eLivermore.com - By Bill Nale


Bankhead Theater History

Back to: eLivermore.com Page - Bankhead Theater Main Page 

Fact Sheet
Resident Organizations
Opening Gala
Bernadette Peters


Other Pages:
Main Theater Page
Seating Chart
Photos Page


The Bankhead Theater is a 507 seat Performing Arts theater in Livermore California.  It is owned and operated by the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center (LVPAC), which also operates the Bothwell Center, and is in the planning stages of a 2000 seat Regional Theater.

The theater serves as the home for several Resident Organizations, and also hosts performances by touring acts from the bay area, the US, and around the world.

Fact sheet

Category Information

Source of information

Location Livermore, California, 2400 First Street  
Owner/operator Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center (LVPAC)  
Capacity 507 seats.  Spaces for wheelchairs in 8 locations. Seating Chart
Architect Steve MacCracken  
Construction Contractor Plant Construction, based in San Francisco.  
Square Footage 34,000 sq ft. Architect web site.
Construction Cost $22.3 Million LVPAC web site
Annual Operating Budget $1.5 Million LVPAC web site
Groundbreaking October 2005 LVPAC web site
Initial Construction Spring, 2006 eLivermore.com photos
Opening Ribbon Cutting 9/29/07.  First paid performance 10/1/07 Personal attendance
Performances Season 1 (Sept 07 to Aug 08) had 201 performances.  205 are currently booked the 08-09 season.
76,000 people attended in the 07-08 season.  14,000 of those were youth.
A list of performances is maintained on eLivermore.com's main Bankhead Theater Page
LVPAC web site
Tickets Available Online at the Box Office at the theater from 12:00pm to 6:00pm Monday through Saturday
Online at http://www.livermoreperformingarts.org/
Or by calling the box office at (925) 373-6800
LVPAC web site


Resident Organizations

The Bankhead Theater is home to a variety of Tri-Valley performing arts organizations which have used a variety of venues for performances in the past, including churches and schools.

Organization Activities
Livermore Valley Opera Currently produces 2 productions per year.  Their next projection is La Boheme, starting October 20 at the new theater.
Valley Dance Theatre Performs the Nutcracker in December, and another production in the spring.
Pleasanton Playhouse Four productions per year, performed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for three weeks.
Livermore Amador Symphony The Livermore-Amador Symphony performs about 4 concerts per year, plus accompanies the Nutcracker performance.
Cantabella Children's Chorus Performs a December and Spring concert.
Del Valle Fine Arts Musical Concerts
Valley Concert Chorale A chorus of about 40 singers.  Performs several concerts per year.
California Independent Film Festival Film festival now held in the spring which includes showings in many wineries and theaters.



The theater is part of the Golden Triangle site, which also included the construction of a 13 screen movie theater and restaurant, office, & retail buildings.  The movie theater opened December 15, 2006, about 9 months before the performing arts theater.  Some of the  restaurants and shops began to open in that time frame also.  A number of buildings were torn down in September 2004 to make room for the redevelopment, including the historic Dutcher's Hardware building, which was most recently Livermore Cyclery (which moved to the old Kamp's furniture building on Old First St).  Other buildings removed included the old Valley Garage building, as well as several other buildings along First St.  Much of the block was already vacant.  The old wooden warehouse buildings on Railroad Ave were being removed as they fell apart.  The area where the performing arts theater now sits was most recently a temporary parking lot for the Ace Train station, used while the parking garage was being built.    The entire Golden Triangle area retained only three buildings: The historic Bank of Italy Building (now home of the Independent Newspaper), the Main Street Design Christmas store (open Oct, Nov, and Dec), and an automotive tune-up shop.  The tune-up shop is by far the newest of the three, but its site has been suggested for a future hotel.

The groundbreaking occurred in October 2005, with initial construction beginning in the spring of 2006.  The construction of the theater is chronicled in photos here on eLivermore.com starting on this web page.

Once the construction had progressed to a level where it was safe, and there was something to see, tours were given of the construction site.  The first (to my knowledge) was December 10, 2006.  eLivermore.com was present for this and several others, which normally occurred on the 3rd Thursday of the month.  See photos from December 2006May 2007 June 2007August 2007.




The theater name comes with a large donation from the Bankhead family.

The Bankheads are a third-generation Livermore family who, over the years, have raised both sheep and cattle on several ranches within the city. From five sons and one daughter, the family has grown to include twenty-one grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. In addition to the family matriarch, Evelyn, two of the original children, Nancy and Malcolm, both born at St. Paul’s Hospital, still reside in Livermore. The family’s interest and involvement in the arts can be traced to Evelyn’s arrival in the Valley from San Francisco to teach at the 5th Street School. She was an officer of the Livermore Valley Concert Society and a founder of the Livermore Cultural Arts Council an association of educational and cultural organizations in 1966. “We believe in the Performing Arts Center. It’s a great thing for Livermore and the Tri-Valley,” said Nancy Bankhead, who carries on her mother’s arts and cultural interests by serving as Vice President of LCAC. “The activities that will be supported in the new theater are things that my mom has always enjoyed. We are thrilled to help provide the funding to realize this long-time community dream.”

The above is directly from an LVPAC press release.


Opening Gala

The theater opened with a two week gala featuring national and international talent as well as local performances from many of the resident organizations.  The headlining performance was a concert by Bernadette Peters.

Ribbon Cutting and Open House

The gala began on September 29 with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11:00am, held in front of the theater.  Speakers included Len Alexander (LVPAC executive director),  Scott Haggerty (Alameda County Supervisor), Joan Seppala (publisher of the Independent Newspaper and President of LVPAC), and Marshall Kamena (Livermore Mayor).  Performances included the Livermore High School band, the Livermore - Granada Chamber Chorale.  Connie Post, Livermore's poet laureate, read the poem written for the event, titled "After the Ground Has Been Broken (see below).

The actual ribbon cutting was done in front of the theater, featuring the Bankhead family, for whom the theater is named, the LVPAC board of directors, local officials, and others.

An Open House followed the Ribbon Cutting, from 12:00 to 4:00pm.  The entire theater was open, including backstage, the dressing rooms, and the orchestra pit.

The ribbon cutting ceremony was videotaped by eLivermore.com (the video is not online).  DVD copies have been provided to LVPAC, and it will become part of the Livermore Heritage Guild's video archives.

Additional Photos of the ribbon cutting.


Connie Post
Livermore Poet Laureate
(Dedicated to the Opening of the Livermore
Performing Arts Center September 29, 2007)

After each wall
Has been elevated
By the quiet strength of familiar hands

After the concrete has found its way
Deep into the earth

After the rain has dried
From near by roads

When even the wind stops
To feel the texture of stone

You find a place
Where a town will gather
Open its arms
And sing in an octave

Never before heard


Even when the ground
Was first broken
Voices could be heard
Dances remembered
Symphonies played

But no one could have known
How the sky would change

How even the clouds would silently nod
To a concerto
–Lean forward to hear each note

No one could have known
How a structure can call our name
Know our story
Tell us to step across
The threshold

And find a seat
Where we know
We have always belonged

By Connie Post
Livermore Poet Laureate


Initial Performances

Hardhat Performance
The first performance at the theater was the Hardhat Performance on Sunday, September 30, at 2:00pm.  This performance was a Thank You to the construction workers who built the theater and their families.  Tickets were free.  As there were a lot of tickets remaining, free tickets were given to anyone who requested them at the box office in the days before the performance.  This was not generally publicized, however.  The theater was about one third full, unlike the many full houses that would follow.  Only about three construction workers actually attended, as evidenced by a show of hands when asked.

The performances were excellent, beginning with the Cantabella Children's Chorus, who performed a variety of music.  They were followed by the Pleasanton Playhouse Broadway Chorus, who invited the audience to sing along on a number of show tunes.   After an intermission, the concert concluded with a Latin band.

Additional Photos


The Four Freshmen
The first paid performance was by The Four Freshmen on October 1, 2007.  They said that they had never opened a theater before but joked that they had closed a few down.  In fact they were the last performance in a few theaters that were then closed (not due to their performance).  They played to a sold out house as can be seen in the photo below.  It was a great performance, and a perfect theater opening. 

Additional Photos.

The 2 week Gala consisted of the following performances and events:

Date Day Time Type Photo Link Event
(Links go to eLivermore.com calendar
with event details)
Sponsoring Organization
(link to their web site)
Sept 29 Sat 11:00am
Open House
See Photos Bankhead Theater Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Bankhead Theater Open House
Sept 30 Sun 2:00PM Vocal See Photos Hardhat Concert Cantabella Children's Chorus
Pleasanton Playhouse Broadway Chorus
Oct 1 Mon 8:00pm Vocal See Photos The Four Freshman LVPAC
Oct 2 Tues 7:00pm Music/
  Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance Valley Concert Chorale
Livermore School of Dance
Oct 3 Wed 8:00pm Music   San Jose Brass Plus Del Valle Fine Arts
Oct 4 Thurs 8:00pm Award   Pleasanton Playhouse's 4th Annual Player Awards Pleasanton Playhouse
Oct 6 Sat 8:00pm Music
See Photos Gala - Bernadette Peters in Concert LVPAC
Oct 7 Sun 2:00pm Dance   Bringing Art to Life Valley Dance Theatre
Oct 8 Mon 7:00pm Meeting   Livermore City Council Meeting City of Livermore
Oct 9 Tues 7:30pm Kung-Fu See Photos Shaolin Warriors - Legendary Masters of Kung-Fu LVPAC
Oct 10 Wed 8:00pm Music   Doc Watson & David Holt LVPAC
Oct 11 Thur 8:00pm Symphony   Brandenburg Concertos Pacific Chamber Symphony
Oct 12 Fri 6 & 8:30pm Dance   Bay Area Dance Company - Premium Blend Bay Area Dance Company
Oct 13 Sat 8:00pm Play
  All the World's a Stage: The Bard, Baritones, and Bassoons! Livermore Valley Opera
Livermore Amador Symphony
Shakespeare's Associates


Bernadette Peters
The Gala Opening was headlined by a concert by Bernadette Peters, accompanied by an approximately 30 piece orchestra.  Tickets sold for $175, $500, and $750.  The upper two price ranges included a dinner in the plaza with entertainment.  All tickets included a champagne and dessert reception in front of the theater following the performance.

The performance was incredible, thrilling the audience.  The play list was as follows:

Song Musical Music / Lyrics



Let Me Entertain You

from "Gypsy: A Musical Fable"

Jule Styne / Stephen Sondheim

No One Is Alone

from "Into the Woods"

Stephen Sondheim

There is Nothing Like a Dame

from "South Pacific"

Richard Rodgers / Oscar Hammerstein


  Eddie Cooley / Otis Blackwell

The Gentleman is a Dope

from "Allegro"

Richard Rodgers / Oscar Hammerstein

Unexpected Song

from "Song and Dance"

Andrew Lloyd Webber / Don Black

Mr. Snow

from "Carousel"

Richard Rodgers / Oscar Hammerstein

Some Enchanted Evening

from "South Pacific"

Richard Rodgers / Oscar Hammerstein




American Folk Song


Not a Day Goes By

from "Merrily We Roll Along"

Stephen Sondheim

Time Heals Everything

from "Mack & Mabel"

Jerry Herman

You Could Drive a Person Crazy

from "Company"

Stephen Sondheim

With So Little To Be Sure of / Children Will Listen

from "Anyone Can Whistle"
from "Into the Woods"

Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim

Move On

from "Sunday in the Park with George"

Stephen Sondheim

Being Alive

from "Company"

Stephen Sondheim

Rose's Turn

from "Gypsy: A Musical Fable"

Jule Styne / Stephen Sondheim

Count Your Blessings

from "White Christmas"

Irving Berlin

When she mentioned that she was staying in Pleasanton, the hushed reaction caused her to joke "Oh, is there a bit of a rivalry going on here between the cities"

At the end of the performance, Len Alexander, the Executive Director of LVPAC, presented her with a bouquet of roses.

Additional Photos



Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center (LVPAC) Operates the theater
Livermore Cultural Arts Council  
City of Livermore  
Connie Post City of Livermore Poet Laureate
eLivermore.com Pages The site that hosts this page
  Main Bankhead Theater Page Schedule, etc.
  Seating Chart  
  Golden Triangle Photo Main Page The Bankhead Theater is in the Golden Triangle.
Main Photo Page links to over 40 pages of photos
Resident Organizations  
Livermore Valley Opera  
Valley Dance Theatre  
Pleasanton Playhouse  
Livermore Amador Symphony  
Cantabella Children's Chorus  
Del Valle Fine Arts  
Valley Concert Chorale  
California Independent Film Festival