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OCPAC helps with the name game

June 18, 2006|Mike Boehm

BETWEEN now and Sept. 15, leaders of the Orange County Performing Arts Center will attempt to take the "grrr" out of Segerstrom. That's the sound unwitting eventgoers may well utter if, through understandable confusion, they wind up at the wrong venue -- having failed to distinguish between Segerstrom Hall (the original building) and Segerstrom Concert Hall (the new one opening across the street).

Subtract a "Segerstrom" and you've got a sacrilege: Henry Segerstrom and family planted culture in Costa Mesa by donating the land for the center as well as for the neighboring South Coast Repertory and a proposed art museum. They've also given upward of $60 million to the center's two building campaigns.

Prominent signage may help. "The Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall" is cut into the new wing's limestone in big letters. By opening night, according to one of architect Cesar Pelli's associates, the indented characters will be filled with "jewel-like" stainless steel.

Still, having two Segerstrom Halls is asking for trouble. Among the possibilities being considered, Henry Segerstrom says, is to dub the older building the Segerstrom Opera House, reflecting one of its primary uses.

Luckily for those prone to confusion, Henry and Susan Samueli are the arts patrons who anted up $10 million for naming rights to the new wing's other venue, a 500-seat auditorium. And having lined up Placido Domingo with the Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale for opening night in Segerstrom Concert Hall, OCPAC has announced that rocker Sheryl Crow gets to crash the first chords in the Samueli Theater on Oct. 14.

But don't bother calling for tickets unless you're feeling generous. Crow's performance is a perk for folks who buy 10-seat tables at one of Segerstrom Concert Hall's three opening galas. Price: $125,000 per table. About 50 of the 300 remain.

Crow's coming also points to a possible synergy that could benefit pop music programming at the center.

Until now, the 3,000-seat Segerstrom Hall hasn't had many open nights for rockers. Economics, and the plethora of competing bigger venues in Southern California, makes it tough for OCPAC to compete for rock and pop talent, says chief programmer Judith O'Dea Morr. But many more dates will open with the expansion, and as operators of the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, the Samuelis (or their surrogates) keep a close eye on the touring pop and rock traffic. Morr says they helped secure Crow to inaugurate their theater.

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Mike Boehm

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