady

      Oklahoma!

      The Student Prince

       

      1976

      1776

      Annie Get Your Gun

      Showboat

       

    • Second decade: 1977-1986

      SLIDESHOW 2nd Decade

      See a slideshow including images and musical memories from the shows during the second decade of the Woodminster Summer Musicals.

      1977

      West Side Story

      Pajama Game

      Carousel

       

      1978

      Call Me Madam

      Gypsy

      The Merry Widow

       

      1979

      New Moon

      Guys and Dolls

      Once Upon A Mattress

       

      1980

      Fiddler On The Roof

      A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

      Finian’s Rainbow

       

      1981

      Oliver

      No! No! Nanette

      The Sound of Music

       

      1982

      South Pacific

      Anything Goes

      The Music Man

       

      1983

      Camelot

      Little Me

      Paint Your Wagon

       

      1984

      Unsinkable Molly Brown

      Shenandoah

      Annie

       

      1985

      Damn Yankees

      Kismet

      George M

       

      1986

      Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

      Oklahoma!

      Evita

    • Third decade:  1987-1996

      SLIDESHOW 3rd Decade

      See a slideshow including images and musical memories from the shows during the third decade of the Woodminster Summer Musicals.

      1987

      Julius Caesar

      The Devil’s Disciple

      On The Town

      Man Of La Mancha

      Most Happy Fella

       

      1988

      Richard III

      Matchmaker

      Brigadoon

      Bye Bye Birdie

      The Student Prince

       

      1989

      Charley’s Aunt

      42nd Street

      Pirates Of Penzance

      My Fair Lady

       

      1990

      You Can’t Take It With You

      Hello, Dolly!

      Cabaret

      A Chorus Line

       

      1991

      1776

      On Your Toes

      Big River

       

      1992

      How to Succeed in Business...

      West Side Story

      Carnival

       

      1993

      Anything Goes

      Flower Drum Song

      Me and My Girl

       

      1994

      Gigi

      Shenandoah

      Into the Woods

       

      1995

      The Will Rogers Follies

      South Pacific

      Good News

       

      1996

      Fiddler On The Roof

      The Music Man

      City Of Angels

    • Fourth Decade: 1997-2006

       SLIDESHOW 4th Decade

      See a slideshow including images and musical memories from the shows during the fourth decade of the Woodminster Summer Musicals.

      1997

      Sayonara

      Man Of La Mancha

      The Secret Garden

       

      1998

      Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor? Dreamcoat

      42nd Street

      Ain’t Misbehavin'

       

      1999

      Grease

      Guys And Dolls

      Forever Plaid

       

      2000

      Camelot

      Sophisticated Ladies

      Bye Bye Birdie

       

      2001

      Carousel

      Barnum

      My Fair Lady

       

      2002

      Sound Of Music

      The Wiz

      1776

       

      2003

      Kiss Me Kate

      Evita

      Singin' In The Rain

       

      2004

      Annie

      Will Rogers Follies

      Flower Drum Song

       

      2005

      Oklahoma!

      Hello, Dolly!

      Jesus Christ Superstar

       

      2006

      Ragtime

      The King and I

      Disney's Beauty and the Beast

    • Fifth Decade: 2007-2016

       SLIDESHOW 5th Decade

      See a slideshow including images and musical memories from the shows during the fifth decade of the Woodminster Summer Musicals.

      2007

      West Side Story

      The Wizard of Oz

      Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor? Dreamcoat

       

      2008

      Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

      Seussical

      The Pirates of Penzance

       

      2009

      Peter Pan

      Singin' In The Rain

      Brigadoon

       

      2010

      Hairspray

      The Music Man

      Paint Your Wagon

       

      2011

      Oliver!

      My Fair Lady

      Finian's Rainbow

       

      2012

      Fiddler on the Roof

      A Funny Thing Happened...Forum

      Cats

       

      2013

      Little Shop of Horrors

      Annie Get Your Gun

      A Chorus Line

      Legally Blonde

       

      2014

      Les Misérables

      Catch Me If You Can

      Flower Drum Song

       

      2015

      Mary Poppins

      The Producers

      Tim Rice & Elton John's Aida

       

      2016

      Shrek The Musical

      Chicago

      La Cage aux Folles

       

    • SIXTH DECADE: 2017-2026

    • join our board of directors

      The Woodminster Summer Musicals are produced with the support of a dedicated Advisory Board of Directors, long-time East Bay residents and community arts boosters. Over the years, Producers Associates' tenancy has helped keep the amphitheater and surrounding area maintained, discouraged vandalism, and made a number of substantial improvements to the performance facility, including audience seating as well as improved lighting and sound systems. They have worked with the Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation and the City’s Park & Rec Department to facilitate a number of other improvements, and have kept their organization financially solvent for 50 years while contributing to the artistic vitality and economic health of the City of Oakland.  All new members serve for one or more years as Associate Board members to learn about the organization and find their strengths as Woodminster supporters before moving onto the Advisory Board.

       

      More information and a list of current board members.

      Please contact
      Harriet Schlader if you may be interested.

       

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    Woodminster Summer Musicals produced in cooperation with the City of Oakland Parks & Recreation Department. Logo designed by Joanne Romeo.

    ? 2020 Producers Associates Inc.

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