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San Francisco Comedy Competition Returns to the Bankhead For Semifinal Rounds

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The Bankhead Theater will welcome the 43rd Annual San Francisco Comedy Competition’s ten semifinal contestants this coming Friday, September 21. This unique event is sure to provide an entertaining night of laughter and a great opportunity for audiences to discover new talent, as well as support rising stars in the comedy world.

Let’s take a closer look at the history of the competition.

For more than four decades, this event has served as a stepping stone for numerous comic legends. Believe it or not, Dana Carvey won the competition back in 1977 before going on to appear on “Saturday Night Live.” The list of famous runner-ups is lengthy as well, including the likes of Robin Williams, who placed second in the competition’s inaugural year, and Ellen DeGeneres, who also just missed first place ten years later.

Stand-up has long been considered one of the more difficult forms of comedy. That said, the San Francisco Comedy Competition’s format is particularly challenging. First, approximately 30 comedians are chosen from hundreds of applicants to compete in preliminary weeks before a range of audiences at comedy clubs, bars, restaurants, casinos, and theaters across the greater Bay Area.

From there, things get really interesting. Only ten comedians process to the semifinals for five more shows before the top five advance to the finals. As they have been for the last three years, the sets at the Bankhead will be part of the semifinal rounds.

This year, the final show will be held where the competition started in downtown San Francisco. The SF Comedy Competition at the Bankhead precedes a number of others shows this season, including the return of Tom Papa on October 25.

The performance

Tickets to the SF Comedy Competition start at just $30. Keep in mind that the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center offers student and military tickets to nearly every performance. If you need student, military, or ADA tickets, please contact the box office prior to the event.

As a friendly reminder, please note the following policies at the Bankhead Theater:

  • Regardless of age, everyone (including children) must have their own ticket to enter the theater.
  • ADA seats or spaces are for wheelchairs only (no exceptions).
  • Our military discount is offered only to active military personnel.

The Best Comedy Acts in Livermore

It could be that you’ve never been to a comedy show but have always had interest. Or maybe you have yet to check out the Bankhead Theater for yourself. In any case, we invite you to consider purchasing tickets for this special event.

The Bankhead Theater is more than just another performing arts venue. This 507-seat facility is used for live music, theater, dance, lectures, conferences, and civic events. Our performing arts center staff works tirelessly to bring in a wide range of artists and, in this case, comedians throughout the year.

LVPAC is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit offering wide-ranging programs that provide access to the arts for the Tri-Valley community and beyond. Along with the Bothwell Arts Center, the Bankhead is home to eight residents performing arts companies and over 40 studio artists and cultural arts instructors.

DLUX Puppets to Return to the Bankhead Twice in 2018-19 Season

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DLUX Puppets will return to the Bankhead Theater this season with two visually stunning and entertaining family shows. The multimedia retellings of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Peter Pan” use state-of-the-art digitally projected scenery, high-quality life-sized puppetry, and actors, weaving in popular songs from past decades.

Keep reading to learn more about the group and these must-see performances.

About DLUX Puppets

Now a nationally recognized company, DLUX Puppets debuted their production of Alice in Wonderland in 2017, although the project was many years in the making. A multi-talented performer and former star in San Francisco’s long-running show “Beach Blanket Babylon,” DLUX Puppets’ founder Derek Lux has always been interested in puppets and has been actively designing and creating innovative puppets for nearly a decade.

“Alice in Wonderland” brings to life the classic tale of Alice’s journey through the marvelous world of the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and the Queen of Hearts. In the productions, all of the characters Alice encounters are intricately engineered life-size puppets, hand-built and voiced by Derek. The show’s seven puppets, ranging in size from just two feet in height to over seven feet tall, each took between 100 and 200 hours to construct.

Each puppet is different from the others, both in the way they are built and in terms of style and scale. Some require Lux to step into a full harness to perform the puppet’s head and arms, or to fly the Cheshire Cat’s body through the air. The digitally projected scenery, created by Steve Axtell, helps tell the story with interactive images.

Alice is played by Lux’s wife, second-grade teacher Lauren Lux, who developed a performance activity kit to connect the “Alice Wonderland” production with Common Core literature standards and provide a STEAM focus through the art and engineering elements in the puppets. The show also incorporates a social-emotional aspect as Alice learns from the characters in Wonderland that her words, thoughts, and feelings are powerful and that she can change them to change her world in a positive way. A similar activity kit for “Peter Pan” is also in development.

The performances

“Alice in Wonderland” returns Sunday, December 30 for two performances, including one adapted for audiences with sensory-friendly needs. DLUX Puppets’ new production of “Peter Pan” will be presented at the Bankhead Theater on June 2, 2019. Tickets for both shows are priced at just $10 for students and $20 for adults.

After all performances, both Derek and Lauren Lux will be available in the lobby so members of the audience can take photos and see one of the puppets close up. In addition to the three public performances, DLUX Puppets will present additional shows for students from local elementary schools through a special arts education outreach effort, sponsored in part by the LVPAC Education Fund. For more information on school performances, please contact Kiran Guleria at education@lvpac.org.

Don’t forget that we have a number of incredible performances on tap at the Bankhead Theater. Check out our events calendar and book your tickets today.

Event Preview: Southern Fried Chicks’ “Cage-Free Comedy Tour”

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Three funny ladies known as the Southern Fried Chicks bust out of the hen house next month, arriving in Livermore for a night of fun with their new show called the “Cage-Free Comedy Tour!” This multimedia show consists of free-range comedy, stories, music, singing, and dancing. Keep reading if you’re at all interested in “blue-collar comedy hour with better hair and bigger attitude.”

Since they made their debut on Country Music Television, the Southern Fried Chicks have packed venues across the country, poking fun at life and love in the USA. Let’s take a closer look at each of the chicks.

Etta May

Etta, once named the American Comedy Award’s “Comic of the Year,” has been described as “Minnie Pearl with a migraine.” Not only is Etta a regular on CMT, but she’s also been seen on “Oprah,” “Comic Strip Live,” and “Comedy Stage.” Etta is even an audience favorite on XM/Sirius Radio Comedy Channels and the syndicated radio show “The Bob and Tom Show.”

Karen Mills

Karen finds the funny in everyday life in a style that’s clean, clever, and relatable. The Tennessee native is a regular on Sirius/XM Blue Collar Radio and Laugh USA. Known for her “Menopause Rap,” a top download on iTunes and her “Hot Flash Mob” video on YouTube, she has toured with Joan Rivers, Ron White, and Jon Stewart.

Sonya White

Originally from Virginia and now a resident of Chicago, Sonya combines southern charm with big city street smarts to deliver dead-on impersonations and cartoon voices from the Cartoon Network. Sonya played a major role in “Girls Behaving Badly,” “Comedy Spotlight,” and “The U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.” She has also appeared on “Nightshift” and “Big Brother Jake.”

Comedy Shows in Livermore

The Southern Fried Chicks’ “Cage-Free Comedy Tour” is just the start of a season filled with great opportunities to enjoy comedy at the Bankhead. The famed San Francisco Comedy Competition, known for helping launch the careers of such legends as Robin Williams, Dana Carvey, and Ellen DeGeneres, makes its annual semifinal circuit stop on September 21.

One of the top comedic voices in the country, Tom Papa makes a welcome return to Livermore on October 25. Then laugh through the holidays with Reduced Shakespeare Company’s “Ultimate Christmas Show,” the tongue-in-cheek post-Valentine’s Day show “It’s Not Your, It’s Me” with Chicago’s The Second City, and Late Night Catechism’s Easter show, “Will My Bunny Go to Heaven?” The annual return of The Capitol Steps with their timely, razor-sharp political satire closes the season in May.

Stand-up comedy also lights up the Bothwell Arts Center with the return of last year’s sold-out show “One Night, Three Women, Too Funny,” starring local comedians Regina Stoops, Stacey Gustafson, and Margaret Zhao on September 29, 2018.

The performance

The Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center is excited to welcome the Southern Fried Chicks for one night only on Saturday, September 1 at 8 p.m. All tickets for this relaxed night of fun are just $40 with $20 tickets available for students and active military personnel.

Two Firsts for the Bankhead

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We’re marking two major firsts this fall with our brand new production of the compelling Tony Award-winning play “Red” by John Logan. The two-man play captures a pivotal period in the tumultuous career of abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko. This will be the FIRST show fully produced by Livermore Performing Arts Center and also the FIRST production at the Bankhead in a “stage on stage” setting.  Both the set and audience will be positioned directly on the stage.

While the Bankhead Theater has welcomed theatrical productions since it opened in 2007, most have been single performances of small-scale touring plays. More complex plays and musicals are difficult to mount for a single performance. In looking to add more theatrical productions, LVPAC’s Executive Director Scott Kenison found that a small “stage-on-stage” approach could be as cost effective as a touring show. For “Red,” the set and audience will be positioned between the fire curtain and the rear wall.  As Scott said, the raw, industrial sense of the space will help create an appropriate visual backdrop for Rothko’s New York Bowery studio and the intimate, stage-on-stage setting will enhance the emotional connection between the audience and the work’s dramatic action.

He initially discussed staging the project with other local organizations, however many are busy during their fall season. Bringing the project inside also provided other benefits, as Scott believes it is the nature of people involved in the creative arts to seek and be inspired by opportunities to broaden their horizons and use their skills. We’ve established a reputation for presenting great artists and for supporting local groups through our resident company program and educational outreach. Now with ‘Red’ we can build on that, leveraging the creative energy, production skills, and administrative strengths we already have in place to produce, as well as present, great works.

The project is underwritten in part by the LVPAC Producer’s Fund, which was established to support projects or guest artists that expand and stretch the organization’s artistic efforts. The natural connection between LVPAC’s involvement in both the performing arts and the visual arts, at the Bankhead Theater and at the Bothwell Arts Center, yields exciting opportunities to experience both.  On display in the Bankhead Gallery during “Red” will be “The Art of Drama,” an exhibit of works curated by the Bothwell that express the concept of drama as seen through the eyes of a variety of local artists. Look for other related events as well.

“Red” opens Thursday, October 18, 2018 for Five Performances

Click HERE to read more about the play

Or BUY tickets now!

Event Preview: Rockapella and The Company Men

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The Bankhead Theater is excited to welcome two male vocal groups whose sleek harmonies and full band sound create pure music ranging from doo-wop and classic jazz to modern rock and hip hop. Making their third visit to Livermore, Rockapella is known for creating an astonishing full-band sound with a capella grace. The Company Men bring a contemporary spin and vocal style to inventive compilations of music, seamlessly mixing vintage songs with today’s chart-topping hits.

Keep reading to learn more about these groups, as well as the event itself.

About Rockapella

Awarded the Contemporary A Cappella Society (CASA) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, Rockapella members are masters of the vocal art form. Although current interest in a cappella largely dates back to the success of the television show “Glee” and the film “Pitch Perfect,” Rockapella’s sleek vocals have been drawing fans old and new for nearly three decades. The group got their start as an enthusiastic a cappella quartet of Brown University graduates singing on street corners in 1986.

It wasn’t long before the group became regulars on “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” They also appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and on stage with the Boston Pops Orchestra. Rockapella’s rich, resonant sound comes from just five guys with no microphones, no instruments, no tracks, and no mirrors.

Says Scott Leonard, the group’s chief songwriter and arranger, “People have a hard time believing it’s just us making all of that music: percussion, bass, melody, and harmonies.”

About The Company Men

The Company Men features seasoned performers who have appeared on The Voice, the Emmy-Award winning NBC mini series The Temptations and in numerous Broadway and national touring productions. In addition to shows in venues from performing arts centers, to casinos and festivals, they have been artists-in-residence on Norwegian Cruise Line’s flagship The Escape in the Caribbean and will soon set sail for Hawaii. They have shared the stage with various artists, including Mariah Carey, Colbie Caillat, Natalie Bole, Sheena Easton, and Billy Idol.

The Company Men are known for their uniquely interwoven blend of popular songs covering six decades of music, ranging from The Four Tops, The Temptations, Sam Cooke, The Eagles, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, and Prince, to Sam Smith, Katy Perry, Adele, The Weekend, Meghan Trainor, Bruno Mars, Michael Buble, Nick Jonas, and others.

The performance

Rockapella and The Company Men are set to take the stage for what should be an incredible afternoon. The performance takes place Sunday, August 12 at 3 p.m. in the Bankhead Theater. Ticket prices range from $20 to $70.

Please note the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center offers both student and military tickets for this performance. If you need student, military, or ADA tickets, please contact the box office. Keep in mind that every audience member, regardless of age, must have their own ticket to enter the Bankhead Theater.

The Bankhead Presents series

Vocal magic fills the 2018-19 Bankhead Presents season as two other groups also make a welcome return with their smooth harmony singing. In December, The Doo Wop Project returns with a special holiday-themed show lending their voices, fresh from Broadway’s hit shows, to the music of an earlier era. Just a few months later, Masters of Soul brings back the look, choreography, style, and sound that defined the legendary music of Motown in a night of familiar fun.

The Bankhead Theater

Never been to the Bankhead Theater. Now is a great time to check it out. For more than a decade, the Bankhead has welcomed various artists and audiences, bringing them together to share the rich experience of live performance. The aforementioned LVPAC Presents series includes more than 40 exceptional performances throughout the year.

Exposure to the arts has the potential to transform lives. Believe it or not, a single performance can ignite a child’s imagination and fuel creativity for the rest of their lives. Not to mention, LVPAC strives to make each performance affordable and accessible to everyone.

We hope to see you for Rockapella and The Company Men, as well as other upcoming performances. We are proud to be the premier performing arts center in the Tri-Valley area. Book your tickets today or contact us with questions.

“Psychedelic Summer” Concert to Feature Local Band LunaFish

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A local favorite, Livermore-based LunaFish will bring the authentic psychedelic rock music of the late 1960s and early 1970s to a special community concert in the Bankhead Theater. LunaFish will treat those in attendance to a hot summer night of music, filled with timeless hits. Keep reading to learn more about the group, as well as the event.

About LunaFish

LunaFish fans know all about their classic rock style and vocal harmonies. The group reimagines music from what’s been called the most innovative period of rock and roll, feature top hits from artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Eric Clapton, and Jefferson Airplane.

So how did LunaFish get started? Well, it all goes back to founders Jeff Fish and Chris Gattuso-Fish. Interestingly, the two musicians were playing in completely separate projects before joining together.

The duo made their debut 10 years ago at Livermore’s “Tuesday Tunes” outdoor concerts in the center of downtown. They were joined in their passion for classic rock by fellow musicians Bill Ziegler on drums, Michael Fine on bass, and Don Bott on the keyboard. Greg Sutton joined the group two years later.

Part of what makes LunaFish unique is that, unlike other bands, the group sees one another as a family. They strive to be inclusive of everyone, wrapping their audiences up in a sense of togetherness and encouraging them to feel part of the group. Whether it’s singing, dancing, or just tapping their toes, audiences feel as if they’re on stage with LunaFish.

Says Gattuso-Fish, “Music is one of the few things that bring all sorts of people together for a unique experience of commonality and reminds us of our humanity and community.”

It hasn’t all been easy for this local favorite. Seven years ago, Jeff Fish suffered a brain injury from a medical accident. Although one of the group’s founders continues to improve and is learning to walk again, the injury significantly affected his timing, balance, and coordination.

Unfortunately, he has not been able to play the guitar since the accident. Despite such a major obstacle, LunaFish continues to persevere. New additions Kurt Stahl and Tom Rose have become a formidable guitar duo.

Fish continues to be the heartbeat of LunaFish. He serves as the band’s leader, inspiration, and principal motivator. Group members continue to rely on Fish for setlists, arrangement suggestions, and expert feedback.

Says Gattuso-Fish, “Music has helped Jeff heal and persevere through the tough times of recovery, and we hope to help lift others with the music we play and the good times we provide.”

The performance

LunaFish captures your imagination and your memories, interpreting music from what’s been called the most innovative period of rock and roll. The group is set to appear at the Bankhead Theater this coming Friday (August 3) at 8 p.m. General admission seating is $20.

As a reminder, the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center offers both student and active military prices for all performances. Wheelchair spaces and companion seats are also available upon request. Please visit or call the box office to book any of these tickets.

Our performing arts center

Livermore is home to a wealth of talent from the prize-winning student musicians featured each spring by the Livermore-Amador Symphony, to world-renowned jazz vocalist Karen Marguth and more. Resident companies of the Bankhead regularly showcase local musicians, singers, dancers, and actors.

“As the leading performing arts venue in the Tri-Valley, Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center is committed to supporting local groups and artists by putting them on stage and sharing their talents with the community,” says Executive Director Scott Kenison. “‘Psychedelic Summer’ is just the first of what we hope will become a series of community concerts celebrating all our local artists we have to offer.”

LVPAC is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit offering program that provides access to the arts for the Tri-Valley community and beyond. We strive to ensure that everyone can enjoy the arts, whether it’s a marquee performance or any of our family-friendly events.

The Bankhead Theater, together with the Bothwell Arts Center, is home to eight resident performing arts companies and over 40 studio artists and cultural arts instructors.      

We hope to see you for “Psychedelic Summer” with LunaFish & Friends!    

We’re Going Green!

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The “Green the Bankhead” project has been launched! Major initiatives to save energy and reduce costs will make the Bankhead Theater more efficient and environmentally-friendly. The goal is to achieve LEED certification, a globally-recognized rating of a commercial building’s sustainability, by 2019, as well as WELL certification, which assesses measures taken to ensure the health and well-being of patrons and staff.

One of the first changes will be to replace incandescent lightbulbs with LED lighting. They will both reduce energy costs and generate far less heat easing demand on the building’s cooling system. In addition, some of the new fixtures have multiple color LEDs making them more flexible so programming lighting design changes is easier and less labor intensive. Energy costs could be reduced as much as $10,000 inside the auditorium, and closer to twice that amount on stage, for a potential reduction in energy costs of between 20 and 30 percent overall. Other changes include installing solar panels, a project that has long been on our wish list for energy savings, as well as adding low-flow water fixtures, replacing worn carpet with more environmentally-friendly materials, and modifying offices and other spaces to make better use of natural light.

“A potential reduction in energy costs
of between 20 and 30 percent overall.”

David Doyle of Doyle Construction, who has been advising LVPAC on the project, says that while overall LEED certification has become more common locally and many new construction projects incorporate it, the newest version, LEED v4, is significantly more challenging to obtain. The Bankhead would be one of the first theaters in California to achieve the new, higher level of certification. To reach these goals, LVPAC will be working with an experienced team from the Folsom office of Glumac, a sustainable design company of over 45 years who also helped certify the Gerding Theater in Portland, Oregon.

“Green the Bankhead” will both enhance the building’s sustainability and, through significant cost reductions, help the organization be more financially sustainable as well. Initial project improvements do require investment and several generous donors have already stepped up to provide needed resources and funding. Over half of the projected $700,000 cost has already been secured.

Several generous donors have already stepped up to provide needed resources and funding; over half of the projected $700,000 cost has already been secured. According to Chris Carter, Director of Development, not all changes will be made at once. “We’re excited to get the project underway, but are being strategic in balancing the cost against the efforts that provide the greatest value,” he said. “The Bankhead Theater has been a welcoming home for the arts in the center of downtown for more than a decade. We’re grateful to be able to make these changes now to ensure it will continue to serve the community well for years to come.”

If you’re interested in helping to Green the Bankhead,
contact development@lvpac.org



Derik Nelson & Family

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Smooth Family Harmonies

On genuine, passionate interpretations of original and cover songs, Derik Nelson with his siblings, Riana and Dalten, offer a rare opportunity to hear the perfectly blended harmonies only a family can deliver. Derik appeared regularly as lead guitarist on “Glee,” and both Riana and Dalten pursued performance careers, before the three joined together as a group. Now their acoustic jazz and folk infused sound, combined with stunning video displays, creates an irresistible aural and visual journey that appeals to all ages.

Music Workshop for Teens

In the week leading up to the concert, Derik, Riana and Dalten will work with local students in a workshop format, offering a priceless opportunity to expand their musical skills. The weeklong workshop will focus on developing singing, songwriting and performance techniques. At the end of the week, students will showcase their talents in a performance for family and friends.This camp is designed for teens through college age students. Dates are July 9 through July 13 Time:  10am to 4pm. Scholarships available, please contact Kiran Guleria at 925-373-6100 ext. 112 for more information. Space is limited. Register now.

Guitar Greats
at a Great Price

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Don’t miss the rich and versatile sounds of the acoustic guitar at the Bankhead Theater this season!  Three separate performances certain to please guitar lovers start in September with the flamenco-inspired style of Ottmar Liebert and runs into 2019 with International Guitar Night in February hosted by Luca Stricagnoli and Wyndham Hill founder Will Ackerman’s “The Gathering 4 Guitars” in March.  Three great nights … nine great  guitarists!

Get your tickets to all three shows before September 15
and save 10% on the purchase.

Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra:  Nouveau flamenco guitarist Ottmar Liebert is renowned worldwide for his innovative contemporary style incorporating musical influences from rock to reggae. He redefined the art form nearly three decades ago with his signature song “Barcelona Nights” off his double platinum debut album Nouveau Flamenco, which remains one of the best-selling guitar albums of all time. Since then his music has continued to evolve as he has explored different styles and rhythms, adding other instrumentation, but always staying centered on his intricate melodies. With 33 albums, half of which have gone Platinum, Liebert is considered one of the most successful instrumental artists in the world. His rich, sensual sound and relaxed, intimate performances continue to find enthusiastic audiences across all musical genres.  Saturday, September 15 at 8pm

“Music that moves the body while it touches the heart.” – Los Angeles Times

International Guitar NightAfter thrilling Bankhead audiences in 2017 with his showmanship, precision performance, and arrangements of heavy-metal songs, Italy’s innovative contemporary guitarist Luca Stricagnoli will return as host for International Guitar Night.  Founded by renowned Bay Area guitarist Brian Gore, IGN is now in its 18th year of touring. This unique and intimate annual event serves as a showcase for remarkable acoustic guitar talent from around the world. Joining Stricagnoli will be French Swing sensation Antoine Boyer, Flamenco master Samuelito, and Turkish fretless guitarist Cenk Erdogan. All four will present their latest works then perform together, sharing musical ideas through creative collaboration and exploring the diversity of the acoustic guitar world. Thursday, February 28 at 7:30pm

“These four talented musicians bring so much diversity and passion to each performance –
a treat for every acoustic guitar fan.” –Arizona Reporter

The Gathering 4 Guitars:  Grammy Award-winning music producer and guitarist Will Ackerman is universally recognized as the preeminent pioneer in new age music. He single-handedly fostered the careers of generations of acoustic guitarists and pianists through his ground-breaking work at Windham Hill Records. In this intimate evening of acoustic music, Ackerman will be joined by kalimbatar/guitarist Trevor Gordon Hall, Imrat guitar/guitarist Todd Mosby and acoustic guitar maestro Vin Downes, each of whom was selected by Ackerman for their superlative skills and creative compositions. The four unite at the end of the evening to create a concert of unrivaled beauty, intrigue, artistry and wonder. Thursday, March 28 at 7:30pm

“Taking the acoustic guitar into new directions, too, exploring deeply felt, richly individualistic paths
that are striking for their warmth, clarity, and vision.” – Acoustic Guitar

Buy Now! Put all three shows in your cart and
use discount code: GUITAR at check out.

Want to SAVE MORE? Become a member now and your benefits will double the discount. Join here and enjoy the discount and more.

Upcoming Events

Fri 21
Fri 21

The Last Romance

Fri, September 21 @ 8:00 pm
Organizer: Encore Players
Sat 22

The Art of Drama

Sat, September 22 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Sat 22

The Last Romance

Sat, September 22 @ 2:00 pm
Organizer: Encore Players
Sat 22

The Last Romance

Sat, September 22 @ 8:00 pm
Organizer: Encore Players

Call 925.373.6800 or email websales@livermoreperformingarts.org for tickets and information