Friday, December 20, 2013

Santa Arrives Early for Celtic Woman

Celtic Woman has been named Billboard’s #1 World Artist of the Year for the fifth time and has received its eighth #1 World Album for Home for Christmas. Center audiences can catch a bit of the group’s elaborate new stage presentation in Segerstrom Hall on April 1 when The Emerald Tour arrives at the Center. The concert will combine longtime fan favorites with new musical gems (possibly emeralds?) written specifically for Celtic Woman under the direction of Emmy-nominated music producer David Downes. 

For anyone searching for that last minute holiday gift, a Center gift certificate might be just the thing to finish your gift list. For more information about the Celtic Woman engagement, click here.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

OC Weekly Picks Reggie Watts as One of 2013's Best

It was hip, it was happening and it was in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall during the Center’s Off Center Festival last January. OC Weekly picked Reggie Watts’ concert that helped to open the Center’s second Festival as one of Orange County’s top concerts of 2013. That’s just the kind of high voltage place the concert hall is – from Andre Watts to Reggie Watts – as the late acoustician Russell Johnson said of his design, the Renée and Henry should work for everything. 

Reggie Watts at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for the 2013 Off Center Festival.
Photos by Doug Gifford.

“As he stood underneath the glaring spotlight on the massive stage at the Segerstrom Hall for the Arts for the 2nd annual Off Center Festival, Reggie Watts was instantly struck by the size and grandeur of the nearly 2,000-seat capacity concert hall, one befitting of its illustrious founder...Bob Seger. Well, that's how Watt's described it anyway after walking onstage to a fiery applause from a decent crowd of giggly twentysomethings. Many of them, like us, had been smiling as they walked up to one of OC's classiest venues to see a man who's coined such trademark songs as "Fuck Shit Stack" and "What About Blowjobs." (Nate Jackson – OC Weekly)

The 2014 Off Center Festival Opens on January 23. Click here for more information.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Everyone's Cheering for Them, Orange County!

Desi Oakley and Caroline Bowman at Dream Wall 
Caroline Bowman, who stars as Eva Perón in the current run of EVITA at the Center, and Desi Oakley, who performs in certain performances, popped up to the audience engagement displays in the Segerstrom Center lobbies on Wednesday evening. They stepped into the balcony setting to give the signature Eva salute, posted their own dreams on the Dream Wall and posed next to vintage photographs of the former first lady of Argentina. 

Caroline Bowman and Desi Oakley at balcony photo opportunity
Special exhibits, interactive activities and photo opportunities are planned for nearly every Broadway show. Previously, patrons have had the opportunity to pose with members of The Addams Family, ‘get splashed’ in Flashdance and have their photos taken aboard the bus from Priscilla Queen of the Desert

EVITA continues through December 22. To order tickets click here.

Caroline Bowman and Desi Oakley
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Up for Jazz Grammys

McCoy Tyner photo by John Abbott (left) and Joe Lovano photo by Jimmy Katz (right)

Many past – and a couple future – Center favorites are nominees 

by Cristofer Gross 

Nominations for the Grammy® Awards were announced on December 6, and among the nominees in Jazz categories are Segerstrom Jazz Series favorites, including two with upcoming shows. 

Fred Hersch photo by David Bartolomi
Saxophonist Joe Lovano, nominated in the Large Jazz Ensemble category for his guest work on the Brussels Jazz Orchestra's "Wild Beauty" CD, is here this weekend as a special guest with the McCoy Tyner Trio. (Don't miss it: tickets here.)

Fred Hersch, nominated in the Soloist Category for "Free Flying," will make his Center debut May 2. His CD is a duo with Julian Lage, who was here in February 2008 with pianist Taylor Eigsti. 

Hersch is competing against four-time Center visitor Terence Blanchard, whose last visit, in April 2011, was a memorable double bill with Branford Marsalis' quartet. 

For Best Jazz Vocal Album, two-timer Tierney Sutton (2004, 2007) is our favorite for "After Blue," a Joni Mitchell collection. In 2007, when asked about singer-songwriters in general and Mitchell in particular, Tierney told me, "Joni is a genius. I love her. There may come a time when I can figure out something honorable to do with something of hers." 

The nomination makes "After Blue" officially "honorable!" 

Instrumental Competition
Terri Lyne Carrington photo by Tracy Love

In the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category, vibraphonist Gary Burton, who joined Chick Corea for a dazzling duo here in March 2011, is nominated for "Guided Tour," competing with drummer Terri Lynn Carrington, who was just here in ACS with pianist Geri Allen and bassist Esperanza Spalding. She is nominated for a reworking of Duke Ellington's "Money Jungle," called "Provocative In Blue." 

Bassist Christian McBride's trio is also up for "Out Here." Christian is another three-time Center visitor, most recently with Blanchard as part of the Ivan Lins tribute in 2007. 

Best wishes to all Jazz nominees (full list). The awards will be announced in a live CBS broadcast on January 26. 

Cristofer Gross writes jazz features for Center publications. His interview with Joe Lovano is here.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Two Great Ladies – One Great Show

Left, a portrait of Eva "Evita" Perón and right, Caroline Bowman as Eva 
in the National Tour of EVITA. Photo by Richard Termine.

EVITA was the first British show to win a Tony Award® for Best Musical. It is possible that more people today know who Eva “Evita” Perón was because of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, but how many people know who ‘Tony' was?

The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as the Tony Award, was named after Antoinette Perry, actress, director, producer and wartime leader who co-founded the American Theatre Wing. The Tonys recognize achievement in live Broadway theater. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. 

Antoinette "Tony" Perry
Toni, as she originally spelled her nickname, scored an enviable list of hits and became one of theater’s most influential women. Well into the 1970s, she was the only woman director with a track record of Broadway hits. At the peak of her acting career, she married Frank Frueauff, vice president of Denver Gas and Electric, which he merged with Cities Service (now CITGO). Unbeknownst to Mr. Freuhauff, his wife had not put aside her passion for dabbling in theater. She invested in a production by Brock Pemberton – a comedy by Zona Gale called Miss Lulu Bett – which won the Pulitzer Prize and become a huge hit. 

Antoinette "Tony" Perry
Perry, who by then had changed the spelling of her name to Tony, continued to support the theater, including such philanthropic gestures as providing financial assistance to actors and playwrights who had fallen on rough times. In 1939 she helped to found The Wing, which operated the famed Stage Door Canteen in the basement of the (now razed) 44th Street Theatre, where stars worked as dishwashers, waiters, waitresses, and entertainers for the armed forces. The sale of film rights for a story about the canteen, and a six-figure check from Perry along with support from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, provided USO tours of shows to overseas troops. During and after the war, The Wing, under her leadership, underwrote auditions for 7,000 hopefuls. Perry was also president of the National Experimental Theatre and financed, with Actors Equity and the Dramatists Guild, the work of new playwrights. 

Perry died suddenly just short of the age of 58. Pemberton suggested the name for the award when they made their official debut at a dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria hotel on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947.

To learn more about Ms. Perry, please visit

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dedicated to the One He Loves

Jean Chung and Marty Chao
Photo by Michael Khoury 
Marty Chao surprised his wife, Jean Chung, for her birthday by dedicating the November 7 performance of Diana Vishneva: On the Edge to her. Marty participated in the Center’s Dedicate a Performance opportunity. Jean took ballet classes for eight years as a child and recently began again. Marty expressed a special sentiment in lobby signage, and Jean received an autographed framed show poster, a card, champagne toast and birthday cupcake at intermission in the Center’s private donor room. They took home a bottle of wine to continue the celebrations. 

A gift to the Center of $2,500 ($2,430 of which is tax-deductible) allows you to dedicate a performance of your choice in honor of a special person or milestone occasion. It’s perfect for birthdays, anniversaries, retirement, etc. For information, call Malika Middlebrooks at (714) 556-2122, ext. 4214 or e-mail

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Guilds Hold Annual Toy Drive in Segerstrom Hall

The Guilds ladies with U.S. Marines at Toys for Tots drive
Celebrate the season and spread holiday cheer by donating toys and gift certificates through The Guilds of the Center’s toy drive! 

The Guilds support the annual U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. The drive helps collect toys for families that are unable to afford Christmas gifts for their children. Gift certificates and unwrapped toys – with the exception of stuffed animals – will be donated to less fortunate families in the community. 

The Guilds “elves” will accept toys on December 3 & 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Segerstrom Hall lobby. To learn more about The Guilds of the Center, please visit

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Fine Falstaff Heads to the Center

A scene from LA Opera's 2005 production of Falstaff 
Photo by Robert Millard
The reviews are in for LA Opera’s new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Falstaff. The OC Register’s Tim Mangan wrote of Verdi’s comic masterpiece and this production's star, “In no other opera does the orchestra play more of a crucial part than in Falstaff. The orchestra’s music is delicious, mercurial, boisterous, hilarious, ingenious. … Italian baritone Roberto Frontali was the marvelous Falstaff, easily negotiating the poles of pompous self-regard and wounded ego, and nimbly, rhythmically barking his lines in a rich but penetrating voice.” 

Roberto Frontali as Falstaff. Photo by Marc Vanappelghem 
Courtesy of Opera de Lausanne
Mangan added good news for Center audiences – “Orange County will fortunately have the opportunity to hear it when the company brings Falstaff, in concert performance and no fat suit, to Segerstrom Concert Hall on Nov. 26. I think I’ll go.” The Center welcomes Mr. Mangan and all fans of opera, Verdi and the Bard.

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From the Wings Chapter Hits the Airways

Betty Batenburg, publicity chair of the From the Wings Chapter of The Guilds of the Center, made a special appearance on MediaServices55’s This Day television program, which is seen on the Laguna Woods community cable system. Also based in Laguna Woods, the chapter’s focus is on supporting and raising awareness for Segerstrom Center’s community and education programs. Among their goals is to help pay for transportation that brings students from across Orange County to special performances at the Center. 

The Guilds is a network of individual area chapters. Members are crucial to the success of the Center as a provider of great artistic and cultural experiences and arts education programs to Orange County. To learn more about The Guilds and the From the Wings Chapter and to attend their monthly fund and friend-raisers, please contact Membership Chair Shirley Neal at (949) 859-9676.

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Friday, November 1, 2013

“Hello” and “Привет” from Diana Vishneva

Famed ballerina Diana Vishneva sends her regards to Segerstrom Center dance fans in a personal shout-out video: 

Ms. Vishneva’s shout-out video in Russian: 

Diana VIshenva: On the Edge has been created by the Center to showcase this great ballerina’s incomparable artistry. She will dance world premiere works by choreographers Carolyn Carlson and Jean-Christophe Maillot in Segerstrom Hall next week on November 6, 7, 9 & 10. 

To learn more about Diana Vishneva: On the Edge and to purchase tickets, please visit our website here. To see videos of Ms. Vishneva during early choreography sessions, click here for Switch and here for Woman in a Room

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Verdi’s Uplifting Operatic Farewell Comes to the Center

Roberto Frontali as Falstaff. Photo by Marc Vanappelghem, 
courtesy of Opera de Lausanne
On November 26, Giuseppe Verdi’s comic masterpiece and final opera will be heard in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall during a concert performance of LA Opera’s fully staged production. Thomas May, a regular contributor to LA Opera’s programs has prepared a fascinating scan of this brilliant opus that many critics consider his finest work. May writes, “Whoever laughs last, laughs best—or, in the more elegant formulation by Arrigo Boito, author of Falstaff’s libretto: Ma ride ben chi ride / La risata finale … It’s quintessential Verdi, incorporating myriad references to his own artistic past; and yet, far from repeating himself, the composer responds to the drama with a remarkably innovative attitude. This trait can still surprise opera lovers accustomed to the more obviously lyrical style of the blockbusters from earlier in his career. A prominent example of its novelty is the unusual (for Verdi) degree of integration of voices and orchestra, which some even describe as symphonic.” It’s an operatic tour de force and final opera by Italy’s greatest composer. 

To read May’s complete story and to purchase tickets, click here.

A scene from LA Opera's 2005 production of Falstaff
Photo by Robert Millard.
A scene from LA Opera's 2005 production of Falstaff
Photo by Robert Millard
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

On-the-Air about On the Edge

On the Edge Choreographers Carolyn Carlson and Jean-Christophe Maillot
When Diana Vishneva: On the Edge premieres at the Center on November 6, the world of dance will have two brand new works to experience and embrace – Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Switch and Carolyn Carlson’s Woman in a Room. But what exactly are these two dances about? What is the inspiration? How involved was Ms. Vishneva in this process? Are you pondering similar questions? 

Good news, you can tune to classical KUSC-FM this Saturday morning (8 a.m. PT) November 2 when the weekly arts program “Arts Alive” airs interviews with choreographers Maillot and Carlson as well as Segerstrom Center Executive Vice President (and dance lover) Judy Morr about all things dance and On the Edge

On the Edge Choreographers Carolyn Carlson and Jean-Christophe Maillot
with "Arts Alive" Executive Producer Kelsey McConnell
Not a morning person? Fret not, you can visit KUSC-FM's website and listen to the podcast online. 

For more information about our International Dance Series, please visit

Segerstrom Center Executive Vice President Judy Morr
"Arts Alive" Executive Producer Kelsey McConnell

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Bravo, Luigi Palumbo!

Luigi Palumbo of Paularino Elementary School

Luigi Palumbo from Paularino Elementary School took first prize in the 5th - 6th Grade Level in this year’s Costa Mesa Library Foundation Student Essay, Photography and Video Competition. The competition was open to both public and private schools, and there were 212 entries. The essay’s theme was “My Favorite Place in Costa Mesa.” Luigi selected the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall with performances by Pacific Symphony as his favorite place. 

Winners, including budding essayist Palumbo, attended an awards dinner on October 23 in the Captain’s Table of Orange Coast College. In addition to his commendation, Segerstrom Center presented Luigi with a congratulatory letter from Center President Terry Dwyer and a certificate for tickets to attend the April 4, 2014 concert by organist Cameron Carpenter co-presented by the Center and Pacific Symphony – packaged in one of the Center’s JERSEY BOYS totes. Congratulations, Young Mr. Palumbo!  

by Luigi Palumbo 

Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale
at the 
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall
My favorite place in Costa Mesa is the Segerstrom Concert Hall. The Segerstrom Concert Hall is a place where the Pacific Symphony plays their concerts. It looks like a humongous auditorium with soft red chairs everywhere. In the very front, the whole Symphony is playing music. The hall is very big, so the sounds of all the instruments can be heard. The Segerstrom Concert Hall is my favorite place because I like to hear the music of the Symphony. I like to see and hear the string family (violins, violas, cellos and bass) the most. In the hall I listen and watch the Pacific Symphony play in harmony. The music sounds wonderful when the musicians come together and play their instruments. I go there with my school on field trips and I really enjoy it.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Priscilla Stars Greet ASF Supporters

AIDS Services Foundation auction winners
backstage with the cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert 
Stars from Priscilla Queen of the Desert welcomed several special guests backstage following the show’s October 22 opening at the Center. Mike and Nancy Brown generously supported AIDS Services Foundation last month at the Foundation’s SPLASH! Fundraiser. They purchased one of two live auction packages that included dinners for four at Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge in the Center’s Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and tickets to Priscilla. The Priscilla stars – Wade McCollum, Bryan West and Scott Willis – met the Browns and their guests to a special thank you and backstage tour. 

For more information about ASF, visit To purchase tickets to Priscilla Queen of the Desert, click here. The show is at Segerstrom Center for a limited engagement through Sunday, October 27.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Priscilla Packs a Fashion Whallop!

The only rule is don't be boring and dress cute wherever you go. 
Life is too short to blend in. 
— Paris Hilton 

Boring will never be used in the same fashion breath as Priscilla Queen of the Desert! The Tony® Award-winner for best costume design dazzles and amazes. Count them if you will/can: 500 costumes, more than 200 hats and headdresses, 150 pairs of shoes and 60 wigs. Ostrich feathers number 295. During the Broadway run, approximately 1,500 makeup remover wipes were used EACH WEEK, 24 pairs of eye lashes for EACH PERFORMANCE, 175 tubes of lipstick, 75 pots of eye shadow and 2 pounds of glitter EACH MONTH. And to remove all that glitter from those lips – with 12 rolls of packing tape each week. Ouch! 

Prepare yourself for this fashion frolic and join the adoring audiences at the Center now through Sunday, October 27.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Alvin Sputnik Sets Down at the Center

DeMille Elementary School students
…. And students from DeMille Elementary in Midway City (Westminster School District) were on hand to greet him! Alvin and his human mentor, Sam from the Perth Theatre Company, met DeMille’s fourth, fifth and sixth graders after the Thursday, October 17 performance in Samueli Theater for a little real human contact and interaction. The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer is making its West Coast premiere in Segerstrom Center’s Family Series. 

DeMille Elementary School students

Please visit our website for more information about the Center’s Family Series or the Center’s education and community engagement programs.

The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer

Photo by Michelle Robin Anderson
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Celebrating Giuseppe Verdi at 200 with Falstaff

Giuseppe Verdi, the man many consider the father of Italian opera, would have celebrated his 200 birthday on October 10. While he could not be with us in person, opera and music fans around the world have been commemorating the occasion with special concerts and performances of his works. 

Roberto Frontali as Falstaff © Marc Vanappelghem
Courtesy of Opera de Lausanne
Verdi had a tremendous influence on the evolution of opera, in particular, infusing it with profound emotional theatricality. The Washington Post music critic and opera-enthusiast Anne Midgette raved, “For me, Verdi has always made perfect sense. Something about his work accords with my sense of how life works, and how stories can be told and experienced.” He said of himself, "I adore art... when I am alone with my notes, my heart pounds and the tears stream from my eyes, and my emotion and my joys are too much to bear." It is likely that countless people who have heard his music and watched his operas have said the same thing about their experiences with his notes. 

His final opera, Falstaff, will be presented in concert version at the Center on November 26. Based on Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV, Part I, many critics have called it his finest work. This comic masterpiece, the crowning glory of his magnificent career, will be performed by LA Opera, conducted by LA Opera Music Director James Conlon and star Italian baritone Roberto Frontali. 

To learn more about Falstaff, please visit

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