Almost 25 years ago, in 1994, the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza first opened its doors, welcoming audiences of all ages to experience the wonders of the stage. Thousands of incredible performers and some 6.3 million patrons later, the Civic Arts Plaza celebrates its 25th Anniversary with two weekends of special events, including live performances and backstage tours of the newly renovated Fred Kavli Theatre.
“The Anniversary events will present the first opportunity to enjoy the new upgrades to the Kavli Theatre,” says Barry McComb, Cultural Affairs Director for the City of Thousand Oaks.
The renovations—the first upgrades to the auditorium since its opening in 1994—include refurbished theatre seats with new cushions and upholstery, an updated color palette, new carpet and energy-saving LED lighting. In addition, the backstage areas have also been given a facelift, including the creation of a luxurious star’s suite, complete with a dressing room and a comfortable living room for greeting guests.
New additions in the main lobby level will also be unveiled during the October celebration. A new history wall showcases the past 25 years in the theatre, and an artist’s autograph wall in the Founder’s level lobby will feature ceramic tiles signed by many of the performers.
“About four years ago, we started asking artists to sign ceramic tiles; it will be impossible to display them all, so we will move them in and out, displaying about 100 tiles on an ever-evolving wall,” says McComb.
Mark Your Calendars!
The two weekends of activities kick off on Friday, October 4, with a Gala dinner celebration hosted by the Thousand Oaks Alliance for the Arts, the in-house presenter of some 60 shows annually. The Gala event is a fundraiser to support theatre operations and arts education artreach programs and includes dinner, drinks and a special performance with Herb Alpert and Lenny Hall. Tickets are available at TOArts.org for $250.
On Sunday, October 6, 18-year-old Jackie Evancho returns to the Civic Arts Plaza, where she first played five years ago at age 13! Then, on Friday, October 11, former Ms. America Vanessa Williams presents her only West Coast performance, and on Saturday, October 12, the Civic Arts Plaza’s three resident companies perform Hollywood On Stage.
5-Star Theatricals, New West Symphony and Pacific Festival Ballet join forces to showcase the silver screen’s greatest hits in music, dance and theatre. Journeying from stage to screen and back again, the three companies present a show-stopping tribute to Hollywood glamour and legends, weaving together the very best of the love stories, sad stories and the grandest adventures. VIP Premiere Seats include dinner at the theatre!
Finally, on Sunday, October 13, starting at 1 p.m., everyone is invited to an Open House at City Hall and the entire Civic Arts Plaza complex for a behind-the-scenes tour. Guests will enjoy entertainment, food trucks and informative tours of the various services provided onsite as they walk through the city’s various departments and backstage areas of the theatre.
“It’s a great opportunity to see how we do what we do and get a view of the theatre that the general public isn’t typically able to experience,” says McComb, adding that he is proud to play a part in bringing the arts to Thousand Oaks.
“We see kids who have come up through 5-Star Theatrical’s (formerly Cabrillo Musical Theatre) junior program that are now on Broadway, so our theatres really serve as a launch pad for young people,” says McComb. The high caliber of live performances taking place throughout the years at the Civic Arts Plaza has a real impact on the community and “gives people a reason not to get in the car and drive to L.A.,” he laughs.