The diversity of the lineup of performances at the Valley Performing Arts Center is impressive. On the schedule are shows presenting jazz, comedy, dance, and classical cello. But Thor Steingraber, the new Executive Director of the VPAC, says, “Something for everyone is not only about the lineup, it’s also about who comes here. Of course we can always diversify the offerings, but equally as valuable is the diversity of the audience in the theatre. That’s a priority for me to fill every last seat in our extraordinarily beautiful venue, and fill it with a real cross section of the people who live in the San Fernando Valley.”
The variety of upcoming shows will help make that happen. On Saturday, April 26, Straighten Up and Fly Right – the Nat King Cole Tribute features Ramsey Lewis and John Pizzarelli. Lewis and Pizzarelli have crafted a salute to the legendary singer that is a must-see for lovers of great music and sophisticated jazz. On May 9, Lily Tomlin, award-winning comedienne of Laugh-In fame, is bringing her talent and much-loved characters (Edith Ann, Ernestine, Mrs. Beasley, etc.) to the VPAC’s Great Hall for her comedy showcase. On May 17, Ballroom with a Twist is a high-energy dance extravaganza that is a fusion of Broadway, classical and ballroom. It is directed and brilliantly choreographed by Louis Van Amstel (of Dancing with the Stars fame) who has a jam-packed lineup of celebrity dancers and singers. Plus on April 24, the Emerging Artist Series presents Gabriel Cabezas, superb cello soloist.
With more than 24 years of artistic and management experience, Steingraber is the former v.p. for programming at the downtown Music Center, but now he proudly says there is a world class venue in The Valley, the 1,700-seat LEED Gold certified Valley Performing Arts Center established at California State University, Northridge. “We serve a big geographic area that had previously been underserved. But we have put down roots in the community to make this a hub for live performing arts. I know there are many people who drive by the venue on Nordhoff Street and see the big beautiful building, and think about coming in. But those who actually come in have a great experience, with convenient parking, easy access from all the freeways, eating options, and a top shelf customer service staff in the front of the house.”
Once VPAC is experienced, people come back. It was recently ranked number three among “The 25 Most Amazing College Campus Theaters in the U.S.” on the Best College Ranking list. Steingraber reveals, “Audiences and artists are always eager to return once they have experienced us, especially those artists who work acoustically, because the acoustics are exceptional.” He adds that this great community venue reflects “that we are part of the entertainment capital of the world.”
The Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) is on the campus of California State University, located at 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge, 91330. For more information and tickets, visit VPAC’s website at valleyperformingartscenter.org or call (818) 677-3000.