Book of Mormon | Photo: Joan Marcus

LGBT Weekly previews a selection of shows from San Diego’s vibrant new theater season

San Diego can boast about its theater scene like no other city in America.

Sure Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver and Chicago have vibrant exciting theater offerings, but none of them can compete with how many world, U.S. and West Coast premieres we have and original shows San Diego takes to Broadway.

The Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse regularly produce theater that heads out to the East Coast. Ion and Lamb’s Players Theatre have also tossed their hat into that ring producing original pieces bringing recognition to our city.

That being said, this theater season will be no exception to the rule with many world, U.S and West Coast premieres popping up in many of our most notable theaters.

The La Jolla Playhouse responsible for the hit Jersey Boys and Thoroughly Modern Millie will be bringing three world premiere plays: Hollywood by Joe Dipietro (May/June), Junk: The Golden Age Of Debt by Ayad Akhtar (July/August) and The Last Tiger In Haiti by Jeff Augustin (June/July), and a world premiere musical: Miss You Like Hell with book and lyrics by Quiara Alegría Hudes and music and lyrics by Erin McKeown to the stage this season (October/November).

When the Rain Stops Falling | Photo: Ken Jacques

The Old Globe will also have two world premiere plays: The Metromaniacs (Jan. 30-March 6) by David Ives and The Last Match (Feb. 13-March 13) by Anna Ziegler and the musical Rain (March 24-May 1) with book by Sybille Pearson and music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa, based on the short story by W. Somerset Maugham.

The San Diego Rep will finish out its 2015/2016 season starting with Oscar winning writer John Patrick Shanely’s (Moonstruck) romantic comedy Outside Mullingar (Jan. 21-Feb. 14). That will be followed by D.W. Jacobs’ one man show R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (And Mystery) Of The Universe (March 10-April 3) and they will end their season with Gina Gionfriddo’s comedy Rapture, Blister Burn (April 21-May 15).

Lamb’s Players will change things up this season by co-producing a production of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf with Intrepid Theatre (Quality Of Life, End Of The Rainbow). The show will star two of Lamb’s Players artistic directors, Robert and Deborah Smyth, who also happen to be husband and wife and will be presented Feb. 4-March 6, downtown at The Horton Grand Theatre. They have also brought back the tried and true favorite The Nerd (Now extended through Feb. 21) starring David Heath who has done the show each time Lamb’s has produced it. Rounding out the season will be a production of The Miracle Worker (March 4-April 10) and the world premiere of Dinner With Marlene (April 22-May 29) by San Diego playwright Anne-Charlotte Harvey.

The Cygnet Theatre, responsible for out-of-the-box hit’s like Pageant, Cabaret, It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play and Company will finish out this season with two plays: When The Rain Stops Falling (Jan. 14-Feb. 14) by Andrew Bovell and Stupid F**cking Bird by Aaron Posner (May 19-June 19) and two musicals: Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show (March 10-May 1) with book, music and lyrics by Richard O’Brien. Artistic Director Sean Murray returns to the role of the sweet transvestite Frank N. Furter, a role he played 25 years ago at The San Diego Rep. And lastly, the Stephen Sondheim/Jules Stein musical Gypsy (July 14-Sept. 4). Linda Libby will revisit the iconic role of Mama Rose. Libby played the role in 2011 at The Ion Theatre winning her a San Diego Critics Award.

North Coast Repertory (NCRT) under the artistic direction of David Ellenstein is never afraid to bring world, U.S. and West Coast premieres to its stage in Solana Beach. Most seasons have at least a few premieres along with some classic standards. This year NCRT will have four premieres in its lineup.

They started off the New Year with the world premiere of Sherlock Holmes And The Adventure Of The Great Nome Gold Rush (Jan. 13-Feb. 14) by Joseph Vass. They will follow that with the following premieres: Now You See It (Feb. 24-March 20) by Georges Feydeau – Translated by Kenneth McLeish (U.S. premiere), Way Downriver (April 13-May 8), an adaptation of William Faulkner’s Old Man by Edward Morgan (West Coast premiere), Hedda Gabler (June 1-26) by Henrik Ibsen – translation by San Diegan Anne-Charlotte Harvey – (world premiere translation).

Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Great Nome Gold Rush

NCRT round out their season with a roof-raising musical tribute to the black musicians of the ‘20s and ‘30s – Ain’t Misbehavin’ (July 13-Aug. 7) by Richard Maltby Jr. and Murray Horwitz.

Intrepid Theatre originally produced out of Encinitas, but lately has been seen at the Lyceum and will now co produce Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf (Feb. 4-March 6) with Coronado’s Lamb’s Players Theatre, downtown at The Horton Grand Theatre. This small, struggling theater may be homeless at the moment but they have produced some of San Diego’s finest theater in the last few years. This past year both Quality Of Life and End of the Rainbow played to sold-out crowds and both received glowing reviews. Their current season will continue with Shakespeare’s Titus And Andronicus which will run in rep with The Real Inspector Hound and Black Comedy (Feb. 20-March 20) and the musical Woody Guthrie’s American Song (June 30-July 31).

Moxie Theatre, responsible for two premieres last year (Orange Julius, The Curious Case Of The Watson Intelligence) will start this year off with two West Coast premieres: Brownsville Song (B-Side For Tray) (Jan. 31-Feb. 28) by Kimber Lee and Our Lady Of Kibeho (May 1-May 29) by Katori Hall, followed by the campy musical Ruthless! The Musical, (July 10-Aug. 7), with book and lyrics by Joel Paley and music by Marvin Laird. This show will be co-directed by Leigh Scarritt and Delicia Sonnenberg.

Moxie Theatre, in their own words, has dedicated this season to break the mold and explore women in all their rich diversity. Women as playwrights. Women of color. Women of a certain age. Women of God. Queer women. Women who mean business.

Broadway San Diego may not be able to give us premieres but they can give us amazing touring shows direct from Broadway. This past month San Diegans were given the chance to see the Broadway musical If/Then. The show starred Idina Menzel (Wicked/Rent), Anthony Rapp (Rent), James Snyder (Cry Baby) and LaChanze (The Color Purple/Once On This Island) all from the original Broadway cast.

The remaining shows Broadway San Diego will offer are the Broadway smash Book Of Mormon (Feb.23-March 6). This show sold out when it was here last year and is sure to do the same this year. Get your tickets now to the show that has been hailed as the best musical of this century; the new version of The Wizard of Oz (March 15-20) with new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber (Evita/Jesus Christ Superstar), Disney’s Newsies (May 31-June 5), and ending with Beautiful-The Carole King Musical (Aug.2-7) that won numerous Tony Awards and took Broadway by storm.

The Metromaniacs | Photo: Scott Suchman

Ion Theatre’s last season offerings were all original world premieres. One of them, Sea Of Souls, made its way Off Broadway this past year. This season Ion will feature The Jacksonian (Feb/March) by Beth Henley, Jesus Hates Me (April/May) by Wayne Lemon, Lydia (June/July) by Octavio Solis, Airline Highway (July/August) by Lisa D’Amour, Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom (September/October) by Jennifer Haley and closing the season with Larry Kramer’s Tony Award winning play The Normal Heart (November/December).

For their 10th anniversary, San Diego Musical Theatre, will present three epic Tony Award winning Broadway musicals. Staged in the historical Spreckels Theatre in downtown San Diego will be Ragtime (Feb. 5-21), the sweeping musical portrait of early 20th century America; the celebration of Broadway that is 42nd Street (May 27-June 12) and Mel Brooks’ The Producers (Sept. 23-Oct. 9) which sets the standard for modern, outrageous, in-your-face humor.

Highlights at San Diego Theatre’s historic Balboa Theatre include The Realish Housewives of San Diego (Feb. 2-7). This production will be customized for San Diego, bringing hometown reality to the outlandish parody performance. Abba Mania, the world’s most successful touring ABBA show appears March 5 and California Ballet Company presents Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet onstage at the Balboa Theatre March 12-13. An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin (April 16) promises to be an unforgettable night of fun and laughter. And lastly, the Balboa Theatre is also hosting a series of musical performers including RAIN a Tribute to The Beatles (March 29-April 3) and the legendary Elvis Costello (April 7).

There are certainly enough premieres and award winning shows to keep San Diegans, their families and vacationers busy and entertained. So do yourself a favor, see these shows before they head to New York City.

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Posted by on Jan 21, 2016. Filed under Entertainment Feature, Entertainment News, Section 4A, Top Highlights. 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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