Livermore Valley Arts this week unveiled the 2023-24 lineup for its Bankhead Presents series of shows at the downtown entertainment venue. Eclectic barely begins to describe the list.
"There is a good mix of genres this year that will continue to bring high quality Arts programming to our community," LVA Executive Director Chris Carter said in a statement. "If you asked me to pick just one or two shows on my list, I couldn't do it -- I'm excited for just about everything, I couldn't pick!"
I'd be right there with him (of course, nobody is really asking me though), but there is little doubt that next season's schedule fits the bill for the theater LVA espouses as "an intimate space that performers and audiences alike treasure".
Now I'll be honest with you. I've been in and around the Bankhead Theater for work reasons plenty of times, but I've only seen one show there personally in my near-decade tenure with Embarcadero Media -- a Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre rendition of the modern musical classic "Avenue Q". What a stellar experience that was, thanks largely to the production's embracing of the up-close-and-personal venue.
I just might have to make myself get out to the Bankhead more, looking at next season's intriguing schedule.
LVA really jumps out of the gate strong with its September slate. The Brilliance at the Bankhead gala featuring Tony- and Emmy-winning performer Jason Alexander (of "Seinfeld" fame) opens the 2023-24 season on Sept. 9.
The major names then continue throughout the month: Five for Fighting, best known for the 2001 hit "Superman (It's Not Easy)", performs with a string quartet on Sept. 15 (and apparently he's a solo singer-songwriter, not a band ... guess I am that naive); creative vocal legend Bobby McFerrin ("Don't Worry, Be Happy") performs the next night; and comedy favorite Amy Sedaris follows on Sept. 22.
There's also the "Best of San Francisco Comedy Competition" at the Bankhead on Sept. 21, "When You Wish Upon a Star: A Jazz Tribute to 100 Years of Disney" on Sept. 29 and the opener of the Rae Dorough Speaker Series, television personality Kari Byron of "MythBusters" fame, on Sept. 28.
The other speakers in the annual Livermore series include health justice lawyer Priti Krishtel, music expert Scott Freiman presenting "Deconstructing The Beatles" and Dr. Aomawa Shields presenting "Life on Other Planets" (plus a fifth and final person yet to be announced).
I'm going to have to cherrypick from here because as much as I'd love to highlight all 50ish shows on the list, 700 or so words in the paper can only go so far.
Recognizable acts set to play include The Righteous Brothers on Oct. 11 and 12 (who doesn't love their original lineup's version of "Unchained Melody"?), John Tesh: Big Band Live on Oct. 22, Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell on Nov. 10, "Songs and Stories with Roger McGuinn" (of Byrds fame) on April 12 and Paula Cole on April 20 (her "I Don't Want to Wait" and "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" stand out on any 1990s playlist).
The music of The Beatles and Johnny Cash are among the tribute shows on the docket. And don't sleep on "Rising Voices" on Nov. 17, featuring up-and-comers Lizzie No, Buffalo Nichols and Sunny War.
Returning groups include Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Carlos Moreno, Nava Dance Theatre, International Guitar Night, Funny Women of a Certain Age and Danú: Traditional Music of Ireland.
There will be "Napoleon Dynamite Live" with three of the original stars of the movie, "History That Doesn't Suck" (Bankhead Presents' first time hosting a live podcast), the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, "'Coco' In Concert", Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's "Wild and Swingin' Holiday Party", "God is a Scottish Drag Queen", a special free presentation by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director Kim Budil and Livermore native Jason Lyle Black's "From Blockbusters to Broadway: 100 Hits of Stage & Screen".
Large theater productions will include "Cross That River, The Musical" in late fall and L.A. Theatre Works' "A Weekend with Pablo Picasso" in late winter.
The Bankhead will also host resident companies with their own shows separate from the LVA's "Presents" programming: Tri-Valley Rep, Cantabella Children's Chorus, Del Valle Fine Arts, Livermore Valley Opera, Valley Dance Theatre, Valley Concert Chorale, Livermore-Amador Symphony and Pacific Chamber Orchestra.
Check out the list of shows for yourself at livermorearts.org.