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Quality over quantity Gallo's goal for lineup in its fourth season

The Gallo Center for the Arts' 2010-11 season will include singer Michael Bolton, comedian Rob Schneider, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and actor Ed Asner.

The touring Broadway shows coming to the center are "Disney's Beauty and the Beast," "A Chorus Line," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Monty Python's Spamalot" and "Burn the Floor."

Series subscriptions may be purchased now; individual tickets go on sale June 18.

The center's fourth season, which begins in September, is scaled back to 90 performances, as compared with 130 this year, said Executive Director Lynn Dickerson. Tickets are cheaper, with more shows with prices starting at less than $20.

"We really whacked our prices on the balcony," Dickerson said.

New this year is a speaker series. In addition to Bourdain, known for his exotic food consumption on the Travel Channel, the series will include author and activist Greg Mortenson ("Three Cups of Tea"), author and journalist Mitch Albom ("Tuesdays With Morrie") and author and syndicated newspaper columnist Amy Dickinson ("Ask Amy").

"We were trying to find people with broad-based appeal in our market," Dickerson said.

"Disney's Beauty and the Beast" is the most expensive show the Gallo Center has brought in and will have five performances (most of the touring shows have four).

Dickerson said that it will be Broadway-quality and more lavish than other recent community theater productions.

The arts center added a "Bette Belle Smith Holiday Series" to honor one of Modesto's biggest volunteers. The series was funded with the $35,000 the center received in memorial contributions after Smith died at age 88 in November.

The season's lineup includes Christian entertainers such as the group Point of Grace, black-centered shows such as "Drumline" and country music artists, including Randy Travis.

There are far fewer dance shows and world music concerts than in past seasons, mostly because they haven't sold well, Dickerson said.

Gallo Center staffers said they are excited about the lineup and believe it has something for everyone. Doug Hosner, the center's director of marketing and public relations, said the lineup reflects what polls say patrons want — especially Broadway, comedy and pop music.

"I think it's the best yet," he said. "The choice of artists is wonderful. I like the way it's spread out. I like our approach to pricing — making it more accessible to families."

The arts center has been scaling down its expenses to get in the black after spending millions of dollars more than it earned in its first two seasons. It expects to spend $5.9 million in the next season, down from $7.8 million in 2008-09.

For more on Modesto area arts, visit www.twitter.com/milleganrenner and watch Bee Scene on video at videos.modbee.com.

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