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PostHeaderIcon Around Town

PostHeaderIcon New Theater Co. Opens With Love Letters

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One of the latest offerings from the city of Dublin is a collaboration with a new theater company, TriValley Performers, who will be making their debut in early February at Heritage Park at the theater dubbed The Sunday School Barn. 

The presentation is "Love Letters," a play written my A. R. Gurney, which opened in 1988 and takes the audience along for the ride through the lives of two people through the notes, cards, and letters they wrote to each other over 50 years. 

Veteran East Bay actors Ali Lane and Bob Stratton play Melissa and Andy, two members of the east coast ‘privileged’ class who first meet in the 2nd grade and maintain a lifelong relationship with its ups and downs.   

Their connection is maintained even though they seem to be growing in different directions and the listeners are drawn into their saga without the use of lavish sets or other adornments.  A couple of desks and a stack of letters is all that’s needed to keep you entertained.

TriValley Performers is an offshoot of the TriValley Young Performers Academy which was organized in 2007.  Brian Olkowski is the director of the company as well as the director of Love Letters which was chosen as their premier presentation, not coincidentally, close to Valentine’s Day.

The Sunday School Barn is theater sits in the middle of Heritage Park & Museums and the restored grounds also house the pioneer cemetery, the Kolb family house, the Murray Schoolhouse, and Old St. Raymond’s Church.   Much of it was relocated to its present, permanent location when Highway 580 bisected the town and separated the historic area.
Love Letters will play from Feb. 3 to 12 at the Heritage Park Sunday School Theater, 6600 Donlon Way in Dublin.  Performances are Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m..  Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for youths 6-12. 

There is some adult language in the show.
For more information call,  Heritage Park Events,at 925-452-2101 or the City of Dublin:  www.ci.dublin.ca.us-- BS

Last Updated (Monday, 23 January 2012 22:30)


PostHeaderIcon Annie Opens in Livermore Jan. 21

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The Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre will present "Annie" starting Jan. 21 and running through Feb. 5.

Based on the book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, the local show is produced by Kathleen Breedveld, directed by John Maio,  with choreography by Christina Lazo, vocal direction by Min Kahng and musical direction by Jo Anne Fosselman.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sundays at the Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St. in Livermore.

The cast includes: Jordyn Foley, Julia Etzel, Jess Martinez, Sarah Schori, Erik Scanlon, Pamela Ballin, Kendall Tieck, Emily Johnson, Rachel Probst, Emma Thvedt, Emily Joy Kessel, Isabella Palmer-Ahrens and Grace Mesenbring.

Supporting roles are played by: Tim Ackerman, Tom Farris, John Rinaldi, Scott Stewart, Jeffrey Sanchez, Dylan Spooner, Noelle Boero, Elizabeth Dimits, Sultana Gardizi, Britt Jensky, Emily Jones, Martha McDowell, Martie Muldoon, Hanna Pryfogle, Brianna Reynolds, Judy Sanders, Zoe Larkin, Christine Curulla, Alexandra Baldacci and Sophia Delucchi.

For tickets, go to www.livermoreperformingarts.org or call 925-373-6800 or go to the ticket window at 2400 First St. in Livermore. --KB

Last Updated (Thursday, 05 January 2012 00:30)


PostHeaderIcon Senior Center Without Walls

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The holiday season is a time of joy and anticipation of joining together with friends and family for sharing good cheer. However, it can be challenging for older adults who are alone or unable to leave their homes and unite with others.  The benefit of daily conversations with others and sharing interests is uplifting to a person’s spirits.

Senior Center Without Walls, created by Bay Area Gerontologist Terry Englehart, is an award-winning, innovative outreach program that allows seniors to make friends, stay connected and have a sense of community wthout leaving home.

The non-profit telephone activities program serves as a link to more than 250 seniors via conference calls.  Callers can take part in class discussions led by telephone volunteer facilitators providing more than 70 classes per week on a variety of subjects.

The schedule of classes, held on each day of the week, in large print and audio version, is sent out free to participants, along with materials such as Bingo cards, travel photos and quilting patterns. The variety of topics ranges from Mind Massage and Support/Discussion for the Blind to Quilting and Weekend Wizards.  Sessions begin at 9 a.m., with some continuing into the evening until 7:30 p.m.  An ever-popular opener for each day is the Gratitude Class from 9 until 9:30 a.m.  The consensus is that Englehart is someone so many are grateful for everyday.  “She’s a real person…has the ability to make us feel worthy, that our point of view, our comments, are important”, reports Rosalee, a class participant.

For those unable to visit a community senior center, this free program of classes and support groups can be a connection to look forward to daily, says Clarissa, a regular participant in the non-denominational program.

“You get isolated when you’re homebound.  But now I have a contact with the world again, and I’m developing interests I never knew I had,'' she says.

Located in Oakland, the non-profit’s sponsor, Episcopal Senior Communities, provides funding for the toll-free incoming conference calls from the greater Bay Area.

Englehart, who once operated a senior information and referral program, became aware of a similar telephone-connecting project in New York City and got down to work. An anonymous donation of $2,500 was the seed of the program.

“It’s a simple concept, but it is so powerful,'' she says,

The appeal of the wide range of topics reaches a varied audience: Socrate’s Café, Armchair Bird watching, Funny Bones, LGBT Social Club and Noggin’ Joggin’ are just a few.

Is it any wonder that numerous articles have been written about the program since 2004?   CBS 5 has recorded a video of the Jefferson Award for Community Service given to Englehart last year.  Other public service awards have been bestowed upon the project such as the Citation of Honor from the International Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, MindAlert Award from the American Society of Aging and MetLife Foundation and the Gold and Silver Award from the City of Oakland, Calif.

Other key topics of interest to ramp up alertness for those who seek comfort and encouragement are: Health and Well-Being presentations, Loss Support Groups and Meditation.  Reminiscence, an afternoon session on Wednesdays allows plenty of time to do just that!  We all want to share a little of that now and again!

For more information and registration for classes, call 1-877-797-7299 or visit www.SeniorCenterWithoutWalls.org.-- KRB


Karen Balch is a freelance writer, community volunteer and  retired nurse. She lives in San Ramon and can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated (Wednesday, 26 March 2014 22:18)


PostHeaderIcon Berkeley Offers Walking Tours

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Berkeley is a picturesque city with rolling hills gently rising more than 1,700 feet above sea level to Grizzly Peak. Small creeks course throughout the city, streaming to the San Francisco Bay. Berkeley’s network of historic pathways link the winding neighborhoods of the hillsides of this multicultural haven to panoramic vistas over the East Bay.

Most everybody knows about the historic landmarks: the UC Berkeley campinelle, People's Park, Telegraph Avenue, Chez Panisse Restaurant and the Gourmet Ghetto peppered throughout the city. Berkeley is also the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, said to be the third most liberal city in the nation, and an eco-friendly mecca of about 110,000 diverse residents. 

The Berkeley of today is far different from what it was in 1866, when the private College of California was renamed for the 18th-century philosopher and poet, Bishop George Berkeley. UC-Berkeley took form as a public university in 1868. Now you can get an up-close and detailed look at different parts of the city, its buildings and history.

On Sat., Oct. 22, there will be a tour of women’s social clubs south of the Cal campus, including the Berkeley Piano Club, the Berkeley City Club (shown left) and the Town and Gown Club. The visit will also include the Bancroft Hotel, which was built for the College Women’s Club. At each site, a speaker will discuss the history of that club. This tour is not wheelchair accessible.

On Sat. Oct. 29, you can see what's happening on the Berkeley waterfront now and hear how it's taken shape over the past 150 years. This tour is mostly flat, cool and breezy with extended walking. It is wheelchair accessible.

On Sat. Nov. 12, there will be a tour of the early community service centers of West Berkeley. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Berkeley women were not only building impressive social clubs in one part of the city, but were providing direct social services in West Berkeley. Many of the buildings were privately built to house programs for the poor. They include a rare West Coast “settlement house,” an early nursery, a healthcare facility, and a Bernard Maybeck-inspired community center. This tour is wheelchair accessible.

On Sat., Dec. 10, people can tour the old and new buildings on Berkely High School and hear what has happened over the years. There are plans to see the old gymnasium buildings and swimming pool.

All tours start at 10 a.m. and run about two hours; rain or shine. Tours are limited to 30 paying participants. Pre-paid reservations are required and tickets are not refundable. Tours cost $8 for Berkeley Historical Society members and $10 for non-members. A season pass is $30. For reservations and starting points, call (510) 848-0181 or visit http://www.berkeleyhistoricalsociety.org/--- KRB


Karen Balch is a retired nurse, freelance writer, avid traveler. She lives in San Ramon, but was born in Berkeley. You can reach her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated (Tuesday, 04 October 2011 20:48)


PostHeaderIcon Former Arsenio Hall Show Bandleader Holds Benefit

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Michael Wolff's mother supported his creative drive, even when it drew him to the piano late at night in their home in the slumbering Berkeley hills. She taught him that if you truly have something to offer the world, you should offer it with style. Wolff – now an acclaimed jazz pianist, composer and TV personality – took the advice to heart, to the stage, to the recording studio, and eventually to Hollywood.

Now he's giving back: playing a Latin-jazz benefit for his late mother's scholarship fund. Proceeds will go to The Sanville Institute, a Ph.D program in social work. Wolff's mother -- Elise Blumenfeld, social worker who held a Ph.D -- founded the Institute to help train psychotherapists.

"I have played this benefit and will play it or be involved with it every year in order to honor the memory of my late mother,'' he said. "She was a psychotherapist and activist who put herself on the line to help others. It's the least I can do to contribute to the Sanville Institute, which meant so much to her."

A producer, actor and jazz educator, Wolff was for a time the bandleader and musical director of The Arsenio Hall Show. Later, he co-starred with sons Nat and Alex Wolff on Nickelodeon's The Naked Brothers Band, a popular mock documentary created and produced by his wife, actress Polly Draper, well-known for her role in ABC's hit series Thirtysomething.

And he's toured with jazz greats Nancy Wilson, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderley, Cal Tjader, Airto and Flora Purim.

The Sept. 30 benefit begins at 6:30 p.m. with food and drinks catered by Picante Restaurant. Music kicks off at 8 p.m., with a set by the Michael Wolff Latin Jazz Sextet featuring Ray Obiedo (guitar), Bob Johnson (sax), Peter Barshay (bass), Phil Hawkins (drums) and Derek Rolando (percussion). Tickets are $100 and can be purchased at http://sanville.edu. The event is at the Jazzschool, http://www.jazzschool.com/  at 2087 Addison St. in Berkeley. More information is available through email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Wolff, who now lives in Manhattan with his family, held a similar benefit in his mother's name last year, and raised more than $10,000 for the scholarship fund.

The mission of The Sanville Institute is to provide doctoral education and ongoing professional growth for master’s-level psychotherapists. Supported by the openness and relatedness of a uniquely interactive learning process, students develop their expertise to practice as clinicians, supervisors, administrators, teachers, writers and researchers to meet the ever-changing needs of our diverse society. For more information: http://sanville.edu.  --ST

Last Updated (Wednesday, 21 September 2011 01:18)

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