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Center Hopes to Begin Designing One or Two More Theaters by 1991

Times Staff Writer

Henry T. Segerstrom, chairman of the Orange County Performing Arts Center, said Wednesday that the Center is committed to beginning design of at least one and possibly two additional theaters at the Center by 1991, depending upon a market study expected by spring.

The Times earlier had reported incorrectly that Center officials were backing off from plans for a second theater.

“We always thought, and we committed to, a multiple hall concept,” Segerstrom said in an interview Wednesday at his Costa Mesa office.

“Now, ‘multiple’ could be two or it could be three, and we are re-examining that need and trying to determine the sequencing of providing an additional facility or facilities,” he said. “We are unequivocally committed to additional performing arts capacity in the complex.”

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The size for the new theater or theaters ranges from 800 to 2,800 seats, Segerstrom said.

Conceptions for the Center complex have evolved over the years, from simultaneous construction of two halls to early construction of a 1,000-seat “Theater II.”

“There was an assumption made, under different management, that a certain size theater would complement Segerstrom Hall. The extraordinary success of the facility we have now, and the unanticipated speed with which Segerstrom Hall has been utilized has been a surprise to everybody,” he said.

“We have elected not to be bound by assumptions that were made 5 years ago, before Segerstrom Hall opened,” Segerstrom said.

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The Center’s board, meeting last weekend at its annual retreat, reviewed the preliminary results of the market study now being done by the firm of Harrison Price of Los Angeles. The board decided that it will try within 2 years to “complete all market, fund-raising and feasibility studies--and be in design” for the planned facilities.

Segerstrom said it was “highly improbable and highly unlikely” that the market study would not recommend at least one additional theater.

“We all are confident that the study will recommend that we proceed with additional theater capacity,” he said.

Segerstrom said that by 1991, plans for at least one new theater should be in the hands of the architects, although it is unlikely that any new facility will be completed before 1994.

In looking at size, configuration and sequence of constructing any new halls, “we’ll be looking at primarily the needs of our presenters (and) our needs as a presenter,” Segerstrom said.

Presenting groups, which pay for use of the Center, included the Pacific Symphony, the Orange County Philharmonic Society, Opera Pacific, the Pacific Chorale and the Orange County Master Chorale.

“Some presenter groups are finding it necessary to consolidate and even in some cases slightly retrench,” Segerstrom said.

On the other hand, he said, there might be a need for expanded use by the Philharmonic Society and “an Orange County resident symphony.”

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Among other possibilities under consideration for use in the expanded Center facility, Segerstrom said, are more and longer runs of Broadway musicals, more operas and the presentation by the Center of classical drama, as well as use of the facilities by South Coast Repertory Theatre.


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