Work to Start on Palm Desert Theater : $13-Million Performing Arts Project to Rise on College Campus

Construction is scheduled to begin this month on the McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts in Palm Desert.

The 65,000-square-foot project is being built on the College of the Desert campus at Fred Waring Drive and Monterey Avenue, as part of the three-phase, master-planned Bob Hope Cultural Center. Later phases will include a Music and Drama School and Audio-Visual Arts School.

The theater is being developed by the trustees of the Friends of the Cultural Center in Palm Desert.

More than $9 million has been raised toward the $13 million in construction costs and $5 million operating-endowment fund by Friends of the Cultural Center, which includes former President Gerald Ford, Mrs. Bob Hope, and developer Ernest W. Hahn. Michael Grossman, formerly director of the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre at the Los Angeles Music Center will be executive director of the McCallum Theatre, which is expected to be completed next January.

Designed by the Huntington Beach architectural firm of Anthony & Langford, AIA, the theater will be contemporary in style of white, split-faced block, complementing other campus buildings. A sweeping, circular drive will lead to a porte cochere, where there will be a reflecting pool and fountain and a three-level, glass-front lobby. Inside, stairs and an elevator will rise to two upper lobbies overlooking the lower one and the mountains beyond. Stephan Chase of Rancho Mirage is the interior designer.

The theater will be multipurpose with a range of capabilities including concerts, opera, symphonies, dance, drama, film and television production. Tony Anthony, principal architect, said, "The orchestra pit can be large enough to accommodate a complete philharmonic orchestra or it can be reduced to a more conventional show size."

Seating was designed with the original Shakespearean court theaters in mind. The audience will be wrapped around three sides of the proscenium, with every seat of the 1,220-member audience within 75 feet of the stage.

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