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A Full House Of Acts

Singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson, the musical "Cats" and the State Symphony of Mexico are among the more than 60 acts that will usher in the Gallo Center for the Arts' opening season.

The highly anticipated unveiling of the downtown Modesto center's schedule of entertainment, beyond local groups, includes former TV stars Barbara Eden ("I Dream of Jeannie") and Hal Linden ("Barney Miller") in the play "Love Letters," gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama and jazz group Manhattan Transfer.

Among other productions are "Love, Janis," a rock musical about 1960s icon Janis Joplin, and Shaolin Warriors, a kung fu show.

Season tickets to the 18 threeand four-program themed packages will go on sale today, with the first events beginning in October. Season ticket holders will have first crack at tickets to eight additional shows not tied to packages, including the play "Gypsy," the Vienna Boys Choir and "The Pink Floyd Experience."

Dave Pier, the center's executive director, said his staff sought diverse artists who reflect many tastes when searching for shows and performers outside of its four resident companies.

"We wanted artists people are interested in seeing, but also affordable," he said.

Subscription prices for season tickets will be as low as $24, the cheapest price for the three-show California Theatre Center's family series, and as high as $270, the top price for the four-show Broadway series.

Package titles include "Jazz Favorites," "Celtic Music," "Traditions From Mexico," and "International Dance With a Flair." Other featured cultures include Latin, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, Indian, African-American and African.

"I'm proud of how much Latino performers we're getting in the first year," Pier said, pointing out that the center is sponsoring two Latino series.

Dance styles represented will include flamenco, break dance, belly dance and contemporary styles.

Parents who want to introduce their children to the arts will have plenty of options, including two family series. The award-winning, Sunnyvale-based California Theatre Center will present plays for children as young as kindergarten age. Magic, circus and acrobatic acts also are in the lineup.

Classical music lovers can enjoy international orchestras, a string trio and accomplished pianists.

Season tickets for the arts center's resident companies went on sale weeks ago. Subscriptions for the Modesto Symphony Orchestra, Townsend Opera Players and Central West Ballet are available; the Modesto Community Concert Association Series is sold out.

Next week, the center is expected to announce the names of the celebrities performing in the grand opening festivities.

"People are going to be really excited when they see the opening week," Pier said.

To buy season tickets, call 338-2100 or toll-free 877-488-3380, or visit the box office at 1010 10th St. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Individual ticket sales for all shows won't begin until Aug. 18 at the Modesto Art & Wine Festival. For more information, visit