Whether it's time for a night out on the town, a special occasion or to enjoy a favorite local artist live, the newly announced lineup of shows at the Firehouse Arts Center this season seeks to suffice.
The downtown Pleasanton performing arts venue has opened its doors this month for the start of its 2023-24 season, a roster of performers that aims to represent a dynamic, diverse batch of local favorites, touring groups and new acts alike.
"We're so pumped to kick off such a fun season at the Firehouse Arts Center. It's been a pleasure diving into the arts with our audiences and getting to know so many people at events," said Firehouse recreation supervisor Mark Duncanson, who plays a major role in the scheduling, management and logistics of the shows.
"When selecting the acts for this season, we considered feedback from community members captured through focus groups, community meetings and surveys," Duncanson told the Weekly. "We continue to focus on local Pleasanton and Bay Area musicians along with emerging touring acts this season."
"As a 220-seat venue in the Bay Area, we have the unique opportunity to be part of a fun and rich community of local talent and emerging touring acts," he added.
While launching last year's set, the Firehouse doubled-down on its vision for a "Live and Local" direction going forward. With this new theme, the venue sought to spotlight the most unique and engaging shows to draw broader audiences and uncover emerging artists.
"As a part of the city of Pleasanton's value of inclusion, our shared hope is to showcase more cultures and identities on stage so a wider representation of our community sees their stories at the Firehouse Arts Center," Duncanson said.
The first month of the new season carries on Sept. 23 with a tribute to the classic '80s band Duran Duran. The group "Duran Duran Duran" makes an appearance to show off their electric moves and eye-catching outfits.
Sept. 29 will see a performance by Broadway musical theater actor Aaron LaVigne, who hits the Firehouse stage fresh off his lead role in a touring production of "Jesus Christ Superstar". In his set, LaVigne plans to perform original and cover songs, and invite students of the Firehouse's High School Music Collaborative to join him for several songs.
Singer-songwriter Tony Furtado brings his wide-ranging repertoire and multi-instrumental talents to the Firehouse on Oct. 6. Playing banjo, cello, guitar and ukulele -- just to name a few -- Furtado is known to showcase his skills with flair.
Comedian Kellen Erskine, known for appearances on "Conan," Comedy Central, "America's Got Talent", "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and the television series "Inside Jokes", brings his material to the Firehouse on Oct. 13.
Oct. 19 the four part jazz vocal group säje makes their Firehouse debut. The group earned a Grammy nomination for their first single, "Desert Song".
Two-time Grammy Award winner Mads Tolling and Grammy nominee Jon R. Burr team up for a performance of their newly released duo album. Pairing simple violin and piano together for a unique blend of jazz, the pair come to town Oct. 21.
"The Firehouse Arts Center is more than just a performing arts venue -- it's also a community center for the arts. Our theater programs expose youth and teens to a broad range of artistic disciplines, where they can explore something new or hone their skills," Duncanson said.
"Our theater serves as an important gathering place for the community to join together, build meaningful connections, and exchange ideas," he added.
For the winter and holiday season, the Firehouse Arts Center has packed its lineup with shows to interest all.
Throughout the month of December, the Pleasanton Youth Theater Company shows off their skills in a heartwarming production of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer JR" (based on the 1964 animated film). Shows take place Dec. 8-17.
New to the Firehouse stage, Chorus Eclectic will perform a number of holiday songs for their "Winter Wonderland" on Dec. 14.
Returning once again to his hometown mainstage, Jeff Bordes will liven up the place with his signature jazz and style when Jeff Bordes & Friends perform "A New Orleans Christmas" on Dec. 16. The group has a second concert set for Feb. 17 at the Firehouse.
"We are fortunate to have built relationships with a group of artists that have become Firehouse traditions, like Jeff Bordes & Friends, Golden Follies, and Jim Anderson and the Rebels 'Happy Birthday, Elvis' show," Duncanson said. "Some newer returning favorites that audiences can look forward to are 2021 American Songwriter winner and Pleasanton local Lauryn Marie (Jan. 6), and Stella Heath's 'Stella Meets Nat: the Music of Nat King Cole' (Feb. 16)."
"Our team is passionate about sharing our love of the arts with the community," Duncanson said. "Not only do we get to introduce audiences to some truly exceptional and entertaining performances, we also have the joy of immersing individuals in the world of performing arts."
At the start of the new year, the Firehouse has plans to revitalize its theater and innovate the way productions are carried out. The current traditional proscenium style of seating will be replaced with seasonal flooring, according to Duncanson.
The new layout will allow for an immersive and intimate show experience. For "Firehouse 80s Dance Party" Jan. 19, guests can enjoy a dance-hall style set up as they move in neon leg warmers and high-waisted jeans.
"We're (also) looking forward to acts like the Bay Area locals Americano Social Club's 'Family Ruckus' (Jan. 13), Pleasanton locals Moving Parts (Jan. 20), Pleasanton favorites The CoolTones (Jan. 27), and much more," Duncanson shared.
Schedule highlights as 2024 rolls along include "ABBAFAB" bringing ABBA hit songs to the live stage once again on March 2-3.
"We are excited to bring new artists, diverse perspectives and fresh voices to energize our audiences. We hope audiences will also be excited to see the return of several familiar Firehouse favorites," Duncanson said. "As a community center for the arts, we strive to appeal to the entire community and engage individuals of all ages, interests, and artistic tastes."
To find out more information or see the full list of scheduled performances, visit www.firehousearts.org.