OAKLAND -- The 48th season of summer musicals at the Woodminster Amphitheater in the Oakland hills promises diversity for audiences and performers alike. It will kick off with "Les Misérables" in July, followed by "Catch Me If You Can" in August and "Flower Drum Song" in September.

"This year, we're producing two shows we've never done before and in fact all three shows are relatively new in the history of American Musical Theater," said Harriet Schlader, managing director for Producers Associates, which puts on the summer musicals.

"Les Misérables" is a pop opera based on Victor Hugo's epic novel about political rebellion in France from 1815-1832. It has been performed more than 7,000 times on Broadway and more than 10,000 times in London.

The plot of Woodminster's second summer show, "Catch Me If You Can" is taken from the DreamWorks' film of the same name (starring Leonardo DiCaprio) and was inspired by the story of a real-life con. It features a number of lively dance numbers and opened on Broadway three years ago.

To close the season, Producers Associates will present the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Flower Drum Song," which was based on a 1957 novel by Chinese-American author C.Y. Lee. The production was updated in 2002 with a script by David Henry Hwang.

"When we did 'Flower Drum Song' in 2004, we were the first Bay Area theater to stage this new version," Schlader explained. "Our audiences were enthusiastic then and have told us they'd like to see it again."


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Musicians for the Woodminster shows are members of Musicians Local No. 6. Actors are either members of the Actors' Equity Association or amateurs. Producers Associates invites older teenagers and adults to try out for role in all three shows. Children who look between the ages of 10-12 can audition for "Les Misérables," which has roles for two girls and one boy.

All roles require singing, and some roles in "Catch Me If You Can" and "Flower Drum Song" also entail dancing. Those coming to the auditions on March 22-23 should be prepared to sing two contrasting songs and bring their music in the appropriate keys.

"Auditions are very competitive and usually draw 200 to 300 people, some with more training than others," said summer musicals publicist Kathy Kahn. Roles usually go to those who have had some voice lessons or other training.

"Having experience gives performers a leg up, an advantage, at the auditions," Kahn explained. "But kids are not expected to have the same level of training as adults."

Though it takes a lot of work to put on the summer musicals each year, Producers Associates is ready to get the 2014 season underway.

"Harriet (Schlader) says this season is going to be a lot of fun," Kahn said. "We are all very excited since this season has a great range. We think the audience is going to love it."

See www.woodminster.com for more details on the auditions.

FYI
What: Auditions for Woodminster Summer Musicals
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 22-23
Where: 3300 Joaquin Miller Road, Oakland
Information: www.woodminster.com