December 16, 2002

THE WIND HOWLED ACROSS OUR HILLTOP Thursday night, acting as Master of Ceremonies for the swoop of dark clouds and soaking rain of our second winter storm. Friday morning, the berries on the toyon bushes had turned from bright red to deep cranberry, and sometime when I wasn't paying attention, the beautiful pink flowers of our Chinese silk tree gave way to clusters of crackly brown seedpods.

Oz, our big white kitty, is bigger still, his coat thickening to ward off the chill. He and our other cat, Mooch, as well as my sweet little Yorkie, Viva, are reluctant to take to the yard, starting at the rustles caused by the wind, greeting the raindrops with shivery distain. The shortest day of the year may be yet a week away, but winter has arrived in Sunol.

It is indeed a melancholy sort of morning as I write this, but a poster sits on my desk that cheers me immensely. The imminence of Winter Solstice also heralds the beginning of the Sunol Repertory Theatre season - it's 22nd year of producing supremely entertaining melodrama. Yay! That's right, folks, the director has selected a play, the board has heartily approved it, and auditions are coming right up. Here's the scoop:

Try-outs will be held Thursday, December 19 at 7 p.m. in the Sunol Glen School auditorium for "The Vile Veterinarian, or…How Much Is That Doggie with the Widow?" Even the name of this one brings to mind a "ba-da-bing" snare riff. I know, I know, the "Sopranos" have given ba-da-bing an x-rated association, but please, think Bob Hope, not Paulie Walnuts!

This pun-filled pet shop melodrama was written by Rachel Davidson and will be directed by SRT's longest playing player, Phil Mumford. Although he has participated in nearly every one of the troop's 21 shows, Phil continues to keep his day job as Sunol Glen's fifth-grade teacher. Mr. Director will be selecting the performers to fill 15 parts, including, of course, a couple of villains, a hero and heroine, and numerous wacky characters with names like Charlie Horse and Barbara Blacksheep.

Several SRT stars have been lured to its stage via this column, so if you are reading this and a little buzz of excitement stirred you, this year may be your turn to strut your stuff. Experience is not required, but a modicum of talent and a lot of commitment are necessary. Rehearsals are twice weekly, Tuesdays and Thursdays from early January until dress rehearsal - in front of an audience of area seniors - on March 7. Opening night is March 8, with performances continuing each Friday and Saturday night through March 29.

That's a big time commitment, but it is SO worth it if you can swing it. Not only is being part of an SRT production big-time fun, it's for a great cause. The profits fund a wonderful arts program at Sunol Glen, and repertory members often lend a hand when the school stages productions of its own. Just last week, SRT Technical Director Derek Johnson was working on lighting for tomorrow and Wednesday's student holiday program, and long-time costume and set designer Patti Balch has been painting the backdrop for the annual event for years.

Members of the theatre group have also taken on a new community service effort. SRT founder Tom Harland, this year's producer Diane Tiessen, Patti, Phil and others are working with a talented bunch at the Pleasanton Senior Center on "All Together Again." The Senior Players will present this cabaret dinner show on Friday, January 10 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, January 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the door for $9 for Pleasanton residents and $10 for non-residents for the Friday show, and $5 and $6 for Saturday's matinee. You can call 925-931-5365 for reservations.

As for the SRT production, you can show up at try-outs, and there are also openings for crew positions, including House Manager, stagehands, prompter, Stage Manager and more! Contact Diane Tiessen 925-862-2020 or come to the audition on December 19. You can also call Diane to reserve your place on the roster of SRT Patrons. A mailing will go out in the next few weeks, and if you haven't received one in the past, jump in and get your name on the list.

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