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Top Tickets: July 18-24

Diablo’s can’t-miss events of the coming week: Livermore’s Taste of Terroir, Danville’s Hot Summer Nights, the Chevron Family Theatre Festival, Blues & Brews, movies paired with wine and ballet, and more.

Chevron Family Theatre Festival / photo by Ben Krantz

Hello! How was your week? Mine was great. I caught the just-opened 25th anniversary production of Les Miserables in San Francisco. The cast was strong throughout but especially Peter Lockyer as Jean Valjean, who captivated the audience with “Bring Him Home,” and Shawna Hamic, whose comedic timing as Madame Thenardier outshone her onstage spouse. The addition of dynamic background screens brought depth to the sets, but seeing only one side of the barricade (which spins in traditional stagings) sacrified some of the battle scene’s emotion. The music, of course, is as beautiful and powerful as ever. Les Miserables runs through August 26 at the Orpheum Theatre.

Diablo’s Jenna Valdespino attended the opening reception for UC Botanical Garden’s new installation Natural Discourse, which pairs the garden's impressive collection of plants with works by artists, architects, scientists, and poets. Here’s what she had to say: “The 11 featured works were unlike anything I’d seen before, and the surrounding plants and hills made it that much more of a rare experience. The towering redwood walls of repurposed water tanks from the 1900s gave 'Water Pavilion' an especially natural feel, making it one of my favorite pieces.” The exhibit runs through January 20.

Even more fun is headed our way this week. Here are my top event picks:

Cavalia / photo by Frédéric ChéhuJuly 18: Winemakers Night
Before a screening of the hilarious Best Picture–nominated wine country road trip flick Sideways, taste wines from four Livermore Valley wineries (Cuda Ridge, La Rochelle, Ruby Hill, and Rodrique Molyneaux). Then, following the film, ask the winemakers your burning questions during a Q&A panel session. Vine Cinema & Alehouse, 1722 First St., Livermore, 6–10 p.m., $12, (925) 447-2545, vinecinema.com.

July 18: The Red Shoes
Diablo Ballet kicks off its Dance on Film series with The Red Shoes. The 1948 film is about a young dancer town between the man she loves and the dream of becoming a prima ballerina. The series continues with An American In Paris (August 15) and West Side Story (September 12). Lafayette Library, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, 6:30 p.m., $5, (925) 943-1775, diabloballet.org/performance.html.

July 18–August 5: Cavalia
Created by one of the cofounders of Cirque du Soleil, this dreamlike production features 47 horses and their riders—as well as aerialists, acrobats, and dancers. The San Jose tour stop was recently extended another week, due to red-hot ticket sales, so don’t miss out! White Big Top, 301 Atmel Way, San Jose, times vary, $39–$140, (866) 999-8111, cavalia.net.

July 19: Taste of Terroir
In French, the word terroir translates to “land, soil, or more poetically, a sense of place.” Dive into the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Livermore Valley Wine Country at this evening of food and wine pairings from Bay Area chefs and winemakers, live music, and auctions. Palm Event Center, 1184 Vineyard Ave., Pleasanton, 6–9 p.m., $85, (925) 447-9463, lvwine.org.

Obasi Davis at Youth Poetry Slam / photo by Ashleigh ReddyJuly 19 and August 16: Hot Summer Nights
Hot rods and muscle cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s take over downtown Danville at this popular annual event, which also includes live music and dancing. Make dinner reservations early for patio dining with a view of the action, then take an early evening stroll down Hartz Avenue to check out the rides. Hartz Avenue, Danville, 4–9 p.m., free, (800) 823-9116, danvillehotsummernightscarshow.com.

July 21: Chevron Family Theatre Festival
Art comes to life when more than two dozen theater, music, and dance performances fill the Lesher Center, including Emmy-nominated puppeteer Leslie Carrara (Sesame Street). More activities, from face painting to balloon art, take place outside. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., some free, some $5, (925) 943-7469, lesherartscenter.org.

July 21: Blues & Brews Festival
Spend a day beer tasting, nomnoming on delicious food, and enjoying free music. Among the 14 breweries participating are East Bay faves Ale Industries and Black Diamond. And, don’t forget to purchase a raffle ticket: The prize is a guitar. Pleasant Hill Park, 147 Gregory Ln., Pleasant Hill, 12–6 p.m., $30–$40, (925) 682-0896, pleasanthill.ca.gov.

July 21: Youth Poetry Slam
Following five days of competition, the country’s best young poets face-off in the grand slam finals of the 15th Annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam. Will the Bay Area team (including students from Berkeley, Oakland, and Richmond) be in the mix? Fox Theatre, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 7 p.m., $6–$20, bravenewvoices.org.

Oklahoma / photo by Robert SholtyJuly 21–22: Art Under the Oaks
More than 50 artists from the Livermore Art Association offer demonstrations and sell their creations at this annual gathering under Alden Lane’s majestic oaks. In addition to art, enjoy wine and fruit tasting, live music, and a tropical plant and art exhibit. Alden Lane Nursery, 981 Alden Ln., Livermore, 11 a.m.–4 p.m., free, (925) 447-0280, aldenlane.com.

July 21–22: Renegade Craft Fair
The best indie crafters gather in San Francisco to offer a warehouse full of unique gifts and goods for sale. Among the 250 artisans are East Bay faves 1.by.liz (featured in Diablo's May 2011 issue), Lemonade Handmade (October 2010), Rae Dunn Clay (October 2010), and Tangleweeds (May 2011). Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, San Francisco, 11 a.m.–7 p.m., free admission, renegadecraft.com/sanfrancisco-info.

July 21–August 5: Oklahoma!
Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre presents this classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical (it was their first collaboration!) about rivalry between farmers and cowboys in the early 1900s. Trust me, you won’t be able to get these songs out of your head! Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore, times vary, $27–$37, (925) 373-6800, tickets: mylvpac.com, more info: trivalleyrep.org.

For even more events happening this week, or to submit an event for consideration, visit Diablo’s Community Calendar. Follow Diablo on Twitter or Facebook (links below), and you'll be notified as soon as Top Tickets posts each Wednesday morning.