August 29, 2008

Not Too Early to Be Thinking of Christmas Entertainment

By Margot Abbott VALLEY TIMES

I HOPE YOU ENJOYED and are enjoying the real-life drama of the Olympics and the two conventions. Speechifying is an old, old American art form that has taken it on the chin in recent times. I've always been interested in good speech makers, just from a theatrical point of view, and must admit I get pretty disgusted with politicians who aren't any good at it. Seems like a must-have talent!

I know it's too early to mention Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker," but dance groups have to plan ahead. Valley Dance Theatre has announced auditions for the male roles in the full-length production of the holiday favorite, which will be performed at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore from Dec. 13-21.

The auditions for boys ages 6 to 12 are scheduled to take place at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Valley Dance Theatre studio, 2247 Second St., Suite B, Livermore. For this age group, no previous experience is required.

For men, ballet experience is a requirement. Dancers 12 and older audition at 8 p.m. Sept. 15 at the studio. For more information, call director Betsy Hausburg at 925-243-0925.

Valley Dance Theatre is another Tri-Valley performing arts group that has benefited from the move to the Bankhead Theatre. Last year, "The Nutcracker" had an audience of more than 5,000 during its run there. The company also does a production in the spring.

Find out more about the company at

THERE'S ANOTHER KIND of audition at the Alviso Adobe Community Park in Pleasanton. Well, the Museum on Main Street and the Amador Livermore Valley Historical Society call it a "volunteer opportunity."

The new seven-acre park is opening very soon on Foothill Road, and both organizations have exciting plans for the site, the history of which is long and varied. The groups hope to teach us all more about where we live.

What is needed is people to take part as re-enactors, or "historically attired docents," as the notice read. You can choose your costume and your period, and you'll get plenty of training. You'll be able to make history live for visitors to the park, and you'll get to act on your feet!

Let's face it, most of us got into acting because we liked to pretend and got too old to continue playing Jedi knights or Davy Crockett. OK, I know I'm aging myself a lot, but you know what I mean. Ask the thousands of Civil War re-enactors!

There are plenty of other positions, including non-acting-types. Applications and additional information are available at Pleasanton's Museum On Main Street, 603 Main St.; or at the Pleasanton Library, 400 Old Bernal Ave. You can also contact Heather H. Rizzoli at the museum or call 925-462-2766.

THE MISSION of The San Ramon Arts Foundation is to "Encourage, support, and promote the arts within the city of San Ramon and the San Ramon Valley." To accomplish that goal, the foundation has awarded its 2008 grants to several San Ramon organizations, including the San Ramon Valley School District's instrumental music department's Low Brass Day, which involves more than 100 musicians from 34 schools.

Wouldn't Harold Hill love them!

Also among performing arts groups, the city of San Ramon received grants to support children's and adult's productions, the Summer Concerts in Central Park, the Youth Symphony, as well as the San Ramon Community Theater.

"We are pleased to be able to support these organizations and individuals who provide the residents with opportunities to view, hear and experience the arts," said Mark Ballock, president of the foundation.

Amen to that!

Stay cool. To quote Cole Porter: "It's too darned hot!"

Reach Margot Abbott c/o the Times, P.O. Box 607, Pleasanton, CA 94566; or by e-mail at [email protected]

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