‘Live and Local’ at the Firehouse Arts Center this season | news

The theater doors at the Firehouse Arts Center have opened for a new season that promises to be “the most diverse and unique series of performances and shows yet” for the city-operated venue in downtown Pleasanton.

It will also be the most Bay Area-focused lineup to date.

The 2022-23 schedule, which officially opened this past weekend with Oakland’s MJ’s Brass Boppers, is packed to the brim with singers, comedians, actors, musicians and other entertainers from across the Bay, including Pleasanton natives Jeff Bordes, Solomon Alber and Lauryn Marie, Pleasanton Youth Theater Company, local teenage improv company Creatures of Impulse and the Tri-Valley Repertory Theater’s spring musical – all in addition to other recurring favorites that have wowed Firehouse audiences before.

“We’re having a fantastic rebound season in 2022-23 and I hope guests will come along and try something new with us,” Mark Duncanson, Pleasanton City Director of Leisure, told the Weekly.

Duncanson, a lead organizer of the Firehouse’s annual planning process and a longtime cast and director himself, said he’s thrilled that behind-the-scenes efforts have resulted in an inspired lineup that has “really something for everyone” at the intimate 220-seat venue offers venue on Railroad Avenue.

“I’m heavily involved in planning the acts for the season. I’m considering starting with the audience, which we’ve increased since opening in 2010. My goal is to nurture our returning audience while attracting a new audience,” he said.

“Being in touch with all of our artists from initial inquiry through booking to performance means I’m constantly reflecting on the season, learning from our audiences and artists, and being reinvigorated by our cast,” added Duncanson. “I am able to bring joy to artists and patrons. I can be in the room when art is shared and appreciated. I can welcome returning favorites and introduce new artists to new patrons.”

The Firehouse remains in full swing in its new season, with a series of shows this fall that illustrate the live and local theme.

Oakland native Eve Marie Shahoian performs “Take Me to the World & Company” this Friday night with musical theater songs, jazz standards and original arrangements.

“Girls Night Out… and Guys Too! An Evening of Music & Comedy follows on Saturday night (October 8), a comedy cabaret featuring Tielle Baker and pianist Joe Simiele alongside rising stars of the San Francisco comedy scene. Comedian Joe Klocek, another San Francisco club favorite, will follow next Friday (October 14) at the Firehouse.

The Magic of Andy Amyx hits the Pleasanton stage on October 20th. The stand-up magician is known for “elegant dexterity and manipulation with amazing feats of illusion, comedy and audience participation,” according to Firehouse officials.

Another highlight of the month will be “Loving Janis”, in which Bay Area singers Kyra Gordon and Mimi Fox perform the music of American folk and rock legends Janis Joplin and Janis Ian in a narrative concert.

“This updated version of ‘Loving Janis,’ reimagined, is the culmination of a collaboration, mentorship and chemistry that has developed between Kyra and Mimi,” the show’s promoters said Oct. 22. “The connection and interpretation between them has resulted in a concert that takes the audience through the fascinating careers of the two amazing Janises.”

While Duncanson admits he’s excited to see so many of the acts perform (“it’s hard to name just one because I’m such a nerd to everyone we book,” he said), Duncanson is excited to focus especially on “Loving Janis” and finally to book Gordon in the Firehouse.

“I’ve known Kyra since around 2011 when she performed with the Bay Area improv hip-hop group The Freeze. Kyra is an accomplished singer-songwriter, pianist and all-round wonderful person,” he told the Weekly.

Duncanson also has a key role in a November premiere show, the Back to School Special, starring cast from the Pleasanton Youth Theater Company, produced by the Firehouse and hosted by Duncanson and Kimberly MacLean on November 12.

“Relive those fearful, embarrassing and beautiful moments live on stage as people like you read recent diary entries, school notes, notes or simply recount moments from their younger years. Cut with music and occasional live re-enactments by professional improv artists, this evening is ready to make you laugh, cry and shudder,” fire department officials said.

Young artists from the Tri-Valley are a big part of the Firehouse’s program this season.

PYTC also has “Elf the Musical Jr.” in December, Disney’s Frozen Kids in January, Honk Jr. in March and April, and Spamalot from its summer drama camps in July.

Creatures of Impulse, the City of Pleasanton’s award-winning teen improv group, have five shows on their calendar: Nightmares (Oct. 27-29), Holiday Shorts (Nov. 29, Dec. 1-2) , Face-Off (February 23-25), Puppets of Impulse (May 18-20) and the annual Tri-Valley High: The Series (July).

The High School Music Collaborative has a number of performances on the agenda, including the Villains cabaret in November and the Holiday Youth Music Festival in December.

This season’s marquee theater production will be Tri-Valley Rep’s interpretation of the musical adaptation of “The Song of the Nightingale,” composed and written by Bay Area resident Min Kahng. Ticket sales for the annual musical, which runs from April 29th to May 14th, will begin shortly.

The remainder of the 2022-23 lineup includes an eclectic array of solo and group artists.

Amador Valley High School graduate Jeff Bordes, a trumpeter and jazz composer, will perform twice on his hometown’s main stage – “Jeff Bordes and Friends: A Jazzy Christmas” is scheduled for December 17 and “Jeff Bordes and Friends’ Mardi Gras Celebration” is February 18th.

Other dons on the list include Logan Kane as part of the electro-jazz group Dolphin Hyperspace on February 3rd, Solomon Alber & The Jazz Androids” on March 4th and Lauryn Marie on March 10th.

Tri-Valley band CaliCeltic will help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th.

Other notable acts from the Bay Area and Northern California coming to the Firehouse include the TOaG Quartet, playing original Black American music on November 18th, the Improv Playhouse of San Francisco on January 13th, indie singer-songwriter Emily Zisman on February 17, alternative pop-punk-rock group “Until further notice” on March 3, and “The Tall Blonde at the Callback” with Susan Tonkin on April 20.

There are tribute shows for famous artists like Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Glen Campbell and Billie Holiday, recurring favorites like the Christmas revue Golden Follies and We Banjo 3, reflective programs like A Broadway Celebration with Deborah Del Mastro and Deep River. . : The Flow of Negro Spirituals Through Time” and the Firehouse Short Film Festival.

“We’re also very fortunate to have singer-songwriter and LGBTQ+ activist Ryan Cassata on our calendar,” Duncanson said of the April 21 concert. “I was fortunate enough to have Ryan perform in the summer of 2011 and got to know him, his music and his heart and can’t wait to have him perform as part of our presenting season.”

Regarding the new season in general, Duncanson said it presented an entertaining mix of the new and the familiar for Pleasanton audiences.

“We’re excited to help our guests discover new artists at the Firehouse; reminding us how it felt to hear their favorite artists for the first time,” he said in a city press release. “We also want to be a place that opens doors to emerging artists. There is such a unique energy when new artists and audiences come together in an intimate space like the Firehouse. To improve perspective with our returning artists.”

“If something looks fun, sounds interesting or you just want to know more – buy some tickets and experience art with us,” added Duncanson. “This is not just a performing arts venue, we aim to be a community center for the arts.”

To see the full schedule, buy tickets and learn more, visit firehousearts.org.

Editor’s Note: After the original version of this story was published, officials at Firehouse Arts told The Weekly that the Tri-Valley Repertory Theater was producing a different Min Kahng than they originally reported. Tri-Valley Rep will present The Song of the Nightingale next spring.

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