Seeing Stars: Live on Stage


600 Town Center Drive (at South Coast Plaza),
Costa Mesa, CA. / (714) 556-2122


This massive legitimate theatre is to Orange County what the Shubert Theater or the Music Center is to Los Angeles: the home to major Broadway musicals such at "Phantom of the Opera," "Cats," "Showboat" and "Les Miserables," as well as concerts, ballet, the symphony, and grand opera. Broadway musicals tend to come to this theatre after they have already played Los Angeles. "Chicago," for instance, came to the Performing Arts Center immediately following its run at the Ahmanson. But that can be a good thing - it gives theatre-goers who missed the initial L.A. run a second chance to catch the show.

Located next to the megacenter South Coast Plaza, the Orange County Performing Arts Center is housed in an impressive building made of polished red granite; its dynamic five-story exterior features a massive proscenium arch, framing a dynamic sculpture entitled "Firebird," with wings made up of a bold sweep of interweaving gold, silver and red metallic strands. Just northwest of the theater is a maze of manicured hedges and sculptures by Moore.

Inside, the theater's four terraced levels of plush red seats can accommodate over 3,000 music lovers, rivaling the grand Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in both size and elegance.

As befits conservative Orange County, OCPAC was the first performance hall in the U.S built and operated entirely by private support. Since its opening in 1986, the stage has hosted such stars as Bob Hope, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Johnny Cash, Jay Leno, Joel Grey, Wynton Marsalis, Tony Bennett, Rita Moreno and Henry Mancini.

The Center's 2000-2001 Broadway season includes Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," "Annie Get Your Gun," "Cabaret" "Titanic," "Rent," "The Scarlet Pimpernel," "Fosse" and "Saturday Night Fever."

Other 2000 events include performaces by
Harry Belafonte, Lou Rawls, Peter, Paul & Mary and magician David Copperfield.

Tickets to such events vary in price, of course, from $70 down to around $17.


But there is a way to sneak an intimate peek at the theater's posh interior without paying a penny. Every Wednesday and Saturday, they conduct free guided tours of the interior of both the original Segerstrom Hall and the grand new Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Just show up at 10:00 a.m., and you will be admitted by a docent who will show you the inner workings of the giant theaters (including the stars' dressing rooms, the rehearsal halls, and the performer's lounge). There are separate tours for each hall.

(Also see the separate page about theatrical premieres.)

Parking: There is a huge parking structure on the north side of the Center, but it costs $7 during events and even more during the daytime hours. If you don't mind a short stroll, your best bet for the tour is probably the free parking lots nearby at the adjacent South Coast Plaza mall, just west of Bristol. (Valet parking is not available to the general public.)

Hours: Free Guided tours (mornings only):

    Wednesday & Saturday at 10:00 AM.

    For more tour info, call (714) 556.2122 ext. 4246.

(Tours are not held on certain days due to conflicting events. Be sure to phone first for a recording that will list the days when the tours will not be held.)

Getting there: The Center is located in the northeast corner of South Coast Plaza's Town Center (in Costa Mesa), just east of the intersection of Town Center Drive and Park Center Drive, east of Bristol. (See directions to South Coast Plaza mall.)


[For more information, and a complete schedule of performances,
you can access the Center's official website at: http://www.ocpac.org.]



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Copyright  2014-Gary Wayne
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