Monday, January 31, 2011

Glittery Debut

Half a century on, at long last there's something afoot that might lure Robert Redford and other arts lovers to the San Fernando Valley — or at least make it worth their while to check the cultural listings and consider that, on a given night, Cal State Northridge may have the most happening arts palace in town.

The difference-maker is the new Valley Performing Arts Center, a $125-million, 1,700-seat answer to one of America's longest-running geographical put-downs. Tyne Daly, Gillian Murphy, Ethan Stiefel and Dave Koz will highlight the gala opening Jan. 29. Then it's down to business — if not quite business as usual. Taking a deliberately gradualist approach to presenting in a major hall after years of booking only a 500-seater, the university will offer 14 performances in a four-month spring season.

Classical attractions are the China Philharmonic Orchestra (April 16) and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (March 12). For Broadway fans, there are concerts by Joel Grey and Marvin Hamlisch (Feb. 26), Brian Stokes Mitchell (April 30) and Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin (May 21). Dance offerings are the Russian National Ballet's "Swan Lake" (Feb. 8), Parsons Dance (March 4) and Aszure Barton & Artists (March 26). Arianna Huffington lectures on Feb. 19, and Joan Rivers jests on March 1. Shirley MacLaine performs May 7; pop music performers are Shawn Colvin and Loudon Wainwright III (Feb. 5) and Rosanne Cash (March 19). Mexican brass quintet Metales M5 plays a free Cinco de Mayo concert on the plaza framed by the three-sided performance center, where the reflective glass and tile exterior changes colors as each day progresses.

Tickets are $15 to $55, or $25 to $70, with subscriber discounts of 10% to 40%.

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