MADISON CAMPUS — The Broad Stage’s third season will feature an eclectic mix of talent that spans mariachi to jazz to improv.

The venue’s schedule was released Thursday during a press conference that featured some of the acts that are scheduled to perform at the venue, giving boosters and reporters a glimpse of what’s on tap this coming season.

“In two years, I think we’re well on our way to becoming a cultural institution,” said Austin Beutner, chair of the Broad Stage board of directors.

Santa Monica College’s Broad Stage was constructed at a cost of $45 million, with $40 million coming from local taxpayers in the form of two bond measures.

Dale Franzen, founding director of The Broad Stage, emphasized the need to produce multiple performances despite the struggling economy, which has forced other cultural institutions to cut back.

“At times like these, it’s even more important,” Franzen said of hosting multiple shows.

Broad Stage officials said the third season will bring the highest caliber of performers yet to the venue.

“For two seasons now, The Broad Stage has brought to the Westside some of the best artists performing today from the worlds of jazz, Broadway, coffeehouse and concert hall,” read a press release from Artistic Advisory Board Chair Dustin Hoffman, Board of Directors Chair Austin Beutner and Franzen.

“The 2010-11 season is even more ambitious, with more programming featuring visionaries in contemporary dance and film, more community and multi-media events, and a recognition that in times like these it is even more important to achieve our founding promise to grow into a global laboratory of creativity and an artistic playground for world famous and emerging talents alike,” the released stated.

The performances will begin with a summer pre-season which Franzen described as “filling in the gap,” of the absence of artistic performances on the Westside during the summer. The Broad is also launching some new programs this season.

To display their self-described state-of-the-art screening capacities, The Films 4 Change Festival will make The Broad Stage host to “socially conscious and award-winning documentaries,” Franzen said. The films scheduled to run are “Food, Inc.,” “No Impact Man,” and “Dirt! The Movie.”

Saturday Morning Mash-Ups will also be offered; an invitation for the whole family to come to the Broad. It’s a twist on old-fashioned children’s concerts. One of these performances, which will play from Feb. 2 until Feb. 6 of 2011, will be based on Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

The first group of performers who took the stage Thursday was the Mariachi Divas, the first all-female Mariachi group to win a Grammy. Their energetic and engaging performance was the perfect choice to open up with, captivating the audience with their powerful vocals and strong trumpet-playing in their cover of “La Bamba.”

They had the audience clapping along with them, performing for just enough time to give the crowd a sense of what to expect from them on Sept.19, when they will be celebrating the Mexican Independence Bicentennial.

The second performance was from Saturday Night Live alum Laraine Newman, who satirically read from broadcaster Jo Anne Wilder’s autobiography, eliciting several laughs from the audience. This was a preview of five different nights to come this season which will feature a rotating roster of comedians acting out the memoirs of various celebrities such as Star Jones, Sylvester Stallone, Elizabeth Taylor, and Mr. T.

To find out more about the Broad Stage, visit thebroadstage.com.

news@smdp.com

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