Tag Archives: Youth Musical Theater Company

After years of deferred maintenance, Berkeley asks nonprofits to pay for fixes

The Berkeley Rowing Club recently signed a 15-year lease with Berkeley for minimal rent in exchange for redoing the roof for. Photo:Berkeley Rowing Club
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After years of neglect, Berkeley has begun requiring nonprofit organizations renting buildings from the city to undertake and pay for long-deferred maintenance and capital improvements. About one dozen nonprofits have entered into lease negotiations with the Parks, Recreation and Waterfront department over the past few years. While a few of those leases have been signed, many have dragged on for two to four years and are still unsigned.

The nonprofits are facing a combined estimated repair budget of more than $2 million for their leased buildings – and some of them say they cannot afford to pay for the repairs. These deferred maintenance costs are separate from the more than $25.5 million needed to repair city-owned and occupied buildings and facilities.

All the leased facilities are located in city parks and rented by nonprofits such as the Berkeley Art Center, TheaterFIRST, the Youth Musical Theater Company, Ala Costa Services, Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program, the Berkeley Paddle and Rowing Club, The Berkeley Yacht Club, and the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club. … Continue reading »

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YMTC’s new original musical ‘Don’t Stop Me’ explores darker side of high school life

Photo: Francesca Paris
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“I think my weird might be weirder than yours,” sings Hannah Miller in Don’t Stop Me, Youth Musical Theater Company’s (YMTC) first original musical. The song, like the show itself, explores the high-school experience: the insecurity, powerlessness and pressure that can come with being a teenager in the generation that is coming of age today.

We’re at the rehearsals in YMTC’s new Aquatic Park space in Berkeley, and it’s just over a week before the curtains part on opening night. Actors are running through the second act of the show, which finally has a complete script, while members of the creative team – the directors, the playwright and the composer – jot down notes on the Google Doc that contains the script. They stop the performance at least once or twice a minute to make adjustments.

The two-year-long project is culminating into what promises to be a coherent and compelling production. The show’s script is technically “locked,” but that doesn’t stop Dave Malloy, former YMTC Director and award-winning Broadway composer, and playwright Krista Knight, from changing a phrase or adding a couple bars of music before the show hits the stage.

As Director Jennifer Boesing puts it: “Krista and Dave would keep changing it till the opening night if they had their way.” … Continue reading »

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YMTC ‘Fiddler’ cast learns lessons from Holocaust survivor

YSam with  Aya Nakashima, Rachel Cornejo, Laurel Schweidel, and Alana Goldberg, all cast members of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Photo: Courtesy of YMTC.
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What is Fiddler on the Roof? A charming love story (several love stories, really)? A family drama? A tale of religious/ethnic persecution?

To Jennifer Boesing, the director of the upcoming Youth Musical Theater Company’s production, it is all of these and much more. In her program notes, she says that it is “about the one constant in all of our lives: change. Resistance to change, despair about change, revolting for change, and celebration of change. It is about the necessary challenge of loss and rebirth. It is truly a celebration of what it means to be human.”

Celebrating what it means to be human met its greatest challenge of the 20th century in the years of the Holocaust. As part of the in-depth approach to theater that marks Boesing’s directorial style and that she encourages in her students, she invited Sam Genirberg, a Bay Area Holocaust survivor, to talk to the cast of 7th through 12th graders in the midst of their rehearsals Jan. 23 at their spiffy new rehearsal space on the southern end of Aquatic Park. … Continue reading »

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YMTC: Some enchanted singing (and dancing and acting)

The YMTC ensemble perform Thanksgiving Follies in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” at the El Cerrito Performing Arts Theater. Photo: David Greenberg and Katrinka Reinhart.
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If you want to see one of the liveliest, most vibrant and engaging musical productions to hit the East Bay in a while, head to the El Cerrito Performing Arts Theater this weekend.

The Youth Musical Theater Company’s revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “South Pacific” opened Friday, July 18, and features a cast of highly talented and dedicated young artists performing some of Broadway’s most memorable tunes: “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Bali Ha’i,” “There is Nothing  Like A Dame,” “Younger Than Springtime,” I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair,” “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy,” and the less well-known, but highly controversial in its day, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” (to hate). … Continue reading »

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Youth Musical Theater plans new West Berkeley home

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UPDATE, March 27: The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the move by the Youth Musical Theater Company to two buildings at West Berkeley’s Aquatic Park. Jennifer Boesing, the company’s artistic director, said she was “brimming with excitement.” Writing to the company’s community via email she said: “With the generous sponsorship of Berkeley-based Sogno Design Group and the Parks and Recreation Department, we will be renovating our new home over the spring and summer, with our 2014-2015 season programming and rehearsals beginning there in the fall. The result will be the creation of an exciting and vital artistic hub that serves YTMC and the larger Berkeley community.”

ORIGINAL STORY: A 10-year-old musical theater company serving local youth is one step closer to creating its first permanent home in West Berkeley’s Aquatic Park.

The Youth Musical Theater Company won preliminary approval Thursday night from Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board to create a new base for its operations on Bolivar Drive at the southern end of Aquatic Park. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Oaks Theatre efforts stall in negotiations

A local group spearheaded by Councilman Laurie Capitelli hopes to turn the Oaks Theater into a community arts space. Photo: Oaks Theater Consortium
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[Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:15 p.m. with additional information from Councilman Laurie Capitelli.]

A local consortium’s attempts to come to an agreement to use North Berkeley’s Oaks Theatre on Solano Avenue and convert it into a community arts performance space have thus far been unsuccessful, reports Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who has spearheaded those efforts.

Capitelli provided an update to his constituents via email Friday. He thanked those who had expressed support for the venture, which kicked off last fall.

Last year, Capitelli, along with the Youth Musical Theater Company, formed a task force — the Oaks Theater Consortium — to spearhead the campaign to renovate the auditorium to remove the wall that separates the two theaters, take out several hundred seats from the balcony, and rebuild the main stage as a single performance space. The idea would be to bring together a group of anchor tenants from a range of arts organizations, and also potentially to offer simulcast viewings of special events like the Academy Awards or the Super Bowl, as well as host film festivals or smaller symposiums or panels. … Continue reading »

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Last chance: Oaks Theatre survey; sketches revealed

Visions of how Solano Avenue's Oaks Theater could one day look. Illustration: Miguel Lievano
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The possible transformation into a performance space of the shuttered Oaks Theatre on Solano Avenue remains uncertain, but the final word on the deal could come sometime in November, according to several people involved with the transaction.

In the meantime, local real estate agent and council member Laurie Capitelli has been raising awareness, surveying the public and drumming up pledges of financial support to the tune of more than $120,000. … Continue reading »

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The Oaks Theatre may be reborn as performance space

Before the paint job (circa 2010). Photo: Jane Tierney
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The Oaks Theatre on Solano Avenue may be getting another lease at life.

City Councilman Laurie Capitelli and the Youth Musical Theater Company are launching a task force to transform the theater on Solano into a multi-use venue. The task force has already started reaching out to the numerous Berkeley arts organizations operating without a permanent space in the hopes of attracting a group of anchor tenants.

“We’d like to see some activity going on at the theater every night,” Capitelli, who represents the Solano Avenue area on the council, said. “Bringing in a simulcast of a Paris opera, having special events like the Academy Awards or the Super Bowl. We’re thinking of children’s matinee films, a summer series for kids who are out of school. Also panels, discussions, symposiums, etc.”

The Oaks Theatre has long been an anchor site on Solano Avenue, but it has sat dark and vacant for the past two years. It was built as a single-screen theater in 1925 and upgraded to two screens in 1973. Renaissance Rialto Theaters operated the Oaks between 1994 and 2005, and then the Metropolitan Theaters Corporation ran it until 2010. Merriment Media used the theater to show Bollywood flicks for several months in 2010, but the company lost its lease after it failed to pay rent for three months. … Continue reading »

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Wonderful Town: A high-energy, entertaining romp

Wreck and Nava
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By Sam Knobel

Youth Musical Theater Company has brought Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town to Berkeley’s Julia Morgan Theater, and it’s a feel-good, energetic musical with many memorable songs.

The musical, which first opened on Broadway in 1953 and won five Tony awards, was written by Joseph A. Fields and Jerome Chodorov with lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and music by Leonard Bernstein.

Based on the 1940 play My Sister Eileen, Wonderful Town tells the story of two sisters who leave their home town of Columbus, Ohio, to try to make it on their own in New York. Ruth (Lena Mayer), a shy and intelligent young woman who wants to be a writer, faces the publishing world of men and finds all doors closed to her. Eileen (Caitlin Cobb-Vialet), an outgoing, attractive actress, uses her wiles with men to get what she wants. Both struggle to find themselves and to find love. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

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PREPARE TO BE BEWITCHED   Thaisa Frank’s short fiction has been captivating readers for decades, even before the publication of her highly regarded and widely translated novel Heidegger’s Glasses. Now Frank has collected 61 old and new stories in Enchantment: New and Selected Stories, published this week by Berkeley’s Counterpoint Press. As Booklist puts it:”The title of this collection hints at its contents — delectable stories with touches of the surreal as well as many plot twists and surprises. From short-short story to novella, each narrative demonstrates mastery of the genre.” Frank will be reading from Enchantment at Mrs. Dalloway’s on College Avenue at 7:30 pm on Friday, July 13.

A SALUTE WOODY GUTHRIE  In 1988, Peter Glazer, the chair of UC Berkeley’s Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, wrote a musical based on the life and songs of Woody Guthrie. Almost 25 years later, Woody Guthrie’s American Song has been performed hundreds of times, on stages from Seattle to New York. Glazer himself has directed the award-winning play 25 times and his latest interpretation is playing at the Freight & Salvage Coffee House until July 22. On Saturday, July 14, the 100th anniversary of Guthrie’s birth, Glazer and the cast from the musical will hold an open house from 1 to 5 pm and perform some classics like “This Land is Your Land.” There will also be a discussion of Guthrie with Glazer. The Freight is also displaying the first public exhibit of The Kids Write to Woody . . . Woody Writes Back, letters Woody Guthrie wrote in the summer of 1955 when he was bed-ridden with Huntington’s Disease at Brooklyn State Hospital. A few dozen children attending a summer camp outside St. Louis had sent post cards to Guthrie, and he answered each one individually. … Continue reading »

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