Woodminster Summer Musicals: A History

See a slideshow including images and musical memories from all 50 years of Woodminster Summer Musicals. (About half an hour long.)  Or click on a specific decade below to see just 10 years worth at a time.  Slideshow 50 years of Woodminster musicals

High in the Oakland Hills, with sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay and surrounding cities, is the beautiful 500-acre Joaquin Miller Park. The park is home to one of the only urban second-growth redwood groves in existence, as well as miles of trails, picnic grounds, and a WPA-era art deco construction that includes pools, cascades, and the Woodminster Amphitheater.

 

Designed by a team headed by Oakland Park Superintendent William Mott Jr and built as a WPA project, Woodminster Amphitheater and Cascades were dedicated in 1940 as a memorial to California writers. The trees and other vegetation along the Cascades, planted by horticulturist and design team member Lionel Sprattling, are designated Writers Memorial Grove, and individual plantings are dedicated to California’s great authors, including Joaquin Miller as well as Bret Harte, Jack London, Mark Twain, Dashiell Hammet, Ina Coolbrith, and many others. This is a fitting tribute, since so many of them visited this spot when the famously eccentric “Poet of the Sierras,” Joaquin Miller, owned this land.

 

Woodminster Amphitheater is a city-owned venue, and from the beginning was used for a variety of concerts and other performances.  In the 1950s, the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department began producing musicals and operettas in the amphitheater, and continued into the mid-1960s, when the program ended for a variety of reasons.  Around that time, Jim and Harriet Schlader moved to the area -- after Broadway careers -- to raise their growing family in California.  They were approached about lending their expertise to reinvigorating Oakland's summer theater under the stars, and Producers Associates was born and produced its first show in 1967.  This nonprofit arts organization has now been presenting the Woodminster Summer Musicals continuously for 50 years.  Producers Associates presents at least 3 big Broadway-style musicals in the facility each summer, with shows running in July, August, and September, and is Oakland's longest continually running live theater.

 

Oakland has been one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country for decades, but in the 1970s, racial segregation was still a fact of life in the city.  The Schladers fought that attitude with art, producing shows that would challenge the status quo, such as No Strings (which dealt with an interracial romance) in 1970, and an Oklahoma with African Americans in leading roles in 1975.

 

A uniquely American art form, American musical theatre has evolved considerably over the decades. Producers Associates has always remained true to its mission of presenting big, entertaining musicals from various eras. For many Oaklanders, Woodminster was their first exposure to live theatre, and they remember being brought there as children for a picnic supper and the summertime magic of music under the stars. Some of these families have been sitting in the same seats for 3 generations, and evenings at Woodminster are an annual tradition.

 

Woodminster offers a Kids Come Free program, designed to make live theater affordable for families, and several thousand free tickets are given to children and teens each season.  Half price group tickets have made the musicals an annual fundraiser and/or social outings for more than 100 Bay Area organizations, including the Oakland East Bay Symphony, Coast Guard Auxiliary, United Way, EDD, Rotary, Lions, and a number of other service organizations, church groups, neighborhood groups, etc. In 2016, the organization has inaugurated a half-price program for young theater-goers aged 16-30, as a friendly investment in the next 50 years.

 

Woodminster Summer Musicals offers paying work to professional actors, musicians, designers, choreographers, and technicians, as well as paying stipends and offering invaluable experience to teenaged backstage interns and aspiring actors, singers, and dancers.  Over the last 50 years, the organization has presented 157 productions, entertaining about a million Woodminster Summer Musicals ticket holders.  The shows have been performed by more than 5000 actors, over 20% of them members of Actors Equity Association, making the organization one of the Bay Area's most reliable employers of professional actors.  The musicals have always been performed with live professional orchestras, which have included 23 different conductors and over 1800 members of Musicians Local #6.  In addition, the organization has employed 25 professional set designers, 17 lighting designers, 24 costume designers, 6 sound technicians, 18 choreographers, 6 directors, and over 1,500 young backstage interns.

 

The Woodminster Summer Musicals are produced with the support of a dedicated Advisory Board of Directors, long-time East Bay residents and community boosters. Over the years, Producers Associates' tenancy has helped keep the amphitheater and surrounding area maintained, discouraged vandalism, and made a number of substantial improvements to the performance facility, including audience seating as well as improved lighting and sound systems. They have worked with the Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation and the City’s Parks department to facilitate a number of other improvements, and have kept their organization financially solvent for 37 years while contributing to the artistic vitality and economic health of the City of Oakland.

 

Producers Associates, Inc. is a nonprofit arts organization (Tax ID #94-1688232) and depends on tax-deductible contributions to supplement ticket sales. Woodminster is proud to have the support of hundreds of individuals as well as many local businesses and corporations, large and small, whose contributions help us keep live theater affordable for the families of our community.

 

 

  • First decade: 1967-1976

    Still under construction... More links coming soon, but meanwhile, check out 1967.

     

    See a slideshow including images and musical memories from the shows during the first decade of the Woodminster Summer Musicals.  SLIDESHOW 1st DECADE

    1967

    South Pacific

    The Music Man

    Paint Your Wagon

    Kiss Me Kate

     

    1968

    Finian’s Rainbow

    How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying

    Sound of Music

     

    1969

    The Most Happy Fella

    The King and I

    A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

     

    1970

    Li’l Abner

    No Strings

    Plain and Fancy

     

    1971

    The Music Man

    Hello, Dolly!

    Oliver

     

    1972

    Fiddler On The Roof

    Mame

    1776

     

    1973

    Man Of La Mancha

    Promises Promises

    The Rothschilds

     

    1974

    Carnival

    The Desert Song

    Brigadoon

     

    1975

    My Fair Lady

    Oklahoma!

    The Student Prince

     

    1976

    1776

    Annie Get Your Gun

    Showboat

     

  • Second decade: 1977-1986

    See a slideshow including images and musical memories from the shows during the second decade of the Woodminster Summer Musicals.  SLIDESHOW 2nd Decade

    1977

    West Side Story

    Pajama Game

    Carousel

     

    1978

    Call Me Madam

    Gypsy

    The Merry Widow

     

    1979

    New Moon

    Guys and Dolls

    Once Upon A Mattress

     

    1980

    Fiddler On The Roof

    A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

    Finian’s Rainbow

     

    1981

    Oliver

    No! No! Nanette

    The Sound of Music

     

    1982

    South Pacific

    Anything Goes

    The Music Man

     

    1983

    Camelot

    Little Me

    Paint Your Wagon

     

    1984

    Unsinkable Molly Brown

    Shenandoah

    Annie

     

    1985

    Damn Yankees

    Kismet

    George M

     

    1986

    Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

    Oklahoma!

    Evita

  • Third decade:  1987-1996

    See a slideshow including images and musical memories from the shows during the third decade of the Woodminster Summer Musicals. SLIDESHOW 3rd Decade

    1987

    Julius Caesar

    The Devil’s Disciple

    On The Town

    Man Of La Mancha

    Most Happy Fella

     

    1988

    Richard III

    Matchmaker

    Brigadoon

    Bye Bye Birdie

    The Student Prince

     

    1989

    Charley’s Aunt

    42nd Street

    Pirates Of Penzance

    My Fair Lady

     

    1990

    You Can’t Take It With You

    Hello, Dolly!

    Cabaret

    A Chorus Line

     

    1991

    1776

    On Your Toes

    Big River

     

    1992

    How to Succeed in Business...

    West Side Story

    Carnival

     

    1993

    Anything Goes

    Flower Drum Song

    Me and My Girl

     

    1994

    Gigi

    Shenandoah

    Into the Woods

     

    1995

    The Will Rogers Follies

    South Pacific

    Good News

     

    1996

    Fiddler On The Roof

    The Music Man

    City Of Angels

  • Fourth Decade: 1997-2006

    See a slideshow including images and musical memories from the shows during the fourth decade of the Woodminster Summer Musicals. SLIDESHOW 4th Decade

    1997

    Sayonara

    Man Of La Mancha

    The Secret Garden

     

    1998

    Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat

    42nd Street

    Ain’t Misbehavin'

     

    1999

    Grease

    Guys And Dolls

    Forever Plaid

     

    2000

    Camelot

    Sophisticated Ladies

    Bye Bye Birdie

     

    2001

    Carousel

    Barnum

    My Fair Lady

     

    2002

    Sound Of Music

    The Wiz

    1776

     

    2003

    Kiss Me Kate

    Evita

    Singin' In The Rain

     

    2004

    Annie

    Will Rogers Follies

    Flower Drum Song

     

    2005

    Oklahoma!

    Hello, Dolly!

    Jesus Christ Superstar

     

    2006

    Ragtime

    The King and I

    Disney's Beauty and the Beast

  • Fifth Decade: 2007-2016

    See a slideshow including images and musical memories from the shows during the fifth decade of the Woodminster Summer Musicals. SLIDESHOW 5th Decade

    2007

    West Side Story

    The Wizard of Oz

    Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat

     

    2008

    Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

    Seussical

    The Pirates of Penzance

     

    2009

    Peter Pan

    Singin' In The Rain

    Brigadoon

     

    2010

    Hairspray

    The Music Man

    Paint Your Wagon

     

    2011

    Oliver!

    My Fair Lady

    Finian's Rainbow

     

    2012

    Fiddler on the Roof

    A Funny Thing Happened...Forum

    Cats

     

    2013

    Little Shop of Horrors

    Annie Get Your Gun

    A Chorus Line

    Legally Blonde

     

    2014

    Les Misérables

    Catch Me If You Can

    Flower Drum Song

     

    2015

    Mary Poppins

    The Producers

    Tim Rice & Elton John's Aida

     

    2016

    Shrek The Musical

    Chicago

    La Cage aux Folles

  • The Next 50 Years

    Still under construction... coming soon!

     

    Here we'll tell you how we'd like to continue our mission of presenting American Musical Theatre under the stars, and how you can help!

  • join our board of directors

    The Woodminster Summer Musicals are produced with the support of a dedicated Advisory Board of Directors, long-time East Bay residents and community arts boosters. Over the years, Producers Associates' tenancy has helped keep the amphitheater and surrounding area maintained, discouraged vandalism, and made a number of substantial improvements to the performance facility, including audience seating as well as improved lighting and sound systems. They have worked with the Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation and the City’s Park & Rec Department to facilitate a number of other improvements, and have kept their organization financially solvent for 50 years while contributing to the artistic vitality and economic health of the City of Oakland.  All new members serve for one or more years as Associate Board members to learn about the organization and find their strengths as Woodminster supporters before moving onto the Advisory Board.

     

    More information and a list of current board members.

    Please contact
    Harriet Schlader if you may be interested.

     

Woodminster Summer Musicals produced in cooperation with the City of Oakland Parks & Recreation Department.

50th Anniversary logo designed by Joanne Romeo.

© 2016 Producers Associates Inc.  •  This website last updated 4-20-2017