New 1,200 seat theater to open
Pechanga expands for theater productions
March 13, 2002
CHARLES HAND - The Californian
Performances at the Pechanga Entertainment Center are about to include a new direction. In addition to concerts, comedy and boxing, theater productions wil begin later this year.
The new 1,200-seat theater will host four productions in its inaugural season ---- "Grease," "Amadeus," "Moulin Rouge" and Barry Manilow's "Copacabana." They will be staged by the same company that brings national tours of well-known works to the California Theater in San Bernardino, Theatrical Art International.
Zeke Garza, spokesman for the Theatrical Art, said he believes the growth of the Southwest County has laid the foundations for a subscriber base. There are Southwest County subscribers to the company's San Bernardino productions, he said.
"These productions are the same quality as those in New York, Los Angeles and other major markets," Garza said.
The Pechanga band is expanding its complex with construction of the state-of-the-art theater, a Las Vegas-style hotel and expansion of the casino.
"Grease" will launch the series Oct. 18-20. As with the other productions, it will be full-length, not truncated like some dinner theater presentations.
"Amadeus" will be staged Nov. 15-17. The play speculates about the relationship between Mozart and Solieri. Though its historical accuracy has been called into question, the play has won both Academy and Tony awards. It postulates that Solieri drove Mozart to an early grave by dunning the ill composer for a requiem.
"Copacabana," which will be staged March 28-29 2003, is based on Manilow's disco hit. In the stage version, a young composer is transported back to the 1940s when "music and passion were always the fashion" at the world famous nightclub. The Lola of the song is not only wooed by the infamous Rico, but convinced to move to the Tropicana in Havana, setting off a series of events leading to murder.
"Moulin Rouge" will play June 27-29. Though founded on the luster of the famous Paris nightclub, it combines contemporary music and skits with period costumes and dances, including the fabled Can-Can and sensuous Tango.
Garza said that if the debut year at Pechanga goes well, the playbill will probably be expanded the following season.
At San Bernardino, Theatrical Art International produces several more shows a year. They are a mix of national tours of such hits as "Cats" and "Chicago" and celebrity-driven original works. In the five years since Garza's group has been producing the California Theater programs, subscriptions have grown from 3,000 people to 10,000 people. At the time Theatrical Art International took over the California Theater, it was bankrupt and had shut down its production schedule.
Subscription prices for the Pechanga series range from $99 to $175, which Garza said is about a 40 percent break on single-ticket prices, which will range from $38.50 to $65. Subscription prices are $99 mezzanine rear, $125 mezzanine, $1650 mezzanine front, $160 orchestra and $175 for three rows of the orchestra section.
There will be five performances of each production, including Saturday and Sunday matinees. Curtain times for Friday productions will be 8 p.m. On Saturday, they will be 2 and 8 p.m. On Sunday, they will be 2 and 7 p.m.