New venue, same name -- almost


Could one pitfall of expansion at the Orange County Performing Arts Center be scenes of pre-curtain zigzags as eventgoers scurry to find the right venue?

Come September 2006, the new Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall is scheduled to open, complementing the existing auditorium, Segerstrom Hall, which is right across the street. Both are named in honor of shopping mall magnate Henry T. Segerstrom and his family, who over the years have contributed 12 acres and more than $60 million to building the Costa Mesa center.

For the sake of user-friendliness, might some more differentiated nomenclature be in order?


Queried on the matter before a recent ceremony announcing opening-month programming at RHSCH and its older sister hall, Henry Segerstrom said he did not foresee substituting any convenient shorthand.

“I don’t think so. We’re referring to it as the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.” But couldn’t that be confusing in tandem with Segerstrom Hall? “We all learn quickly,” Segerstrom said.

Jerry E. Mandel, the center’s president, offered one pithy key word on the subject: “signage.”

Arriving at the center, he said, audience members will be greeted by signs specifying the event -- “opera,” “ballet” or “Broadway” most likely for Segerstrom Hall, and “symphony” on most nights at Segerstrom Concert Hall. If they follow the signs, they’ll end up in the appropriate parking garage.

At least that’s the plan.

“We’ve thought about it a lot, and it’s going to work,” Mandel said.

But never underestimate the power of the people to get lost. Over the last month, many wanderers looking for OCPAC’s presentation of “The Lion King” have ended up across the street on the doorstep of South Coast Repertory -- where the main stage is officially the Segerstrom Stage -- prompting the posting of signs in the box office window directing them to Simba and friends.