Opera Taking Off in Alameda

Rhythmix Cultural Works on Blanding will soon be the venue for Virago Theatre’s presentation of “Madama Butterfly” on March 31, April 7 and April 15.

The Virago production, based on the Giacomo Puccini’s masterpiece, is directed by Robert Lundy-Paine.

The show stars soprano Eileen Meredith and a cast of Bay Area favorites. Maestro Jerry Kuderna conducts the Shameless Passion orchestra for this limited run of Puccini’s best-loved opera about the relationship between a Japanese woman and a U.S. serviceman.

It will be celebrated with a champagne opening at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, and evening shows at 8 p.m. on the following two Saturdays. Tickets are $20-$30.

The production is sponsored by Perforce Software of Alameda. (It will also be performed at the Hillside Club in Berkeley on April 20 and 22.)


Spring, Summer Camp Programs Available

The Alameda Education Foundation says it’s time to sign kids up for spring break and summer programs that promise to boost their academic, athletic, creative and social development. Kids in kindergarten through 12th grade can participate.

As for spring-break camps, they are set for April 2-5, and include a flight academy, soccer academy, and performing arts and digital-media arts. Visit the Alameda Education Foundation’s website for more information.

Summer-camp registration, which started March 13 and is still open, includes programs in Mandarin and Spanish, middle-school math, carpentry, circus arts, marine science, soccer and other topics. The camps are taught by professional staff, and they are open to all students, regardless of residency or school attendance.

Sarah Olaes, director of enrichment for AEF, says that many families used to have to travel off the Island to find such diverse camp programs. Now, by partnering with the Alameda Unified School District and the Alameda Parks and Recreation Department, that’s no longer the case.

“All the camps, except soccer, will be at Lincoln Middle School, and soccer will be just down the street at the Lincoln Park field,” Olaes explained in a statement. “In the future, AEF hopes to offer even more academic classes, especially for middle and high school students, so that students will have more opportunities in academics than they can get just during the school year.”

Also, AEF continues to offer after-school enrichment at school sites while the school year is in session. This program was expanded to the middle-school level during the present academic year, with classes such as Mandarin and woodworking.


Musical-Theater Buffs Can Audition This Weekend

Musical performers in and around the Island take note: Woodminster Summer Musicals in the Oakland Hills will soon begin practicing for its 46th Season at Joaquin Miller Park, which will feature “Fiddler On The Roof,” “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum,” and “CATS.” Auditions will take place this weekend, March 31 and April 1.

Woodminster shows are performed by a combination of professional actors and skilled non-professionals. The 2012 season offers over a hundred roles in three shows. AEA members should call 510-339-0241 to schedule an appointment.

Auditions for non-Equity actors will be at Woodminster Amphitheater in Joaquin Miller Park. Use the main park entrance at 3300 Joaquin Miller Blvd., and bear left, go up and over the hill, and then downhill all the way to the bottom parking lot. Sign in at the stage door.

There will be roles for some young teens in “Fiddler on the Roof.” Young actors who look at least 13 or 14 should attend the general auditions.

Dance auditions are taking place on Saturday, March 31, at 10 a.m., at Woodminster Amphitheater
, as well as on Sunday, April 1, at 10 a.m. at Joaquin Miller Community Center, 3594 Sanborn Drive (at entrance to Joaquin Miller Park). 

Singing auditions are set for Saturday, March 31, 1-4 p.m., and Sunday, April 1, from 1-4 p.m.
 Performers are asked to prepare 16 bars each of two contrasting songs and bring music in the key you will sing it. An accompanist will be provided (and required) for all singers.

Performers are also asked to attend Saturday or Sunday, not both. (Actors who are attending both dance and singing auditions may choose to do them on the same day, or one each day.)

Traditionally, several Alameda residents and public school teachers have performed lead and other roles in the shows.


Apply Soon for Youth Programs in Japan

The Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) is inviting interested youth to apply for its second-annual Takahashi Youth Ambassador Fellowship Program to Japan.

This unique two-year youth scholarship program, culminating with a trip to Japan in summer 2013 is open to 8-11th grade students interested in learning more about their Nikkei heritage, gaining valuable leadership skills, participating in their community, creating international friendships and experiencing culture first-hand through a 10-day trip to Japan.

There are two information sessions hosted on the program at the JCCCNC — 1840 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94115 — on Wednesday, April 4, from 6:30-8:00 p.m., and on Saturday, April 7, from 10:30 a.m. -12:00 p.m.. The group welcomes interested individuals and organizational representatives to attend.

Please RSVP by calling (415) 567-5505 or e-mail programs events if you are interested in attending one of the meetings. The application deadline is Friday, April 27.


Stormy Weather Means Great Kiteboarding

According to weather instruments at Encinal Avenue and Chestnut Street maintained by Boardsports School and Shop on Crown Beach, winds were as high as 27 miles an hours earlier today. That reading, at 10:40 a.m., was nearly matched by wind speeds of 25 miles per hour at 3:20 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27.

With the winds out of the south by southwest, there were plenty of boarders (in wetsuits, of course) out on the water taking advantage of the conditions. A few sailors also practiced maneuvers on the Bay near the Ballena Bay Yacht Harbor, where Club Nautique has an active sailboat training program.

And the surf was breaking on the jetty near the USS Hornet on Alameda Point.

All in all, the day included plenty of action for spectators and participants of watersports in and around the Island.


Alameda Gardeners Host Workshop

Alameda Backyard Growers (ABG) will host a worm-composting workshop from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. tonight, Tuesday, March 13, at Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave.

Lori Lue-Melero and daughter Mikayla Melero of MyvPetvWormyvWorm will discuss how garbage helps a garden grow in a fun, hands-on vermi-composting workshop for the whole family. Guests will learn how to turn food scraps into rich organic soil with the help of red wrigglers and how to care for the environment by recycling, re-purposing, and reusing items which would otherwise go into a landfill.

ABG meetings are held monthly from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., on the second Tuesday of each month at Rhythmix Cultural Works (unless otherwise noted). Monthly meetings/workshops are free and open to all residents of Alameda and the surrounding area. Gardeners of all experience levels are welcome.

Monthly meetings are when members drop off fruit and vegetable donations from their gardens to donate to the Alameda Food Bank. The group delivers members’ produce to the food bank the following morning, and donated produce is typically distributed to food bank clients within 24 hours.


Boat Show Now Open at Marina Village

The 4th annual Northern California Boat Fest is in full activity through March 4 at Marina Village Yacht Harbor. The festival is open on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For boat lovers and those looking into boating as a new sport or hobby, touring new and older boats for sale is a real treat. The docks and many boats are open, so visitors can tour the vessels and ask questions about their features.

The free event also includes displays with more than 100 sailboats and powerboats, as well as seminars, boat rides, music, food and product demonstrations. Guests can enjoy sailboat rides and pick up details on local sailing clubs and charter programs.

Today, the featured seminars include:
– 12:30 p.m., a talk on boat refrigeration and air-conditioning with Alan McDonnell;
– 2:00 p.m., a discussion on alternative boat ownership with Phil Albury of NauticShare; and
– 3:00 p.m., a presentation on sailing the coast of California and Mexico with Pat & Carole McIntosh.


Local Art Gallery’s Environmental Focus

What: Jon Kerpel’s Earth Jewels Exhibit
Where: Redux Studios & Gallery
Where: 2315 Lincoln Ave.
When: Through April 8, 2012

Alameda artist Jon Kerpel is displaying his environmentally themed artwork at Redux, a studio and set of galleries run by St. Vincent de Paul on Lincoln Avenue that highlights creative reuse and recycling.

“I’m privileged to have gotten this show, which includes 12 sculptures I’ve done in the past 12 months,” said Kerpel. “The temples and 30-plus other pieces on display are made of objects I’ve picked up at St. Vincent de Paul’s facility in East Oakland and elsewhere.”

Kerpel takes discarded materials and transforms them into colorful, challenging mixed-media creations. His work has been shown on this Island at the Alameda Main Library, Autobody Fine Art and Rhythmix Cultural Works, as well as in a show organized by the Oakland Museum of California and at Expressions Gallery in Berkeley.

“I found a great cabinet on a street in the East End near where I live,” said the artist, “and it became the base for the Sea Cathedral piece.”

For his themes, Kerpel turns to the natural world, building his temple-like creations in honor of polar bears, whales, lions, tigers and other beasts. “They’re all very precious, and people don’t always focus enough on them. My work is about affirmation and protecting the environment for the sake of our survival,” Kerpel said.

While the environment guides Kerpel’s themes, the work and lives of artists like Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti and clothing designer Ralph Lauren influence his methods and creativity, as well.

“This is the fourth show we’re having in our alternative space,” said Chris Rummell, the creative reuse and recycling manager for Redux and St. Vincent de Paul in Alameda County. “When I saw what Jon was doing in his studio I was very impressed, and we took it from there. It’s a very good collaboration.”

For school volunteer Pam Chang, the results of the artist’s effort is “mesmerizing.” “I saw it in the library and had to come in [to Redux],” she said. “It’s so tactile and beautiful. Plus, there’s the environmental theme for to appreciate.”

Kerpel’s show, Earth Jewels, will be on display at Redux, 2315 Lincoln Ave., through April 8. Redux is also hosting bee-keeping and upholstery workshops in March. See the gallery’s website for more details.