San Diego Theatre Preview: Winter 2013

Winter San Diego Theatre - San Diego Opera - Daughter of the Regiment

As temperatures cool outdoors, creativity heats up in theatres across San Diego. Check out the grandest form of all theatre with the beautiful and bold productions at the San Diego Opera, or get an intimate view into the theater workshopping process with La Jolla Playhouse’s DNA New Work Series. Check out the San Diego Theatre Preview below for more Winter 2013 must-see shows.

San Diego Opera – The Daughter of the Regiment

Winter San Diego Theatre - San Diego Opera - Daughter of the Regiment

San Diego Opera kicks off an exhilarating season with Donizetti’s sparkling and hilarious, The Daughter of the Regiment. The story tells of the orphaned French girl, Marie, adopted by a regiment of soldiers in the waning days of World War II. The independent, spunky Mario love Tonio, a peasant, but the Marquise tries to marry her off to a rich Duke. Luckily for Marie, the Marquise is thwarted and Marie is free to marry Tonio. Hear, hear, for opera with a happy ending!

Where: San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 3rd Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 (map)
When: January 26 – February 3, 2013
Cost: $35 – $275
> Find out more about San Diego Opera’s The Daughter of the Regiment

Old Globe Theatre – Pygmalion

Winter San Diego Theatre - Old Globe Theatre - Pygmalion

Old Globe Theatre presents George Bernard Shaw’s most popular modern masterpiece (which Lerner and Loewe adapted as the musical My Fair Lady), Pygmalion. The poor flower-seller Eliza Doolittle is in the right place at the right time, just as speech professor Henry Higgins makes a friendly wager that he can change her accent and pass her off as the epitome of English society. Pygmalion is a funny, touching, unforgettable battle of wits between two of the theatre’s most iconic characters.

Where: 1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego, CA 92101-1696 (map)
When: January 12 – February 17, 2013
Cost: Tickets start at $29
> Find out more about Old Globe Theatre’s Pygmalion

La Jolla Playhouse – DNA New Work Series

Winter San Diego Theatre - La Jolla Playhouse - DNA New Work Series

La Jolla Playhouse announces a new play development initiative, the DNA New Work Series, which will entail a six-week period of workshop productions and readings of new plays and musicals. First up is Chasing the Song, which follows a group of pop songwriters and the changing sounds of music charts in the early 1960’s before the Beatles emerged and transformed the entire music world.

Where: 2910 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037 (map)
When: January 24 – March 3, 2013
Cost: $0-$20
> Find out more about La Jolla Playhouse’s DNA New Work Series

Lamb’s Players Theatre – Pete ‘n Keely

Winter San Diego Theatre - Lamb's Players Theatre - Pete 'n Keely

Lamb’s Players Theatre welcomes Pete ‘n Keely to the stage. The year is 1968 and it’s been a thrilling week of rehearsing at the NBC studios for the live telecast of Pete and Keely Reunion Special. This Off-Broadway hit is packed with classic favorites like, “Besame Mucho,” “Secret Love” and “Fever” as well as great new songs.

Where: 1142 Orange Ave, Coronado CA 92118 (map)
When: January 18-March 3, 2013
Cost: $12-$68
> Find out more about Lamb’s Players Theatre’s Pete ‘n Keely

Cygnet Theatre – Gem of the Ocean

Winter San Diego Theatre - Cygnet Theatre - Gem of the Ocean

For a moving and thought-provoking start to 2013, Cygnet Theatre presents Gem of the Ocean. Gem of the Ocean is chronologically the first of ten plays in August Wilson’s acclaimed Century Cycle examining African-American experience in the 20th century. Citizen Barlow sparks a chain of events that drive a community into turmoil and set him on a journey, guided by 285-year-old Aunt Ester, towards personal redemption.

Where: 4040 Twiggs Street, San Diego, CA 92110 (map)
When: January 24 – February 24, 2013
Cost: $15-$34
> Find out more about Cygnet Theatre’s Gem of the Ocean

> Find more San Diego Theatre Shows


Lights up on Holiday Theatre in San Diego

Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - Old Globe Theatre

This season, houses and storefronts aren’t the only things being decked with holiday lights. Theatre lights are up on a variety of holiday-themed shows around San Diego perfect for the whole family. From that infamous thieving Grinch at the Old Globe Theatre to an evening of Celtic songs with the San Diego Symphony, enjoy a night on the town that is certain to brighten the spirits and warm the hearts this holiday season.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Old Globe Theatre

Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - Old Globe Theatre

Whoville comes alive in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.

Bring the family to Whoville! Back for its 15th incredible year, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is taking over the Old Globe Theatre with family favorite songs, “This Time of Year,” “Santa for a Day” and “Fah Who Doraze,” the delightful carol from the popular animated version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” The Grinch makes it easy to take the whole family to the theatre, with 11:00 AM matinée performances open to all ages, including children under the age of 3 years old. The Globe will also be offering an autism-friendly performance of The Grinch on December 15, 2012 at 10:30 AM.

Dates: November 17 – December 29, 2012
Theatre: The Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego, CA 92101 (map)
Box Office: 619.234.5623
Cost: Tickets start at $24
> Find out more about Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

The Nutcracker at Birch North Park Theater

Nutcracker - San Diego Ballet

The San Diego Ballet performs Tchaikovsky’s beloved “Nutcracker” this holiday season.

See snowflakes, sugar plums and Russian dancers swoop and soar across the Birch North Park Theatre and the Mandeville Center at UCSD in San Diego Ballet’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s beloved Nutcracker. In its 21st year, San Diego Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker is brought to life with over 100 beautifully costumed dancers, directed and choreographed by Robin Sheretz-Morgan and Javier Velasco.

Dates: December 1-2, 2012 (Birch) and December 16 and 21, 2012 (Mandeville)
– Birch North Park Theatre, 2891 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104 (map)
– Mandeville Center at UCSD, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093 (map)
Box Office: 619.294.7378
Cost: $25-$55 (Birch); $20-$50 (Mandeville)
> Find out more about the Nutcracker performance at the Birch North Park Theatre
> Find out more about the Nutcracker performance at the Mandeville Center at UCSD

Festival of Christmas: Christmas on My Mind

Festival of Christmas - Christmas on my Mind - Lamb's Players Theatre

A Festival of Christmas presented by the Lamb’s Players in San Diego.

The Lamb’s Players are bringing back one of Kerry Meads most popular “new” scripts: Christmas on my Mind. A diverse group of travelers finds themselves stranded by an unexpected snowstorm. They all make their way to a cabin in the woods and create a celebration by sharing music and stories. Surprising, fun and refreshing – the performance includes a beautiful blend of original music and traditional favorites.

Dates: November 30 – December 30, 2012
Theatre: Lamb’s Players Theatre, 1142 Orange Ave., Coronado CA 92118 (map)
Box Office: 619.437.6000
Cost: $26-$60
> Find out more about Christmas on my Mind by the Lamb’s Players

WCYG Playhouse of the Air Presents A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play

Christmas Carol Flyer - Cygnet Theater

A Christmas Carol told as a 1940s live radio show at Cygnet Theatre in San Diego.

Cygnet Theatre continues its annual holiday tradition with a new live radio play. Be a part of the live studio audience as the WCYG Players bring a unique presentation of the classic story, A Christmas Carol, to life in the style of a 1940s radio show. A treat for the whole family, the show is complete with holiday music, commercials and live sound effects.

Dates: November 23 – December 30, 2012
Theatre: Cygnet Theatre, 4040 Twiggs Street, San Diego, CA 92110 (map)
Box Office: 619.337.1525
Cost: $19-$59
> Find out more about A Christmas Carol at the Cygnet Theatre

A Celtic Celebration with the San Diego Symphony Holiday Pops

Join the San Diego Symphony as they take a visit to the Emerald Isle for a Holiday Pops: Celtic Celebration. With the “luck o’ the Irish” this holiday season, Grammy® Award-winning nine-time all-Ireland fiddle champion Eileen Ivers joins the San Diego Symphony for an evening of festive Irish holiday favorites including “The Holly Tree,” “Don Oiche Ud im Beithil” (“One Night in Bethlehem”), “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing” (in traditional jig time) and “The Wexford Carol” (dating back to the 12th century) along with so many traditional favorites that we’ve come know.

Dates: December 22-23, 2012
Theatre: Copley Symphony Hall, 750 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101 (map)
Box Office: 619.231.3848
Cost: $20-$85
> Find out more about Holiday Pops: Celtic Celebration

> Find more Holiday arts & culture events in San Diego


What Would You Endure for an American Dream?

Hands on a Hardbody Cast - La Jolla Playhouse

This is the inadvertent question asked by the latest La Jolla Playhouse production, Hands on a Hardbody. Based on a 1997 documentary about a group of Texans vying to outlast each other by placing one gloved hand on brand new Nissan truck in hopes of driving off with it, this new American musical engages the audience to ask themselves these questions: What you are willing to do for your dream? Would you stand under the searing Texas sun for days with nine other strangers? Endure sleep deprivation, hallucinations and numbness of limbs for a chance to drive off the lot in a brand new truck?

Hands on a Hard Body Poster

As I sat comfortably in the La Jolla Playhouse’s intimate Mandell Weiss Theater, I knew I wasn’t crazy enough to put myself through that kind of torment, which is what made the premise all the more intriguing. But an alluring premise does not a successful musical make. After all, how do you make a group of people standing around a truck come alive on stage? My curiosity peaked as the first character took the stage.

La Jolla Playhouse - Hand on a Hard Body

Creative force behind Hands on a Hardbody (L-R): Doug Wright, Trey Anastasio, Amanda Green and Benjamin Millepied.

The creative force behind Hands on a Hardbody consists of Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award Winning writer (and Texas native) Doug Wright, music composed by Trey Anastasia (founder of the band Phish), lyrics by Amanda Green (Broadway’s High Fidelity and Bring it On: The Musical) and stage choreography by Benjamin Millepied (Black Swan). The result of their collaboration is nothing short of a vibrantly composed, elegantly choreographed and spirited production.

Hands on a Hardbody Cast - La Jolla Playhouse

(L-R) Jay Armstrong Johnson, Keala Settle, Hunter Foster and Keith Carradine. Photo by Kevin Berne.

I have not seen the original documentary, but after viewing some clips on YouTube, it seems they remain quite true to the real people, down to the mustache of Benny Perkins (played by Hunter Foster) and the headphones of Norma Valverde (played by Keala Settle). The colorful cast of characters each have their own motivation and purpose, but are all driven to the truck by the same force of economic depravity. The truck, symbolizing the American Dream (ironically a Japanese-made Nissan model) is the notable 16th character, which lights up, honks and moves fluidly on the stage with the characters. Each character’s story unfolds through song. The catchy melodies and heart-felt lyrics draw the audience into their struggles. The truck means something different for each person: a one-way ticket to Hollywood; God’s will; or a means for college tuition.

Hands on a Hard Body Cast - La Jolla Playhouse

(L-R) Jay Armstrong Johnson, Allison Case and Hunter Foster. Photo by Kevin Berne.

I found myself rooting for my favorite character, just as an observer from grand stand at the Texas dealership or the radio listener who followed the 5-day contest must have. One by one, the characters drop off as their hopes for the truck fall away with them, until one victor remains. As the cast takes the stage one last time for the final score, their collective hopes rise again, permeating the audience with the enduring message that far exceeds the prize itself: If you love something, keep your hands on it.

The performance on Saturday night ended with a standing ovation from the crowd. My husband and I left the theater, hand-in-hand, reminded and inspired to pursue our lives with a little more heart, and how gel insoles could help us along the way.

La Jolla Playhouse’s world-premiere, commissioned musical Hands on a Hardbody runs through June 17 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre. Book by Doug Wright, lyrics by Amanda Green, music by Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green, directed by Neil Pepe, musical staging by Benjamin Millepied.

So tell us in the comments below, would you be willing to endure five days under the scorching sun for the chance to take home your dream…a new car?