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Orange County Family

Backstage Passes

The Irvine Barclay throws open the doors for a peek-season party that's anything but exclusive.


Good news, open-house-o-philes. There's one going Sunday in Irvine that promises to be a lot more entertaining and enriching than the usual game of dodge-the-Realtor.

It's the Irvine Barclay Theatre's Season Premiere Party. Visitors will be encouraged to snoop backstage to their hearts' content or kick back in one of Cheng Hall's 756 seats while taking in any of several performances and demonstrations by Ballet Pacifica, the Irvine Chinese Chorus or classical Indian dancer-choreographer Ramya Harishankar.

Just for kids, there will be storytelling sessions in the theater's green room, a chalk-art area out back and hands-on musical activities. Between stops, visitors can listen to the Pandemonium steel-drum band, which will play on the theater's front plaza.

All activities and performances are free. Refreshments will be sold by IBT's Encore Circle as a benefit for the theater's education programs.

The event is the first of its kind at the Barclay since the theater opened in 1990.

"This gives people an opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes and to showcase some of our local groups who perform here," said Karen Drews, theater director of communications and program development.

It's also a way to promote the 1997-98 season. Or seasons. IBT essentially hosts three concurrently: touring or other large shows or concerts under the IBT's own banner; performances by UCI's school of arts; and concerts performed or presented by such local groups as Ballet Pacifica, the St. Joseph Ballet and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. Brochures, as well as information on the season's artists, will be available at the event.

Ballet Pacifica will put on a working rehearsal of David Allan's "Reunions," a contemporary-dance piece commissioned, and given its world premiere in 1992, by the New York City Ballet. Ballet Pacific will present the piece in its season-opening concerts at IBT on Oct. 24 and 25. A company representative will offer brief commentary and answer questions during rehearsal breaks.

Harishankar will present samples of her works and discuss classical Indian dance, and members of the 50-voice Irvine Chinese Chorus will present choral music from China as well as from the West.


The Philharmonic Society's Music Mobile will offer children a hands-on introduction to the instruments of an orchestra. The group also will give away compact discs of artists who will appear in its upcoming IBT season.

Artists Bob Orso and Jennifer Dana will demonstrate chalk artistry and encourage children who want to try their hands at it. Professional storyteller Nancy McQuillan of the South Coast Storytellers Guild will spin audience-participation yarns throughout the afternoon.

Although thousands of area schoolchildren attend performances throughout the year at the Barclay on field-trip programs, many more have never set foot inside the facility--or any performing arts venue. Still, Drews says she doesn't expect much hesitation from kids when the doors of the Barclay are thrown open.

"The only limits at this thing are the kids' imaginations," she said. "And we all know they have quite a bit of that."


* Season Premiere Party is Sunday at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive. Noon-4 p.m. Free. (714) 854-4646.

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