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Now onstage: the past 100 years

Segerstrom Center's upcoming season, which got a preview showing Monday, spans material from multiple decades.

August 13, 2013|By Michael Miller and Rhea Mahbubani
  • Daphne Lee takes flights as she performs Robert Battle's "Takademe" during a preview performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Monday.
Daphne Lee takes flights as she performs Robert Battle's… (Don Leach, Daily…)

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts' upcoming season doesn't feature a musical based on the songs of Billy Joel. But if it did, a couple of lines from "Piano Man" might summarize a good deal of the schedule: "Son, can you play me a memory? / I'm not really sure how it goes."

There are memories aplenty on the center's 2013-14 docket, including something for just about anyone born in the last 100 years. For those who were young in the 1930s, there's Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Wizard of Oz." Early days of television? "I Love Lucy Live On Stage." Sixties pop? The Four Seasons musical "Jersey Boys."

Truly making out like bandits, though, will be anyone who regularly went to the movies in the early- to mid-1990s. With "Sister Act," based on the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg comedy, still playing, the center has a slew of other offerings for the coming season that echo the multiplex of two decades ago: "Disney's Beauty and the Beast," "Ghost The Musical," "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" and even Lloyd Webber's newly envisioned "Evita," which originated onstage in the late 1970s but became a 1996 film starring Madonna.

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One of the blessings of Broadway is its ability to connect generations and make old material seem new — how many young patrons saw "Jersey Boys" and then ran out to buy a Four Seasons compilation? — and that was evident when the center offered an invitation-only preview of its coming season Monday night. For slightly over an hour, Judy Morr, executive vice president of the Center, and Broadway Across America's Bob Bucci hosted a sampler of upcoming shows with video montages and live performances.

Local Irish band the Humble Hooligans kicked off the festivities with a 30-minute homage to the eight-time Tony recipient "Once." Older patrons clapped and nodded in time with the quintet — two of whom, with their berets and long beards, looked like they'd been plucked from an Irish postcard — while adolescents dawdled on their phones.

Taking the mic, Morr revealed that guests who arrive early for a "Once" performance next August — among the first in its national tour — can order a drink from the onstage bar while enjoying the cast's musical warmup. Her claim that the upcoming season might be Segerstrom's finest yet was corroborated by Bucci, who likened the lineup, which spotlights everything from "Ghost The Musical" and "Mamma Mia!" to "The Book of Mormon," to winning the lottery.

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