Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Experience L.A.'s Valley Performing Arts Center

I live in the valley. To many of my friends, it may as well be another universe. "How can you live in the valley?" "What's there to do in the valley?" "How do you entertain yourself?"

Well - to start - I have a house in the valley with lots of convenient services nearby like a grocery store. I guess that's how I can live here. I do all kinds of things in the valley, such as go for walks, take my dog to the park, and talk to my neighbors. As for entertainment, there's plenty: visiting the NoHo Arts District, going to the venerable jazz club Charlie O's, Universal Studios Hollywood, and shopping along Ventura Blvd. And now, I can chalk to this a state-of-the-art, beautiful 1,700 seat performing arts center!

I had the good fortune of taking a private tour of the center last week. Situated on the California State University - Northridge campus, the Valley Performing Arts Center is one of few theatres in the nation that is LEED Certified. Among the things I learned about how the center is designed to be environmentally friendly, I think my favorite fact is how it utilizes mostly natural lighting in the lobby.

With its walls of glass windows, the lobby of the VPAC was designed to achieve an environmental goal, as well as a communal goal. I learned that the architect's vision was to create something that allowed those outside to see in, and those inside to see out, providing a sense of connectedness and community. Both views offer an equally lovely picture. I think it also fulfills the center's belief that art and communication are "essential pillars for building and maintaining community."

There are many other fun facts about the center, such as how the wall panels inside the theatre itself can be rotated to adjust the acoustics and enhance the audience's experience. The Valley Performing Arts Center also boasts its own resident ducks: Patti and Mandy.

Speaking of Patti and Mandy, my only disappointment was learning that the evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin was sold out almost immediately after the season was announced back in February (there is a waitlist if anyone is hopeful). But, the remainder of the season still holds some exciting performances, including the China Philharmonic Orchestra on April 16, an evening with the award-winning Shirley MacClaine on May 6, and the recently-announced concert featuring Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt on June 3.

I still plan on making my trips to Downtown to see shows at the Music Center, but I'm thankful now for a performing arts center to call my own. So, to my friends who ask what's there to do in the Valley? Well, I'd like to invite you to see a show at the Valley Performing Arts Center - they have ducks there!


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