Riverside, CA: FOX FUTURE - Entertainment plaza, more shows

The Fox Performing Arts Center is just the first wave of Riverside's larger vision for creating an entertainment destination.

In September, work began to demolish a nearby building to make way for the Fox Entertainment Plaza. Scheduled to be completed in May 2012, the plaza will include 400 parking spots, about 10,000 square feet of exhibit space for the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, a black box theater, a restaurant and retail shops.

Dave Brooks, of the industry trade publication Venues Today, said many venues, including the Orange County Performing Arts Center, are adding black box theaters, which are versatile rooms without fixed seating.

The Fox's operator, William P. Malone, said he thinks a black box theater will serve a number of community groups whose productions aren't large enough to play the Fox.

Meanwhile, the Fox has shows booked through June.

Broadway in Riverside finishes out its second season with Monty Python's "Spamalot" today, "Legally Blonde" March 18-20 and "Burn the Floor" May 20-22.

Last week, the Fox announced four more performances for the spring season, including The Canadian Tenors on March 13, Chris Botti on March 26, Arlo Guthrie on April 10 and the '70s country rock bill of Poco, Firefall and Pure Prairie League on June 3.

Malone said he is hoping to book a few more acts for June before focusing on the fall season.

In the first year, Malone said, he learned that classic rock plays well at the theater, as well as more formal performing arts events, such as the ballet and the Riverside County Philharmonic.

Barbara Lohman, the Philharmonic's executive director, said the orchestra will return, too.

The theater, she said, is a vast improvement for performers and patrons over the Philharmonic's former home, the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, which the city temporarily closed last summer for renovations.

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