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Eclectic Orange fest trims schedule

May 30, 2003|Mike Boehm | Times Staff Writer

Facing a sour economy, the Eclectic Orange Festival's organizer, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, is seeking safety in numbers for its fall 2003 event. For the first time, it's yielding the bulk of festival programming to other Orange County and Long Beach presenters.

Most of the performances will be staged by Orange County's two major regional theaters, South Coast Repertory and the Laguna Playhouse. They will present their plays under the festival's umbrella for the first time, but those are regular, already announced productions.

Without them, the fifth Eclectic Orange, Oct. 3 to Nov. 16, would be the smallest ever, with 14 productions encompassing 23 performances, compared to 17 productions and 25 performances in its first year, 1999.

The festival earns its name by mixing disciplines, genres, styles and world cultures. Among the highlights will be the Pacific Chorale/Pacific Symphony West Coast premiere of "On the Transmigration of Souls," John Adams' Pultizer Prize-winning oratorio for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, and the previously announced Southern California premiere of "Sun Rings," the Kronos Quartet's performance of a Terry Riley work inspired by outer-space sound waves.

"Every organization has had to trim its sails. We're certainly no different," said Dean Corey, executive director of the Philharmonic Society and the festival. Corey said the Philharmonic Society will spend about $700,000 to stage its share of Eclectic Orange: five productions encompassing six performances. That's down from $3.2 million last year -- two-thirds of which went toward "Triptyk," a dance and equestrian piece by Theatre Zingaro, which resulted in a financial drubbing.

Corey said that giving other presenters more of a say in the planning and presenting has been a goal from the beginning.

"We've moved from [other] groups being sort of added on to now being an integral part of the process. The whole idea is to have a synergy of creative ideas, and this coming festival is the ideal we've been striving for."

Festival offerings include Opera Pacific's "Madame Butterfly," the world premiere of Diavolo Dance Theatre's "Dream- Catcher" at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, and Long Beach Symphony's performance of Chinese American composer Tan Dun's "Concerto for Water Percussion."

South Coast and Laguna Playhouse leaders said that though the festival wasn't a deciding factor in choosing their seasons, they kept it in mind.

South Coast is staging Ted Talley's "Terra Nova," about a doomed polar expedition, and Nilo Cruz's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Anna in the Tropics." Laguna Playhouse's festival tie-ins are "The Romance of Magno Rubio," about Filipinos in Depression-era California, and a youth theater piece.

Information: www.Eclectic Orange.org or (949) 553-2422.

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