Pepperdine University isn’t just Malibu’s beloved institute for higher education. It’s also a vibrant cultural crossroads, providing a West LA hub for exhibitions, artist and author talks, intimate concerts, and inspiring performances galore.

Nestled in a lawn-strewn plateau of the Santa Monica Mountains, the picturesque campus abounds with unique events year-round, all of them located in close proximity to Malibu Beach Inn. For visitors looking to experience the city’s scholarly epicenter of creativity, here’s a look at its upcoming roster of special events scheduled for early 2020.

Rodin and Women: Muses, Sirens, Lovers Exhibit

January 19th March 29th

Rodin exhibition at Pepperdine

Photo: Auguste Rodin, Three Faunesses, modeled before 1896; Musée Rodin cast, cast number unknown, 1959, bronze; Georges Rudier Foundry, lent by the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation.

In addition to its ongoing commitment to purveying California-based art, Pepperdine’s Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art is also known to regularly exhibit impressive works from around the world. The gallery’s current exhibition displays 40 pieces by the late French sculptor Auguste Rodin, who is considered the greatest artist of his craft since the likes of Michelangelo.

Spread throughout the museum’s interconnected series of showrooms, each of the bronze sculptures explores the shifting roles of women in Western society, as well as in Rodin’s own life and legacy. Referred to by museum staff as “the return of Rodin to Pepperdine” (Weisman previously featured 30 of the sculptor’s pieces in its 2001 exhibit, Rodin’s Obsession: The Gates of Hell), this themed collection also includes some of his most famous contributions to the world of art, namely The Kiss, Eve, and Venus.

Dance in Flight

February 13th 15th, 8pm

Dance in Flight at Pepperdine

Photo: Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts, Pepperdine University, 2020

A perennial Pepperdine tradition for over 25 years, Dance in Flight returns to Smothers Theatre on Valentine’s Day weekend for an impressive showcase of the art of movement. Pairing physical expression and teamwork, this celebrated wintertime event draws a diverse emergence of choreographers and student dancers for a series of performances threaded together with a cohesive narrative (past years have covered genres like jazz, hip hop, tap, ballet, modern, theatrical, and ballroom dancing).

While this year’s theme has yet to be announced, audiences can expect to be captivated by the onstage spectacle as the region’s talented dance companies display their most creative choreographed routines in seamless unison. Because this event is an almost-guaranteed sell-out, we strongly recommend securing tickets in advance.


March 18th 20th, 7:30pm and March 21st, 2pm

Songfest at Pepperdine

Photo: Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts, Pepperdine University, 2020

This annual musical variety show has been a treasured Pepperdine tradition almost dating back to the university’s move to Malibu in 1972. Each March, hundreds of students converge on Smothers Theatre to compete in series of “highly creative and ridiculously enthusiastic” stage shows that focus on original storytelling through spirited song and dance.

Offering Broadway-style performances in the heart of Malibu, each of Songfest’s shows features high production value with a live pit orchestra, meticulous lighting techniques, and a large supporting technical crew. But part of what makes the experience so unique is that each competing group must perform their own original take on the year’s overarching theme, letting audiences of all ages reap the highly entertaining results.

The Scared Scriptless Tour

March 27th, 7pm and 9:30pm

Scared Scriptless comedians

Fans of improv comedy won’t want to miss this stop on the Scared Scriptless tour, featuring the witty antics of Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood (both of Whose Line Is It Anyway? fame). Using suggestions and participation from their live audience, the dynamic duo will make up original songs, skits, and more to provide a rollicking evening of interactive fun for all who attend.

Senior Art Thesis Exhibition

April 16th May 2nd  

Frederick Weisman Museum

Photo: Swper via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 

For about two weeks at the end of each year’s spring semester, the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art displays work from several upcoming graduates of Seaver College’s Studio Art degree program. Open to students and the larger public alike, this popular exhibit features an array of thought-provoking pieces representing emerging artists and their many mediums of choice, including painting, video, sculpture, and installations.

The Cherry Orchard Play

April 15th – 18th, 7:30pm

The Cherry Orchard at Pepperdine

Photo: Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts, Pepperdine University, 2020

In an adaptation of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, the Pepperdine Theatre Department will present The Cherry Orchard in the middle of April. Performing its own rendition of what is considered Chekhov’s final masterpiece, the university’s theatre program will set the scene in 20th-century Russia, where a newly implemented economic and social order has each character in the Ranevskaya clan scrambling to redefine themselves and their base values.

In the play, which is centered around the self-made millionaire Lopakhin and his plan to salvage the prized family property, the character Lyubov grapples with the decision of choosing her estate over her own foundational delusions.

Marc Cohn

April 22nd, 8pm

Marc Cohn with guitar

Photo: Thoughtmatters via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY

In April, Smothers Theatre is slated to welcome the soulful singer-songwriter Marc Cohn for an intimate performance within the confines of its red-curtained auditorium. A UCLA graduate who got his start performing in LA-area coffeeshops, the celebrated folk-rock artist is most widely known for his 1992 Grammy Award-winning song, “Walking in Memphis.”

28 years after his emergence onto the music scene, Cohn remains a prolific and talented storyteller, drawing from experiences in his own life to create instant classics in music. Along with the aforementioned “Walking in Memphis,” concert guests can expect acoustic versions of Cohn’s most notable tracks, such as “Silver Thunderbird,” “True Companion,” and “Listening Booth: 1970,” which recounts Cohn’s creative resurgence after a close brush with death in 2005.

Featured Photo: Wolffystyle via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY