Forget winning an Oscar or having a hit record. Hey, even forget perpetual motion. If you want to live happily ever after, figure out an act, or dozens of acts, that will appeal to everyone, and you'll live happily ever after.

Of course, doing that, particularly on a budget, is about as impossible as grabbing the brass ring with perpetual motion. Sure, booking hot headliners into stadiums and arenas will make you some cash fast, but suppose you're putting together a show for a venue that seats fewer than 300, like Pleasanton's Firehouse Arts Center or any of dozens of other venues around the Bay Area? Rob Vogt, who works for the City of Pleasanton and books acts into the Firehouse, thinks about that a lot.

"We're doing pretty well, really," he said. "It does depend on the name of the act, but if we have a local angle, that seems to help. And, I've discovered over the years, there's a real audience for rock and roll in Pleasanton, so we're moving in that direction as well."

Vogt said the city tries to offer a "nice variety" of acts to suit the wide age range and interests of the theater's patrons in bringing in acts and in the work of regular resident companies of the theater, such as the Pacific Coast Repertory Company, children's theater productions and Creatures of Impulse, the resident improv group.


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Those along with other local programs by those who rent the facility, make up a good portion of the theater's year. Then there are the 40 dates last year and the 20 to 25 dates planned so far this year, when outside touring acts are booked into the 227-seat venue.

"This year, for the first time, we are working with a focus group of Pleasanton residents to get their ideas," Vogt said, "then we see who is touring through the area and what we can afford."

Also, he meets with local producers, particularly Jim Douglas, of Prime Time Entertainment in Livermore, and Steven Shore, from Esses Productions in Contra Costa County.

He recalls a meeting with Shore when he mentioned that the Firehouse audience would like some kind of Andrew Lloyd Webber program. And not long after that, Shore approached him with "The World of Webber: A Cabaret Tribute to the Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber," which returns to the Firehouse Theater Aug. 10.

"Basically, we design and produce entertainment projects," said Shore, who with his partner, Samantha Samuels, operates Esses (note the first initials of their names) Productions.

"Esses is an independent production company that works with different venues on events. We sit with them and talk and come up, conceptually, with the kind of show they want."

The Webber show, featuring Tielle Baker, Kelly Brandeburg and Kyle Martin and musical director Evan Alparone, who have done other projects with Esses, will become another of a number of shows created by the firm, and part of the repertoire they can offer to clients. Their productions range from cabaret tributes to Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley to programs featuring shows highlighting Broadway and other composers and performers of the Great American Songbook.

"What we have now is a little catalog of shows, revues and tributes we put together ourselves, with which, to everybody's benefit, we can create a little circuit," he said. "That way, we can keep costs down and develop a support base for our shows and the shows presented in the theaters."

The Webber show, in the Firehouse at 4444 Railroad Ave., Pleasanton, will be at 8 p.m. Aug. 10. Tickets, at $15 to $25 may be reserved at 925-931-4848 or www.firehousearts.org.

Contact Pat Craig at pjcraig495@yahoo.com.