Music and murder on East Bay stages

Music and murder on East Bay stages

Peter Atkinson, left, is Angus McWhirter and Venee Call-Ferrer is Audrey Strange in “Towards Zero.” (David Dierks photo)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (June 14, 2022) — There’s still time to catch the Motown musical “Dreamgirls, which Pittsburg Community Theatre is producing at Antioch’s El Campanil Theatre through June 26.

Dianna Schepers and LaTonya Watts co-direct, with Watts also doing the choreography. The cast includes Autumn Carter, Ria Dixon, Vickia Brinkley and Tiana Hester.

For tickets, call 925-757-9500 or go to

Towards Zero

Agatha Christie’s murder-mystery “Towards Zero” opened the Orinda Starlight Village Players 38th season at the Orinda Community Center Park Amphitheater in early June.

Published in 1944, Christie and Gerald Verner adapted it into a play in 1956. However, Starlight is producing a lost version written by Christie in 1945 and rediscovered in 2015.

This earlier version features the character of Angus McWhirter. Through him, Christie explores questions of mortality, suicide, depression and redemption.

The drama takes place outside at Lady Tressilian’s seaside home, where she has invited a group of not exactly compatible guests. Of course, several in the party end up dead.

“The characters are so very interesting. Each one has a past that informs their actions in the play. Each character is complex and nuanced in their relationships and needs,” said director Beth Sheridan Hooper. “The characters seem to sense something will happen to them, but they – and the audience – are kept guessing through almost two acts.”

“Towards Zero” runs through July 2. For more information, call 925-528-9225 or go to

Romeo y Juliet

Music and murder on East Bay stages
Sarita Ocón, left, as Romeo and Gianna DiGregorio Rivera as Juliet in “Romeo y Juliet” through June 19. (Jay Yamada photo)

Cal Shakes also opened its season in Orinda earlier this month. “Romeo y Juliet” tells the well-known Shakespeare tale, but with several twists in this adaptation by KJ Sanchez and Karen Zacarias.

Set in the early 1800s, “Romeo y Juliet” takes place in Alta California when the Golden State was under Mexican rule. The production is bilingual, mixing Spanish and English throughout the show. I recently attended a student matinee, and while my Spanish “es muy mal,” I had no trouble understanding what was happening.

The young lovers are both women. Gianna DiGregorio Rivera plays Juliet, with Sarita Ocón as Romeo. They gave nuanced performances that captured both the innocence and passion of their characters. This was especially noteworthy as Rivera took over the role of Juliet just days before opening.

The eight-person ensemble did an exceptional job conveying all the various characters. Everyone but Romeo and Juliet played multiple roles. Tanya Orellana designed the impressive set, and Jessie Amoroso created the gorgeous costumes.

“Romeo y Juliet” continues through June 19. For tickets, call 510-548-9666 or go to


Monique Hafen Adams is part of the rockin’ cast of “Beehive” at the Lesher Center. (Kevin Berne photo)

Things are rockin’ at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center with the ’60’s musical “Beehive.” Produced by Center Rep, the high-energy retrospective keeps the cast on its toes with a plethora of wigs and costume changes that mimic the fast-changing era.

Dawn Monique Williams directed and choreographed Center Rep’s production. It features six uber talented performers – Monique Hafen Adams, Ashley Cowl, Arielle Crosby, Elizabeth Curtis, Constance Jewell Lopez and Erica Richardson. All have plenty of opportunities to shine but especially memorable are Crosby as Tina Turner in a stellar rendition of “Proud Mary” and Curtis channeling Janis Joplin in a dynamite version of “Bobby McGee.”

Playing through June 26, “Beehive” tickets can be purchased by calling 925-943-SHOW or going to

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Sally Hogarty
Sally Hogarty

Sally Hogarty is well known around the Bay Area as a newspaper columnist, theatre critic and working actress. She is the editor of the Orinda News. Send comments to