The answer to the $94.5 million question? The new Mesa Arts Center officially will open April 22. Administrators of Arizona’s largest arts center announced Tuesday that the center’s art galleries will open with ‘‘Deborah Butterfield: Horses,’’ an exhibition featuring several life-size metal horses by the world-renowned Montana sculptor.
The arts center — a stateof-the-art, 212,755-square-foot performing arts, visual arts and arts education complex — also announced a partnership with Kansas City-based Theatre League to bring nationally touring Broadway shows, including ‘‘Lord of the Dance’’ and ‘‘42nd Street,’’ to the center’s theaters, which will open in September.
‘‘We’ve been working a long time on the programming,’’ said Gerry Fathauer, executive director of the arts center. ‘‘For so many years — since 1998, really — it’s all been about the buildings. It’s really a pleasure to finally announce some of the high-level programming.’’
Besides the 2,400-squarefoot Butterfield exhibition, which will run through June 19 in the largest of the center’s five art galleries, other inaugural art shows will feature Baltimore bead artist Joyce J. Scott, Maine woven-hay artist Michael Shaughnessy, Seattle glass sculptor Anna Skibska and Valley interactive multimedia artists Patricia Clark and Gene Cooper.
‘‘I think we’re making statement, especially with the Butterfield exhibition, that this is a world-class facility and we intend to showcase worldclass artists,’’ Fathauer said.
The Mesa ‘‘Best of Broadway’’ theater series will consist of Celtic dance favorite ‘‘Lord of the Dance’’ (Oct. 7-9), the Broadway revival of ‘‘42nd Street’’ (Nov. 4-6), Rob Becker’s long-running Broadway hit ‘‘Defending the Caveman’’ (Feb. 3-5, 2006) and the Tonywinning drum-and-brass musical ‘‘Blast!’’ (March 24-26).
All four productions will be staged in the 1,600-seat Ikeda Theater, the largest of the arts center’s four performance spaces. The center is at the southeast corner of Main and Center streets in downtown Mesa.
‘‘Developing a Broadway season at the Mesa Arts Center was a very important goal for us,’’ said Randy Vogel, the center’s performing arts administrator. ‘‘In terms of establishing the center as the new venue, Broadway is especially — in our community — a very popular art form. We feel it’s important to attract people to Mesa.’’
Theater League’s Broadway series, now in its 15th season, will continue to play at the Orpheum in downtown Phoenix as well. The Orpheum’s season series will feature ‘‘The Full Monty’’ instead of ‘‘Lord of the Dance.’’
Vogel said he’s negotiating with several other regional arts organizations and expects to announce more partnerships in the coming weeks.
The only previously announced event at the Mesa Arts Center is a performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra on March 5, 2006.
BEST OF BROADWAY:
• "Lord of the Dance"
• "42nd Street"
• "Defending the Caveman"
DEBUT ART EXHIBIT:
• "Deborah Butterfield: Horses"