More info on Santa Rosa’s newest entertainment venue

Recent news about the relocation of Santa Rosa’s Left Edge Theatre from the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts to something called “The California” led many people to ask “What is ‘The California’?”

Well, The California is a new arts and entertainment venue that is scheduled to open its doors at 528 7th Street in Santa Rosa in September 2022. The location formerly housed several nightclubs and restaurants.

The flexible 199-seat space with a licensed bar and cabaret-style seating plans to offer a wide range of cultural activities, including live music, comedy, theatre, dance, lectures, classes and more. Beginning in September with productions by resident theater company Left Edge Theatre and assorted Monday night variety acts, the new company expects to offer a full program of entertainment by early 2023.

The name of the new venue, The California, is a deliberate nod to Santa Rosa’s original California Theatre, which offered popular vaudeville shows and movies for more than 50 years until it was demolished in 1977. Left Edge Theatre will kick off the opening of The California in September with the first show of its 2022-23 season, the award-winning musical FUN HOME. Left Edge’s youth theater, Young Actors Studio, will also be a resident company at the new space.

Original California Theatre ad from 1928

The California is the brainchild of Argo Thompson, current CEO and founding artistic director of Left Edge Theatre. A 4th generation Santa Rosan, Thompson hopes to contribute to the vitality and livability of the city’s downtown by offering entertainment that will appeal to Santa Rosa’s many communities. He has already started forming partnerships with downtown restaurants and services with the intention of being able to offer food to The California patrons next year.

“During the pandemic, it became clear to me that once the restrictions eased, people would need gathering places to come together for community and entertainment,” said Thompson. “I feel strongly that as a performing arts company, we are part of the solution for creating a vibrant and exciting downtown that is accessible to everyone. We are currently reaching out to Santa Rosa residents to learn what kinds of events people would like to see at The California, and our plans for the new space include multiple opportunities for local artists, musicians and performers, as well as events rentals and pop-up kitchens. The California will be a welcoming place where people can find good food, good drinks, good entertainment and good company, every day of the week.”

To sign up for more information about The California, including its membership packages and future programs, or to take their entertainment survey, visit their website at or contact Argo Thompson at

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