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Alternative Rep Delays Its Season

Theater: The Santa Ana company's new building, already 2 years' behind schedule, is still not ready.


Santa Ana's Alternative Repertory Theatre has postponed the opening of its first season in Artists Village by three months because of another delay in reconstruction of the building it will inhabit in the fledgling downtown art colony, ART officials said this week.

The 12-year-old theater company will open its season Jan. 16 in Cal State Fullerton's satellite in Artists Village for graduate art students, ART producer Gary Christensen said.

The CSUF Grand Central Art Center's opening already is two years' behind schedule, and the latest delay is the result of more unexpected snags in refurbishing the historic building it will occupy, said Cindy Nelson, the city's redevelopment chief. The City Council, which originally allocated $3.7 million for the project, recently approved another $279,000 to cover the extra work.

ART, which already trimmed its 1998-99 season by one play to accommodate previous delays, must now reduce the run by one week--to five--of each of the remaining four plays in its new 80-seat home, Christensen said. (ART's previous space held 55.) The problem shouldn't affect play quality, however, because rehearsals will not be spared, he added.

"The building will eventually open--it's just not happening as quickly as we'd like," said Christensen, who previously operated the troupe out of a storefront in a south Santa Ana industrial complex.

Meanwhile, the year-old Rude Guerrilla Productions, another alternative-theater troupe, plans to start its first season in Artists Village on Oct. 30 in the Empire Market Building, across Broadway from the CSUF center.

The troupe, which has performed in Huntington Beach and Garden Grove, is completing conversion of a 2,500-square-foot space into a 37-seat theater. Its three-play season will open with Samuel Beckett's "Happy Days," artistic director Dave Barton said.

In other Artists Village news, the 34-year-old Aman International Music and Dance Company is negotiating to lease a new home, also in the Empire Building, according to Gilbert Marerro of Voit Commercial real estate in Irvine.

Aman, whose nine core members now work out of Los Angeles, frequently performs in Orange County schools and recently highlighted the countywide Imagination Celebration. It would be the Artists Village's first resident dance company.

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