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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Community Theater: A great and familiar story

Oakland theatre company holds annual community performance, ice cream social

Kiana Bozeman as Marcy with her neighbors, from left: Grace Poon, Cynthia Carrico, Sidney George Jr., Ben Tucker,Miyoko Sakatani

Kiana Bozeman as Marcy with her neighbors, from left: Grace Poon, Cynthia Carrico, Sidney George Jr., Ben Tucker,Miyoko Sakatani

By Vanessa Rancano

Oakland’s Stagebridge Theatre Company is hosting its 21st Annual Family Matinee and Ice Cream Social this weekend.

On Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. the senior theatre company will present “City Green,” a heartwarming musical focused on urban renewal and community action.

Stagebridge’s musical adaptation of DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan’s children’s book incorporates audience participation, live music and a “dancing flower ballet.” Composer Daniel Savio has created a Motown and funk-inspired score for the production, which he performs live, and artistic director Josiah Polhemus has seniors donning flower costumes pirouetting on stage.

“City Green” depicts Marcy and her Brooklyn neighbors. When a building demolition creates a vacant lot in her neighborhood, little Marcy begins a beautification effort. Other neighbors soon join in and the space is transformed into a community garden. Even Old Man Hammer, the resident curmudgeon, eventually takes to the spirit of renewal.

What we really love about it is that there’s this wonderful community garden movement happening in the East Bay,” Tamara Miller, marketing director for Stagebridge, said.

DiSalvo-Ryan will be at both performances discussing her book before the play and answering questions afterwards. She’ll be available to sign books and chat during the ice cream social.

“She’s really excited about this musical,” Miller said, noting that Polhemus worked with the author throughout the adaptation process.

This week, Stagebridge is taking the show to various Bay Area schools for on-campus performances. The theatre also is hosting a few local schools for shows at its Harrison Street home.

Only the two performances this weekend are open to the public. Ticket sales go towards production costs, though Miller said the sales will not cover all expenses.

“This isn’t a money making event for Stagebridge,” she said. “It’s something we’re doing for the community.”

The 33-year-old theatre company is a nonprofit organization that provides performing arts instruction to seniors. Stagebridge also uses acting techniques to train caregivers in an insightful, empathetic approach to eldercare and runs a storytelling program that targets at-risk students at Bay Area schools.

If You Go

When: 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 10-11

Where: Stagebridge, 2501 Harrison St. in Oakland

Tickets: $15 general admission, $5 children 12 and under

Box Office/Details: Visit Brown Paper Tickets here, stagebridge.org or call (510) 444-4755 Ext. 114. For group ticket sales call Jamie Flaherty-Evans at (510) 444-4755 Ext. 122.


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