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Storming onto the theater scene

November 17, 2002|ANN CONWAY | Times Staff Writer

"They say if it rains at a theater opening, it's good luck -- but I think we've overdone it," said Julianne Argyros as she stood in the spotlight at the new South Coast Repertory stage named in her honor. With that, Argyros -- wife of U.S. Ambassador to Spain George Argyros -- yanked a glittering gold cord and watched the scarlet-hued curtains part on the world premiere of New York playwright Richard Greenberg's "The Violet Hour."

Minutes before, about 200 theater buffs dodged a pelting rain as they flew across a parkway from the Westin South Coast Plaza Hotel in Costa Mesa. There, they had dined on roast veal and purple potatoes (a culinary nod to "The Violet Hour" -- "that New York hour when the evening is about to reward you for the day," says one of the play's characters) in celebration of the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage. "We are delighted to be here in Orange County -- and what a great county we have," said George Argyros, who, with his wife, has donated upward of $5 million to South Coast Rep. Praising the company at the Nov. 8 gala, Ben Cameron, executive director of Theatre Communications Group, which supports regional theaters across the country, called it "the crown jewel of the California theater scene."

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