There I was, sipping wine in my fleece and thinking "isn't summertime wonderful?" The fog bank was sitting just off the coast and the air was deliciously chilled.
Opening night was a rousing success at Oakland's Woodminster Amphitheater. From the minute the fiddler and harmonica players took the stage, the cast of "Annie Get Your Gun" had us roped and tied. Irving Berlin's time-honored Wild West musical is as entertaining today as it was back in 1946. And to see it at this architectural gem -- in an intimate bowl under the stars -- makes it even more memorable.
The cast of "Annie Get Your Gun" is some 40 members strong -- including the loveable, sharp-tongued sharpshooter Annie, played by New York actress Claire Buchignani. Among the amateurs is 12-year-old Head-Royce student Emily Wagner, who plays Annie's little sister Nellie.
The music is every bit as good as the acting, with a live orchestra backing up favorites like "There's No Business Like Show Business" and "Anything You Can Do." You know these songs transcend time when even the kids in the audience sing them.
Annie runs through Sunday. Find tickets and the complete summer schedule at http://www.woodminster.com/
Another winner: Talk about blowing your mind -- The Berkeley Playhouse rendition of "The Wiz" is so groovy, it's like taking a time machine back to the 1970s. Oakland actor Reggie White plays the Tin Man in this Motown adaptation of the Wizard of Oz and calls the music amazing. "It just soars," White says. "There were nights during rehearsal when I would be sitting in the house watching scenes that I wasn't in and I would think 'I don't want to go on stage right now, I just want to sit and watch this gorgeous show.'" The singing, the acting and the instrumentals make "The Wiz" a must-see production. It runs through Aug. 25 and tickets are available at http://www.berkeleyplayhouse.org/.
Email bag: Thanks to reader C. Copperud for defending the fleet of No. 18 buses that come and go from the Montclair Safeway each day.
He says the every 15-minute schedule, while it may seem excessive, has been in place for years and is actually popular -- especially in the morning commute. Some residents have been complaining about the seemingly constant presence of buses in a busy Montclair corridor, but Copperud says he would hate to see anything happen to the only bus that links Montclair to the rest of Oakland and BART.
Animal tales: Two orphaned kits are running around the hills, according to the chatter on the MSIC listserv. They may be the cubs of an injured adult fox that was rescued, last week, and taken to Lindsay Wildlife Hospital.
A word to the wise: the kits may be cute but you don't want them hanging around your yard. They make an awful mess, as I can attest, having grown up next to a boy who raised them.