Children's Musical Theater of San Jose may be in its 45th year, but its looking fresher than ever.
Managing Director Michael Miller hasn't quite hit his first anniversary with the company -- which provides theater training and performance opportunities for young people from age 6 to 20 -- but he's having a great time so far working with longtime Artistic Director Kevin Hauge. Already, CMT has produced a sold-out run of "Les Miserables" and has fans eagerly awaiting Tony Award winner "In the Heights" next month and "A Chorus Line" in April.
It also pulled off a swanky and successful fundraiser last Saturday, with a sold-out crowd of 400 people at the San Jose Civic Auditorium bringing in at least $180,000.
For the uninitiated, the Cabaret Night benefit -- with the scholastic theme "Child's Play" this year -- features dinner theater taken to the extreme. Now in its 29th year, it showcases a huge cast of current performers and alumni who fly in from all over the country to perform full-blown numbers and medleys from CMT's extensive repertoire, including previews of upcoming shows.
After the rousing finale of "Children Will Listen" from "Into the Woods" got a well-deserved standing ovation, I can't imagine anyone in the crowd ever looking at a "kid's show" the same way.
WINING AND DINING: The Winter Wine Walk through downtown Campbell is Wednesday, featuring live music along Campbell Avenue
The sipping starts at 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Details at www.downtowncampbell.com.
Santana Row, meanwhile, has its Wine & Dine Around benefit for the American Heart Association on Feb. 16, with more than a dozen shops and restaurants at the San Jose shopping center offering wine-and-food pairings and one-time discounts. The Saturday afternoon stroll gets started early at 2 p.m. and continues until 5. Tickets are $30 and are available at the Santana Row Concierge or at www.santanarow.com.
READING MILESTONE: Chris Bradshaw of Portola Valley was traveling with her family in the African country Lesotho in 2005 when she learned there was only one library in the entire country and very few books to read. That encounter spurred Bradshaw to launch the African Library Project, organizing book drives in North America and partnering with African communities to create small libraries.
Last month, the nonprofit volunteer group hit a major milestone when it shipped its 1 millionth book.
"When I first started this project, it was clear how absolutely life-changing it would be for African children," Bradshaw said. "I have since come to realize that the benefit is just as dramatic for children who participate here by running book drives and donating their books."
LOOKING FOR A PROJECT: It was just two months ago that Nvidia employees and families were at Emma Prusch Farm Park volunteering for Veggielution community garden as part of its annual Project Inspire community service work. But Nvidia spokesman Hector Marinez says the Santa Clara chip company is already on the lookout for the next Silicon Valley school or community group it can help for its 2013 project in December.
Applications are due March 15, and all the details and guidelines are available at www.nvidia.com/inspire.
RETAIL OF TWO CITIES: There was some retail buzz in the valley last week: San Jose learned it would be landing the popular hunting/fishing emporium Bass Pro Shops on Almaden Expressway and Highway 85 in 2015, and Palo Alto residents found out an American Girl store will open at Stanford Shopping Center later this year.
I can already predict where my time is more likely to be spent. Steve Wright of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group helpfully pointed out that after my 3-year-old daughter gooses the economy at American Girl, I'll be able to pick up lunch at Umami Burger, the upscale burger joint that's also opening on University Avenue. That is, if I've got any money left.