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COSTA MESA CENTER SETS 4 MUSICALS

Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Performing Arts Center is bringing four Broadway musicals to its stage during its 1986-1987 season, including a new road version of “Singin’ in the Rain,” it was announced Tuesday.

PACE Theatrical, a leading producer of touring musicals, also is bringing Orange County a revival of “Stop the World--I Want to Get Off,” starring Anthony Newley, who is directing this production and wrote the book and the music of the 1962 hit. Also scheduled is “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” a Tony Award winner in 1985, and a revival of the 1966 hit “Cabaret,” starring Joel Grey, who was in the original production.

“This is terribly important to us,” Thomas R. Kendrick, the center’s executive director, said of the PACE agreement. “We were concerned because they (PACE) had limited amount of product, we had restricted amounts of dates available . . . and it was uncertain that PACE would be able to adjust its touring pattern for us.”

Kendrick and PACE officials have declined to discuss the financial terms of their agreement.

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Tickets for the PACE musicals will range from $16 to $35 on weekdays and slightly more on weekends, Kendrick said.

PACE Theatrical is a division of PACE Management, a Houston firm whose productions have ranged from rock concerts to motocross races. In recent years, PACE has advanced aggressively on the market for touring musicals. The center marks the organization’s first beachhead in Southern California.

“We’ve been interested in the Orange County project for some time, and we’re quite impressed,” said Miles Wilkin, president of PACE Theatrical.

“Singin’ in the Rain,” which also is scheduled to come to the Pantages in Los Angeles in December, suffered at the hands of New York critics in 1985. Before being reworked, it became the subject of a New York magazine cover story titled “The $5 Million Turkey That Refused To Die.” The production will play in Costa Mesa Dec. 30-Jan. 4. “Stop the World” is scheduled for Feb. 3-8. “Big River” and “Cabaret” will follow on yet-undetermined dates in the spring.

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Surveys indicate that musicals are the most popular type of offering for multipurpose arts centers like the center, Kendrick said. A hit musical can pay for itself without the kind of corporate and individual donations needed for other types of performances, such as opera or ballet, he added.

“Candide” and “West Side Story,” two other musicals unaffiliated with PACE are also scheduled to play the center in the coming season.

The $70.7 million, 3,000-seat center in Costa Mesa is set to open Sept. 29 with a performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.


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