IRVINE — In a major programming coup, UC Irvine's Arts and Lectures division has booked the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre Company for the inaugural season of the Irvine Theatre, which is expected to open in October.
The New York City-based troupe has never appeared in Orange County. "We've wanted to get them for a long time," said Betty Tessman, the Arts and Lectures manager who scored the coup. "But until this theater came along, we've never had the proper place to put them."
The Ailey troupe will give a single performance of an as-yet-undetermined ballet work at the $17.6-million facility in April, 1991.
The 750-seat theater, under construction on the UCI campus, is a joint venture of the city of Irvine, the university and the Irvine Theatre Operating Co. It will provide a three-way combination of community offerings, university programs and operating-company presentations.
Other notable dance attractions destined for the theater under the sponsorship of UCI Arts and Lectures will be the Royal New Zealand Ballet on its first U.S. tour and the Los Angeles-based Bella Lewitsky Dance Company, which will perform a work commissioned to honor UCI's 25th anniversary. Both troupes are to appear in November.
Tessman said that Arts and Lectures anticipates a 1990-91 budget of about $220,000 for bringing performance events to several venues on the UCI campus. The budget will be financed by ticket sales, projected at $160,000, she said, in addition to arts grants of $25,000 and a UCI subsidy of $35,000.
She said that if the Irvine Theatre opens on time--the second week of October is being considered--the Arts and Lectures division also may be able to include the Colorado-based Indian Dance Theatre among its presentations that month.
Irvine Theatre general manager Douglas C. Rankin said he is exploring Oct. 12 and 13 as possible dates for the theater's debut weekend, provided it doesn't conflict with other premieres in the area.
"We are looking at October and November as the theater's official opening," he added. "Both of those months will be a long gala in which we will attempt to showcase as many of the user organizations as possible--if not with full productions, then with showcase performances. That will include everything from the community companies to the professionals."
Rankin said he has just begun to pencil in the Irvine Theatre schedule, and so far has offered actual performance dates to only two organizations: UCI Arts and Lectures (see below) and the Orange County Philharmonic Society, which announced its plans for the theater on Wednesday.
He said the theater-operating company is itself negotiating to present several notable dance and theater troupes. Although contracts have yet to be signed, he said, several dates are being held open.
UCI Arts and Lectures will present:
Indian Dance Theatre (Oct. 19, tentative); Bella Lewitsky Dance Co. (Nov. 1 through 3); Opera a la Carte doing Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado" (Nov. 10); Royal New Zealand Ballet doing "Coppelia" (Nov. 16).
Jack Daniels' Silver Cornette Band (Dec. 1); Seattle Mime Theatre Co.'s "Pinocchio" and five adult vignettes (Jan. 12); Western Opera Theatre production of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" with six singers from the San Francisco Opera and a two-piano orchestration (Jan. 30).
"Gershwin by Request," featuring pianist Leon Bates and two singers (Feb. 20); "Broadway Celebration," featuring four vocalists singing show tunes (April 5); Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre Company (April 25), and the San Francisco Mime Troupe doing "Seeing Double," an original musical about Nicaragua (May 3).
Tentatively scheduled presentations of the Irvine Theatre are:
National Theatre of the Deaf (Oct. 10); Maria Benitez Spanish Dance Company (Nov. 24-25); Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis doing "Pippi Longstocking" (Jan. 22), and Hubbard Street Dance Company (Jan. 24 through 26).