Sunday, January 13, 2013

The play’s the thing.

Cookie and pups enjoy the Natural Stage
Based in San Diego until Montana has the good sense to warm, we are thrilled that we can play outdoors in only a light wrap -- and see at least one new play per week in San Diego’s burgeoning theater scene.  Life here combines our two greatest passions:  the natural world and the world on the formal stage.
In the past couple years we’ve seen several world premieres and a half-dozen Broadway bound productions.  Besides “Memphis,” “The Jersey Boys,” and “The Book of Mormon,” we saw a brilliant play, “Restoration,” by Claudia Shear (of “Dirty Blonde” Tony winning fame), “Bonnie and Clyde” about the infamous  outlaws, and “Hands on a Hard Body,” a touching show about a marathon to win a car; the contestants must keep at least one hand on the car.
The freeways north of us, near Los Angeles, had snow earlier in the week but we are snug in 50-degree weather here in San Diego.
Keller is still a working stiff and Cookie has writing, gym and teaching obligations, but we make a weekly ritual of at least one live theatrical outing and we enjoy nature’s great performance with daily sunset treks.  There, in vistas up and down the coast, long loved by native son Keller, we plot the next couple days’ activities.  Yesterday, we saw the green flash and the outlines of the islands of San Clemente and Catalina.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Sunday’s theatrical performance was in a gorgeous, restored 1929 theater and featured a world premiere by a brilliant young playwright who also stars in the production (more about Hershey Felder and “An American Story” next week.)   The Golden Globes and “Downton Abbey” lured us home after a quick sunset post-matinee stop.
We have a bird’s eye view of surfers and seals, exotic birds, fishing boats, troop transports, cruise ships and all the latest military aircraft the world has to offer. Plus world class theater and some of the country’s finest restaurants – all minutes away.
The next weeks of plays and play include a return to Los Angeles to the Walt Disney Concert Hall (reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House), and the nearby Ahmanson Theater. We’ll hear a concert and see “Backbeat,” a musical about the launching of the Beatles’ career.  The gorgeous Omni has become a favorite hotel, is dog friendly (complete with treats) and is within walking distance of the theaters.  It also has a fabulous restaurant and delicious sushi. We also have a standing overnight invitation at a private Los Angeles home – a perk from Keller’s near 40-year friendship with a fellow diver-sailor-surfer from their long ago university days.   On Martin Luther King Monday, we’ll visit a dog-friendly Harrah’s Hotel for a little foray in the casino; shall we say play within the play?
Keller at sunset dreams about surfing.
We have some splendid choral concerts in early February, and later in the month, we’ll hit the road for the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, which co-incidentally is scheduled with the ninth annual Oregon Chocolate Festival. Nothing like gilding the lily.   We’ll stay in the historic and now pup-friendly Ashland Springs Hotel, about which we’ll write (we remember when it was the decrepit but much loved Marc Anthony Hotel.)  And we will see five days of plays and enjoy the Greek, Thai, English, Italian and French food that has distinguished this little gem of a town since Angus Bowmer set up a boxing ring and staged the first play more than 70 years ago.

Until then, have a chocolate, pet a pup, savor a sunset, play. And see a play.

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