The explosion of munitions at Port Chicago in July of 1944 was felt around the Bay Area, and the disaster and its aftermath continue to have reverberations today.

The National Park Service, which now includes the Port Chicago Naval Magazine Memorial as part of its East Bay unit, is holding a pair of observances to commemorate and examine the issues surrounding the disaster on its 70th anniversary, including its ramifications for African Americans and the armed services.

"The Port Chicago Disaster at 70: A Symposium on Race and the Military During World War II" will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. July 17 at Diablo Valley College, 321 Golf Club Road in Pleasant Hill. The symposium, featuring a panel of professors who authored books about the disaster, is free, but registration is required by going to portchicagomemorial.org or calling 925-695-7678.

The National Park Service and the Friends of Port Chicago National Memorial are also partnering to hold a 70th Anniversary Commemoration from 9 a.m. to noon July 19 at the SS Red Oak Victory, located at 1337 Canal Blvd. in the Port of Richmond, the site of the former Kaiser Shipyard No. 3.

MASQUERS MUSICAL BENEFIT: Classic Broadway tunes such as "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This," "If My Friends Could See Me Now," and "Hey Big Spender!" await at "Sweet Charity in Concert" a musical event presented this weekend by the songbook program series of Masquers Playhouse, the oldest community theater group in West Contra Costa.


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"Sweet Charity" is based on the book by Neil Simon, with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields that "seeks to showcase both the familiar and popular as well as other less well-known pieces of the American musical theater."

Performances are at 8 p.m. July 11 and 12, and 2 p.m. July 13 at the Masquers stage at 105 Park Place, across from the Hotel Mac in historic Point Richmond.

Performers will include Sara Pedri, D.C. Scarpelli, Peter Budinger, Michelle Pond, Christina Boothman, Gregg Klein, Jenny Rastegar, Patrick O. Sanchez, Kit Turner, Nancy Benson, Judy Zimola, Loretta Janca, Pamela Drummer-Williams, Rose Gigliuto, Diana Godet, Marissa Morrison, Linda Woody-Wood, Kate Spaulding, George Adams, George Doerr, Michael O'Brien and Jerry Telfer.

General admission tickets are $25 each, available at www.masquers.org or by calling 510-232-4031, and proceeds benefit the all-volunteer theater company.

SUGARTOWN FESTIVAL: Crockett is ready to celebrate summer with m usic, food and other strolling activities at its Sugartown Festival and Street Fair from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 20 along Rolph Avenue, off Pomona Street.

Entertainment on the main stage will include classic rock by East Bay Mudd at noon; reggae, soul and R&B by Native Elements at 2 p.m. and Latin music by Patron at 4 p.m.

There will be more entertainment at the other end of the street on the community stage, including Broadway Rhythm Dance Company, T-Shirt Tuxedo, the Ed Earley Band, Awed Ducks and CRSB.

In between you can find the Kid Zone, the crowning of the Sugartown King or Queen, arts and crafts, vendor and community booths, beer and wine, and other attractions.

Admission is free and parking at John Swett High School is a $5 donation, which benefits the school's PTA.

Details: www.communityconcerts.com or 510-787-1155

ECHS JAZZ ENSEMBLE: The hometown crowd at El Cerrito's July 4 Festival got a final chance to see the jazz ensemble from El Cerrito High School perform before the group departed this week on an eight-concert tour in Europe that will take them to Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland. You can see video of their opening number at the fair on the West County blog at www.ibabuzz.com/westcounty/.

AUDITION: Have you always wanted to put a witches shawl on and play Gomez, Morticia, Lurch? Contra Costa Civic Theatre in El Cerrito is holding auditions this month for its Bay Area premiere of "The Addams Family," a new musical based on the 1960s TV series and the characters originally created by cartoonist Charles Addams in The New Yorker.

Auditions for the 20 parts in the play are 7:30 to 10 p.m. July 24 and noon to 5 p.m. July 26 at the theater, 951 Pomona Ave. in El Cerrito.

The production will be directed and choreographed by Alex Perez, with musical direction by Michael Wiles. Full details about the auditions and requirements are online at www.ccct.org/participate-audition.html or send questions to auditions@ccct.org.

"The Addams Family" will open in September as the first play of CCCT's 55th season.

BLOOD DRIVE: The American Red Cross bus will be at Bancroft Way and College Avenue by the UC Berkeley campus for a blood drive from noon to 5 p.m. July 23. Drop-ins are welcome, or to make an appointment or get more details visit redcrossblood.org or call 800-RED CROSS.

Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784 or ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/christreadway. Stay up-to-date on West Contra Costa news at IBABuzz.com/westcounty.