Published October 21, 2008
Volume 16, Number 10

Pleasanton Playhouse Marks Coming of Age with New Name: Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre

Reaching the quarter-century mark is a milestone worth celebrating. Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre (TVRT) is doing just that, in a very special way. Formerly Pleasanton Playhouse, the community theatre group has changed its name to reflect a wider reach and expanded scope since adding its second venue, Livermore’s recently opened Bankhead Theater.

Performing at the 500-seat Bankhead means a broadened repertoire and the ability to mount more complex productions, such as the rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” that wrapped up the company’s 24th season this past summer, observes TVRT publicity manager Eric Inman. On stage, “we had to change a beast into a human being in a matter of seconds,” and then levitate the character into the air. It was a difficult technical challenge to execute, he remarks.

This season TVRT pushes the boundaries even further, with nine performances of the acclaimed “Miss Saigon” slated for the weekends of October 24 through November 9.  Widely described as “one of the most stunning theatrical spectacles of all time,” this production will include the legendary scene of American evacuees clambering into a helicopter on the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in the waning days of the Viet Nam war.

“We will have an actual helicopter appearing on the stage, and it’s pretty marvelous,” relates Inman, who then pulls back the curtain a bit to explain how that happens.  The chopper, a scaled-down version rented from a business that specializes in making props for the regional stage, arrived in Livermore in pieces and was assembled on site. The Bankhead’s advanced rigging system allows it to be lowered to the stage, recreating the drama of the panicked departure.  Considering that new theaters in Stuttgart and Toronto were designed expressly for this musical, this regional production represents a significant accomplishment.

It will be actors, not a helicopter, flying through the air when the TVRT’s 25th season wraps up with the much-loved classic, “Peter Pan,” in July and August of next year. “We’ve picked this season’s repertoire to leverage the space we’re in,” Inman comments. “It allows us to tap our artistic creativity with some fantastic shows to watch,” he promises.

In addition to the main stage musicals at the Bankhead, TVRT will continue the varied offerings at its Pleasanton-based Studio Theatre, where resident producer JoAnn Loitz and production manager Kathleen Breedveld “work their magic,” according to Inman. The intimate setting of the 87-seat studio promotes a more intense human connection between performers and audience. “You can see all the emotions, movements, and subtle tics of the actors. Their vocal dynamics fill the stage with sound,” he notes. 

TVRT also sponsors the Broadway Chorus and Youth Choir and Summer Theatre Camp for children in grades one through eight. For information on upcoming productions and schedules, visit www.trivalleyrep.com. Show tickets can also be purchased by phone at (925) 462-2121.


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