The Gallo Center for the Arts has added a comedy series and beefed up country and Broadway offerings for its third season.
The Modesto center will mail season brochures next week listing 21 series with two, three or four shows each. Those season-ticket packages, plus the season-opener concert featuring pop star Paul Anka, go on sale Friday.
Additional shows will be announced next month, with individual tickets going on sale July 25.
The 2009-10 season, which begins in August, features comedians Dana Carvey and John Cleese and country artists Merle Haggard, Kenny Rogers, Clint Black, JoDee Messina and Sara Evans.
The 10-show Broadway lineup (up from seven shows this season) includes new productions "The Wedding Singer," "Avenue Q" and "The Drowsy Chaperone" and old favorites "Annie" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," which stars Ted Neeley. Neeley held the title role in the 1973 movie version of "JCS" and was an understudy for the role in the 1971-73 Broadway run.
The center also will offer Celtic and Irish performances, family shows including acrobats, magic acts and children's theater, Portuguese music, taiko drumming, big-band shows, blues concerts, Mexican entertainment, jazz, guitar shows, international dance and piano.
Gone or pared down are nonmusical theater offerings (last season's productions included "The Iliad" and the radio-theater double bill "The Lost World"/"War of the Worlds"), modern dance and gospel music. There just wasn't enough of a demand. "We have a lot more operating experience, feedback from the community of what people are interested in," said Executive Director Dave Pier.
Also gone this year is the swank season-opening gala party. Instead, the center will have a season-opening concert featuring Anka, famous for the hits "Diana," "Put Your Head on My Shoulder," "Lonely Boy" and "You're Having My Baby." Pier said the center might have a gala party later in the season as a fund-raiser.
Several artists are returning because of popular demand. Repeat acts include Jeffrey Siegel's Keyboard Conversations, the "It's Magic" revue and the California Theatre Center's children's plays.
Ticket prices will be about the same, Pier said. "Some are a little lower, some a little higher for comparable shows."
The cheapest series is "Fun for Kids," with three shows priced as low as $21. The most expensive is the Doctors Medical Center Broadway series, with three shows priced starting at $115. The center hasn't announced its top subscription prices.
Bette Belle Smith, a member of the Gallo Center board of trustees, said she is happy with the job that center staff has done in booking shows. "I trust their judgment in getting a good, diverse amount of programs so that everyone in the community can enjoy them," she said.
Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2313.
The Gallo Center for the Arts, on 1000 I St., Modesto, has two theaters: the 1,250-seat Rogers Theater and 444-seat Foster Theater. Series subscriptions go on sale Friday, individual tickets go on sale July 25; www.galloarts.org or 338-2100.