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OCPAC Reprises Modern Musicals


"Rent" is due again at the Orange County Performing Arts Center--along with six other shows in a 2000-01 season of touring Broadway productions that skews toward the contemporary over traditional favorites.

A 1996 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, "Rent" previously alighted at the center in 1998 for a highly successful run. The rock-inflected musical about youthful New York City bohemians returns for eight performances Dec. 26-31--a holiday-season run that center President Jerry E. Mandel said should cater to students free during winter break.

Most of the other productions also hail from the recent Broadway past--though all are based on famous books, movies or theatrical scenes that go back a few decades or more.

The Broadway adaptation of "Saturday Night Fever" opened last October and features disco hits by the Bee Gees that helped the 1977 John Travolta film become a phenomenon. Frank Wildhorn's "The Scarlet Pimpernel" premiered in 1997, taking its subject matter from a novel written in the early 1900s about a swashbuckling romantic hero in 18th century France. "Ragtime" is the 1997 musical adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's 1975 novel about racial and social divides in America at the turn of the last century. "Fosse" the 1999 Tony winner for best musical, is a revue of song-and-dance numbers originally directed and choreographed for stage and screen by Bob Fosse between 1953 and 1986.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday May 4, 2000 Orange County Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Metro Desk 2 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Musicals--A number of musicals, including "Annie," "Les Miserables," "Man of La Mancha," "Starlight Express" and "The King and I," have had return engagements at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. An April 26 story incorrectly reported that only "Cats" had been repeated.

Audiences who delight in old Broadway standards and time-tested songs can look to "Annie Get Your Gun," the 1946-vintage Irving Berlin opus based on the life of Annie Oakley. Marilu Henner will star in the touring version; Bernadette Peters is featured in the current Broadway production that won a 1999 Tony for best musical revival.

The other familiar oldie in the coming season is Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella," first seen in a television production with Julie Andrews in 1957.

The Broadway season's announcement comes with the current one less than half over: "The Civil War," "Beauty and the Beast," "Cabaret" and "Titanic" are scheduled to open June 6, July 11, Aug. 8 and Aug. 22, respectively for one- or two-week runs.

Until this year, the 14-year-old OCPAC had not repeated a musical, other than "Cats," which first played the center in 1988 and returned four more times in nonsubscription shows over the ensuing 10 years.

"The Sound of Music," first presented in 1994 with Marie Osmond as Maria, drew well last month in a production starring Richard Chamberlain, Mandel said. "Cabaret," seen at OCPAC in 1987 with Joel Grey, has been radically recast in its current Broadway revival by "American Beauty" director Sam Mendes, giving a darker, more decadent emphasis to a show-biz story set in Berlin against the backdrop of Hitler's rise to power.

"It's been the hottest thing on Broadway. It's not the same show," as the familiar version, Mandel said.

As for "Rent"--which will give OCPAC three repeat shows among the eight to be staged during the calendar year 2000--Mandel is confident its loyal fans will turn out again for essentially the same production that played Costa Mesa in 1998.

"We had two weeks of a virtual sellout" two years ago, Mandel said. "People who like it will see it many times."

Six of the seven shows next season will be sold on a subscription basis; "Rent" is not on the subscription list, but subscribers will get priority in ordering tickets.

The 13,200 current series subscribers will be sent renewal notices this week; others can order subscriptions starting June 11. Mandel wants to increase subscriptions to more than 14,000, while aiming to maintain attendance at or above recent levels of 72% or 73%. Individual tickets go on sale four to six weeks before each show opens. No cast announcements have been made, except for Henner's starring role in "Annie Get Your Gun."

Season-ticket prices range from $145 to $353 for the six-show subscription series, an average per-show price of $24.17 to $58.83. The lowest-priced subscription tickets are up $2.88 per show over the current season, an increase of 13.5%. The highest-priced tickets are up $1.83 per show, an increase of 3.2%. Tickets for "Rent" run $22 to $53.50.

The 2000-01 Broadway schedule:

"Ragtime," Sept. 12-24. Based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, with book by Terrence McNally and score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty.

"Annie Get Your Gun," Nov. 21-26. With songs by Berlin, book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields.

"Rent," Dec. 26-31. Musical by Jonathan Larson, based on the opera "La Boheme."

"The Scarlet Pimpernel," Jan. 2-7. Based on a 1905 novel by Baroness Orczy. Music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics and book by Nan Knighton.

"Fosse," April 18-29, 2001. A revue of musical and dance numbers from the oeuvre of director/choreographer Bob Fosse.

"Cinderella," June 5-10, 2001. Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.

"Saturday Night Fever," June 26-July 8, 2001. Information: (714) 556-2787.

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