For the first time, five of Long Beach’s most well-known performing arts groups will be performing in the same space – an initiative the groups hope will build upon their existing audiences.
Earlier this month, Mayor Robert Garcia and former Mayor Beverly O’Neill joined the heads of Musical Theatre West, International City Theatre, Musica Angelica, Long Beach Opera and Long Beach Camerata Singers to announce the groups’ new seasons and series within the recently renamed Beverly O’Neill Theater at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center.
The groups’ new programming will mark the first regular performances in the theater since it was renamed from The Center Theater. At the event, O’Neill cracked that she was sure that when the name change in her honor had been proposed that a councilmember would no doubt object because she isn’t even dead yet, earning laughs from attendees.
A small crowd of boardmembers, local elected officials and community members enjoyed small bites and coffee while listening to remarks from the former and current mayors and enjoying performances by each of the arts groups.
International City Theatre has been performing at the location for more than two decades, Artistic Director and Producer caryn desai told the Business Journal following the event. The group’s 31st season, with plays chosen specifically to celebrate theatrical writers, began in February and continues through November. For tickets and more information, visit www.ictlongbeach.org.
Although having more groups perform at the theater means more demand on the space, desai indicated that having the groups perform in one location would be beneficial for all. “I think when a community has a central place to go for the arts, it does build more synergy and more of an awareness of what everyone else is doing,” she said.
Martin Haselböck, music director of the baroque orchestra Musica Angelica, had similar sentiments. “I know from experience that these compacts enlarge the audience, because you bring one group audience to the other group,” he said. “I think all this activity will help to enhance and enlarge and attract new audiences.”
Musica Angelica’s next season begins October 8 and runs through April 2017. For more information, visit www.musicaangelica.org.
Being in close proximity is already generating collaborations between the groups. Musica Angelica and Long Beach Opera plan to partner in their upcoming seasons, Haselböck noted. The Long Beach Opera’s next season begins with this collaboration on January 22, 2017. For more information, visit www.longbeachopera.org.
Musical Theatre West (MTW) isn’t moving its regular season to the space, but is instead moving its reading series – in which actors read from the page rather than staging a full-fledged production – to the theater, according to Executive Director and Producer Paul Garman. MTW is also debuting a new concert series in the space, which will feature recurring performers with the group, beginning with musical theater veteran Davis Gaines on October 1. For more information, visit www.musical.org.
The day after Gaines performs, Long Beach Camerata Singers is kicking off its season at the Beverly O’Neill Theater with a performance inspired by the popular BBC series Downtown Abbey. As Jan Hower, president of the organization’s board of directors, explained, the singers will perform songs that the characters in Downtown Abbey likely would have listened to. For more information, visit www.longbeachcameratasingers.org.