About Chanticleers Theatre
Our long (but interesting) history!
Chanticleers Theatre's story begins way back in 1948, when
a small group of actors and actresses from the Castro Valley Woman's Club formed
a drama group called the "Castro Valley Little Theatre Group". They
started rehearsing in an old, cold chicken coop belonging to charter member, John
three years, in 1951, the drama group held a city wide contest to select a new
name for themselves. The name 'Chanticleers', submitted by one Lucille Cochran,
was selected as the winner.
Chanticleer was appropriate for several reasons.
The word is derived from the Old French word "chantecler", the name
of the rooster in the old Middle Ages' tale of "Reynaud the Fox". The
word means "to sing clear". [chanter, to sing:
chant + cler, elear: clear.]
Also, at the time, Castro Valley was home to a thriving poultry
business, one of the largest in the state. In fact, there was a sign at the west
end of Castro Valley Boulevard proclaiming, "Castro Valley, something to
crow about." So the drama group adopted the name "Chanticleers",
which has been kept to this day.
In September 1951, Chanticleers presented its first major
production, The Mystery of the Whispering Bell, under the direction of
Ruth Dingnan. The production ran just two nights and was staged at the Castro
Valley Grammar School. Prices in thoses days ran just $1.00 for adults and 50
cents for children.
the next seven years, Chanticleers presented two productions per year. Since there
was had no permanent theatre or stage, productions were held in various local
venues - Castro Valley Grammar School, A. B. Morris School, Brett Harte School,
Cal State University, First Methodist Church, and Castro Valley High School.
In 1958, Chanticleers acquired its first permanent location
- The Palomares Little Red School House, pictured at right. The
first production performed there was Anniversary Waltz directed by Rosalinda
Thomas in November of 1959.
Audiences enjoyed Chanticleers' Theatre productions in the
Little Red School House for the next 18 years... with shows often selling out
well in advance. Sadly, a fire destroyed the facility in 1976. The last production
at the Little Red School House was Born Yesterday.
Good fortune shined on Chanticleers, however, and the group
found a new home in Castro Valley by leasing the old Castro Valley Community Center
from H.A.R.D. The indoor basketball court was transformed with the help of many
enthusiastic volunteers into an intimate 100-seat theatre.
Today Chanticleers Theatre is a beloved Castro Valley treasure,
supported by theatre lovers from local communities and beyond. Known as "Castro
Valley's Little Theatre in the Park", Chanticleers is located in
the Castro Valley Community Park (see map) right across
from the new Veteran's Memorial, adjacent to the children's playground.
For a small non-profit community playhouse, Chanticleers offers
a an impressive range of live theatre experiences, including award-winning dramas,
hilarious comedies and farces, classic thrillers, musical reviews like New
Wrinkles and full-fledged musicals like Fiddler on the Roof.
Chanticleers is grateful for the generous support of Castro
Valley and surrounding community residents, many of whom are members of the theatre,
financial contributors or volunteers contributing time and talent to make live
theatre possible here. Please join us as a member, a volunteer
or just come and see a show! You are more than welcome! Please
enjoy and, of course, thank you for your support....