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San Diego: A premier destination for theater

The cast of Healing Wars | photo: T. Wood

New York isn’t the only place to catch Broadway caliber theater. San Diego has top-notch talents including, actors, directors, playwrights and musicians, just to name a few. Did you know, San Diego has produced and sent more shows to Broadway than any other city in America. The hit musical Jersey Boys, which won multiple Tony Awards and has been on Broadway since 2005, started life on a stage at the La Jolla Playhouse. Right now, many theaters are finishing out their seasons and some are just getting started, giving San Diegans a few left over gifts to unwrap.

Over at Diversionary Theatre, San Diego’s only LGBT theater, they are starting the New Year with a new artistic director (Matt Morrow) and a San Diego premiere musical.

Morrow has hit the ground running finishing out an already established season and adding in a few surprises of his own for the rest of 2015.

“What is great about the spring season is that Diversionary is taking a look at a few shows that rarely get produced,” Morrow said. “A classic Christopher Durang and a classic William Finn and James Lapine are legendary in their own right. Durang has become arguably one of our greatest living LGBT writers of our time; his combination of brains, humor and unique zaniness are beyond compare. My season will start late summer early fall 2015. I am busy programming it now. It will definitely include a few premieres, world and regional.”

Durang’s hilarious Baby with the Bathwater begins Diversionary’s spring season and plays Feb. 26 through March 29 followed by the San Diego premiere of Finn and Lapine’s A New Brain where an eccentric assortment of characters guide a composer through a psychological fantasia where he finds the greatest music he can create lives within the relationships around him.

Hot Guys Dancing

Diversionary also presents a full program in their Cabaret Series including Michael Mizerany’s Hot Guys Dancing now through Jan. 11

Diversionary isn’t the only theater with a few surprises up their sleeves, even if they aren’t forthcoming about those surprises.

Broadway San Diego has snatched more than a few first National Tours away from La La Land (Los Angeles) and there may be a few more on the cards, but Associate Marketing Director Christann Heideman isn’t ready to let the cat out of the bag just yet.

“We have had the honor of a few premieres,” Heideman said. “Jekyll & Hyde starring Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox, the West Coast premiere of The Producers, and the pre-tour launch of Spring Awakening. We will announce the new 2015/2016 season soon and perhaps there will be some surprises.”

Catch Dirty Dancing, now through Jan. 11 and look out for the ultimate feel-good show Mamma Mia coming in April. But don’t delay as Mamma Mia is only playing April 3 through 5 in San Diego.

Joe Kinosian and Ian Lowe in Murder for Two | Photo: Joan Marcus

One of the things that is a huge benefit to San Diegans, though they may not be aware of it, is that if they venture out to North County they can grab a quick round of golf, dine in a first class restaurant and catch a show without having to leave the parking lot.

The Lawrence Welk Resort has theater, golf and great food, all within walking distance of each other.

Welk Artistic Director and Producer/Theatre Manager Joshua Carr, has brought The Welk Theatre back to its glory days. Choosing blockbuster musicals along with great directors and casts, and renting the theater out to one of Vista’s most well-known producing/directing/acting teams (Randall Hickman and Douglas Davis of Vista’s Broadway Theatre).

He credits the theaters success with listening to his patrons, what they’d like to see and looking back on Welk’s history.

“[We’re] focusing on the big musicals,” Carr said. “Returning to older days from Welk’s past, putting together a diverse season from old school to contemporary to appeal to all ages and audience trends. What they [patrons] are watching and what they are asking for.”

Motown the Musical | Photo: Joan Marcus

Welk’s San Diego theater lineup for 2015 includes the classic Rogers and Hammerstein The King and I playing now through April 5. And who could forget the infamous Kit Kat Club. Yes, it’s time to “leave your troubles at the door” and enjoy the classic songs of Cabaret. Musical numbers include “Willkommen,” “Cabaret” and “The Money Song” and the show plays May 1 – July 26.

It’s clear that Diversionary, The Welk and Broadway San Diego are giving San Diegans great seasons to enjoy, but they aren’t the only ones.

San Diego Theatres’ Balboa Theatre and Civic Theatre have hosted many of the world’s greatest talents in fields of opera, classical music, orchestras, dance, comedians, contemporary music, and Broadway.

The Civic Theatre’s primary producers and presenters include the San Diego Opera, Broadway San Diego, La Jolla Music Society and California Ballet.

The historic Balboa Theatre originally opened in 1924 as a vaudeville house. Today the theatre has become the performing home for the nationally recognized Mainly Mozart Summer Festival and the locally treasured Classics 4 Kids. California Ballet has expanded its collaborations at the Balboa, and the San Diego Men’s Chorus has produced numerous concert celebrations. The Balboa Theatre is also hosting a full series of musical performers including Patti Smith, Jan. 31.

George Benson

Two of San Diego’s theater treasures, The Old Globe and the La Jolla Playhouse have some exciting offerings for 2015.

The Old Globe starts the season Jan. 24 with Murder for Two, an irrepressibly wacky tour-de-force musical that NY1 dubbed “a must-see 90-minute jolt of caffeinated creativity!”

This is followed by the West Coast premiere of The Twenty-seventh Man by award-winning novelist Nathan Englander. Set in a Soviet prison in 1952, Time Out New York called The Twenty-seventh Man “exquisite – as chilling and haunted as a ghost story.” The Twenty-seventh Man plays Feb. 14 through March 15.

Up next at the La Jolla Playhouse is The Darrell Hammond Project, Jan. 31 through March 8, which is based on Hammond’s acclaimed memoir, God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F*cked: Tales of Stand-Up, Saturday Night Live and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem, and invites the audience on a heartbreaking and hilarious journey inside the life and mind of an American comic genius.

La Jolla Playhouse’s 2015/16 season includes the rock-infused world-premiere musical Come from Away and Up Here, a world-premiere musical created by the husband-and-wife composing team of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Up Here goes where no musical has gone before, bringing to life the circus of judgmental, neurotic, ever-changing characters that rule an ordinary man’s mind. Run dates for La Jolla Playhouse’s 2015/16 season have yet to be confirmed.

Alex Hoeffler and Austin Vaccaro in Sons of the Prophet at the Cygnet Thatre, Jan. 15–Feb. 15 | Photo: Daren Scott

San Diego’s regional theaters also provide a richness of talent and shows that give audiences even greater choices in 2015. Among the highlights include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at Chula Vista’s OnStage Playhouse, Jan. 16 through Feb. 14, and Steel Magnolia’s at Vista’s Broadway Theatre, Jan. 16 through Feb. 8.

For more world, California and San Diego premieres, check out the listings of San Diego theaters and their line-ups on page 16 of this issue.

All of them have something for everyone, whether it’s a show from the creators of Frozen, a Tony Award winning blockbuster or a season of original pieces with a promised New York opening included.

Sure, a trip to New York City is a great adventure, but why not spend that cash on a great hotel room, delicious dinner and a Broadway caliber show right here in San Diego?



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Posted by on Jan 8, 2015. Filed under Entertainment Feature, Entertainment News, Section 4A. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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