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Spring's Hot Tickets in OC

Eight Performances stand out in a busy arts season

dance-diavolo-troupe
Diavolo dance troupe

“Mel Brooks Back in the Saddle Again”
March 13
Segerstrom Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
He’s won an Oscar, four Emmys, two Grammys and three Tony awards. He’s created and written for some of television’s biggest comedy shows, including “Your Show of Shows” and “Get Smart.” And he’s the brain behind such classic movies as “Young Frankenstein,” “The Producers” and “High Anxiety.” If those credentials aren’t enough to convince you of Mel Brooks’ comic genius, listen to the man himself: “I’ve always been a huge admirer of my own work. I’m one of the funniest and most entertaining writers I know.” At 89, Brooks is still going strong. He’ll be stopping in Orange County for a live conversation and Q-and-A following a screening of his cowboy comedy “Blazing Saddles.” There’s even a VIP meet-and-greet photo opportunity with Brooks. What are you waiting for? :: scfta.org

“Ben-Hur,” featuring Stewart Copeland
March 18-19
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Long before Charlton Heston led the take-your-breath-away chariot race in William Wyler’s
1959 epic “Ben-Hur,” there was a silent film of the same name. Filmed at a cost of $3.9 million, the 1925 movie was the most expensive silent picture ever made. Stewart Copeland, best known as the drummer for the band The Police, has composed a new score for the film, which will be screened in Segerstrom Concert Hall with a live performance by the Pacific Symphony. Copeland will join the orchestra on drums and percussion. The chariot scene remains the high point of the film, but there’s another reason to pay close attention: During the filming of the movie, such stars as Clark Gable, Douglas Fairbanks, Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy, Mary Pickford and Gary Cooper stopped by and wound up being extras. See if you can spot any of the classic Hollywood stars, many of whom were not yet big names when the movie was shot. :: pacificsymphony.org

“Office Hour”
April 10-May 1
South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Playwright Julia Cho returns to South Coast Repertory with a third world premiere, “Office Hour.” As in her play “The Piano Teacher,” seen at SCR in 2007, things may not be as they seem. Set on a college campus, Cho’s timely play revolves around a student whose manner of dress and violence-filled writing assignments are spooking classmates. But one teacher isn’t afraid as she attempts to get close to him. Sandra Oh, best known as Dr. Cristina Yang on the long-running ABC series “Grey’s Anatomy,” stars as Gina, the teacher. Cho, whose other plays include “The Language Archive” and “Durango,” is the recipient of
the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, which recognizes
female playwrights. :: scr.org

Yuja Wang
May 3
Soka Performing Arts Center, Soka University, 1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo
How often are classical pianists as praised for their talent on the keyboards as they are for their fashion sense? Though much has been made of 29-year-old Yuja Wang’s daring outfits, it’s her dazzling performances that stand out. Wang began studying piano at age 6 and in a few short years became an international star, praised for her exacting technique and fresh interpretations of some of the most challenging classic works. The pianist has performed with the greatest orchestras in the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. One reviewer called her, “quite simply, the most dazzlingly, uncannily gifted pianist in the concert world today.” Wang has played in such venues as Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl, but here’s a chance to hear her in the more intimate confines of Soka’s Performing Arts Center. :: soka.edu/pac

New York Philharmonic
May 3
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Alan Gilbert shook up the classical music world when he announced he would step down as music director of the New York Philharmonic in 2017, a position he’s held since 2009. Gilbert, largely credited with reinventing the Phil with his adventurous programming, will lead the orchestra at the Segerstrom Concert Hall. The evening will feature Carter Brey, principal cellist for the N.Y. Phil, in a program of Brahms (“Tragic Overture, Op. 81” and Symphony No. 2 in D major) and Schumann (Cello Concerto, Op. 129). If that isn’t enough for you, on the following night you can head to San Diego, where you can take in an evening of Beethoven (“Egmont Overture” and Symphony No. 7) and Sibelius (Symphony No. 7 and “Finlandia”) at Copley Symphony Hall. It’s a chance to see Gilbert in his waning time as the N.Y. Phil maestro – his successor, Jaap van Zweden, will take the baton in 2017 as music director designate. :: philharmonicsociety.org

Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott
May 14
Segerstrom Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott have been playing together since 1984. Not only are they collaborators, they are close friends. Late last year, they released the album “Songs from the Arc of Life,” a mix of Brahms, Fauré, Gershwin and more. For their performance at Segerstrom Hall, Ma and Stott will perform the Bach-Gounod arrangement of “Ave Maria,” which is featured on the album, as well as Schubert’s “Ave Maria, D. 839.” Also on the program are Gade’s “Tango Jalousie,” Debussy’s “Beau Soir,” Shostakovich’s Sonata in D minor, Op. 40, and additional works by Sibelius, Franck and contemporary composer Giovanni Sollima. Ma and Stott have been compared to “champion dancers who anticipate each other’s moves: the slightest bends and turns or dramatic leaps. They listen and respond, shape and give way.” Here’s your chance to share in their 30-year friendship. :: philharmonicsociety.org

Diavolo – Architecture in Motion: “L.O.S.T.”
May 14
Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine
Orange County audiences may be familiar with the LA-based dance troupe Diavolo – Architecture in Motion, but the company’s work always brings surprises. Artistic director and founder Jacques Heim and his hyper-physical troupe perform feats of gymnastics, dance and movement atop and alongside enormous, custom-designed architectural structures. For 25 years, the fearless dancers of Diavolo have been creating a distinctive experience for viewers around the world. To mark their anniversary, the troupe is introducing a program called “L.O.S.T.” Heim describes part one, “Cubicle,” as “a rapidly moving reflection on the cramped routine of midcentury America.” The piece, which was workshopped at the Irvine Barclay last year, was commissioned by the Cheng Family Foundation and co-commissioned by the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and Des Moines Performing Arts. “Cubicle” will be followed by a creation still under development. :: thebarclay.org

“Buyer & Cellar”
June 1-26
Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach
Come on, admit it: At some point, you’ve wondered just how your favorite celebrities really live – and what they’re like outside the spotlight. After reading the coffee table book “Barbra Streisand: My Passion for Design,” playwright Jonathan Tolins imagined working for one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. And not just in any old job. He zeroed in on an out-of-sight hideaway on the grounds of Streisand’s estate: a mall under a barn on the property. Yes, for real. The mall contains a fully stocked doll shop, antiques outlet, costume boutique and more. Naturally, she would need a clerk to look after the shops, so enter out-of-work actor Alex, who takes a job overseeing the emporium. And you never know whether its sole “customer,” the elusive diva Streisand, may pop in for a bit of “shopping.” :: lagunaplayhouse.com



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