Saturday, June 1, 2013

Variety spices theatrical life in exciting San Diego playhouses


Three distinctly different venues -- each with its strong suits and personality -- offer San Diego theater lovers a wealth of wonderful play-going. On tap are humor, emotion, revivals, romance, new work, classics,    comedy -- in works that challenge the status quo and offer enticing food for thought.
In this lively theater town, it's possible to see almost a new play a week -- at least two or three per month -- beginning with the summer previews and extending through next spring.
We begin with Cygnet.
Like the old-fashioned poem for the bride's attire, Cygnet Theatre's new season has something old, something new, something borrowed, and, well, yes, something blue, if you count the sky framing the classic old red building that welcomes you to the heart of Old Town. (By intermission, you'll be star-gazing, but before opening curtain, it's a dazzling blue-sky-and-sun place to savor day's end.)
Cygnet's recently opened patio offers a pleasant atmosphere before the play
 or here during intermission of "Shakespeare's R&J," energetic and intriguing.
Cygnet's eleventh season in its charming, intimate venue promises to "startle the soul and celebrate what makes us human," according to artistic director Sean Murray, also an accomplished actor. Start your theatrical adventure by sipping a cocktail or coffee on the spacious, newly opened patio.
From an Oscar Wilde classic to a popular Christmas tradition, a Sondheim musical, Tom Stoppard extravaganza and Cygnet's popular holiday show, the line-up will entertain, stimulate and amuse. I can't wait for to see what Cygnet does with one of my favorite Sondheim works, "Company" opening July 5. A San Diego premiere, "Maple and Vine," sounds delightful, opening in January, a comic homage to the 1950s.
We've seen a bonanza of spectacular productions at Cygnet, many of them with Murray either directing or starring.  From "Sweeney Todd" to "Cabaret," "Man  of LaMancha," "Private Lives" and recently "Assassins" and a contemporary take on "Romeo and Juliet," Cygnet delivers, and never disappoints.
Consider Cygnet's theater tour to Dublin and London this autumn. Tour price of $4,495 includes air across the pond and between Dublin and London, eight nights in hotels, several dinners, six productions (three in each grand city) and visits to classic museums, theaters, cathedrals and a highlight trip to the original Old Globe. Why not? or
for season tickets or to book the theater tour.
 *  *  *
  On the northwest side of town, at LaJolla Playhouse, it's time for experiments, new work and engaging treats for the play-passionate aficionado.
La Jolla Playhouse is at once stately and contemporary,
befitting its varied and wide-ranging new season.
With both "Chaplin" and "Hands on a Hard Body" nominated for Tony Awards this year, San Diegans and arts patrons can proudly say: "we saw it here and we saw it first!" The LJP is justifiably proud of its exciting record: sending more shows to Broadway than any other venue. In our five years of being regulars here, we've met many sophisticated and well traveled fellow theater lovers. Because of this discerning and educated clientele, LJP is a fine proving ground to determine if a play might succeed on the Great White Way.
The tradition of novelty and challenge continues at the gorgeous, state-of-the-art complex with the recently opened "His Girl Friday," in its west coast premiere.  , The vintage movie with Cary Grant and
Rosalind Russell is one of my favorites, a fast-paced tale of reporters in 1939 Chicago. The production, directed by Christopher Ashley, promises romance, lively banter and "velocity, plenty of it," says Ashley, the Playhouse's artistic director. We'll be there next week to watch reporter Hildy Johnson go after one last scoop, breaking a big story, and falling in love again (with her ex-husband!) Sheer fun.
"Tribes" takes a savage, funny look at family dynamics, a romantic tale with a twist as a young deaf man from a hearing family falls in love. The talented Moises Kaufman directs "The Tallest Tree in the Forest" in autumn, based on the life of famed vocalist-actor and controversial activist Paul Robeson.
And there's more: "Sideways" is coming! Hooray. A favorite novel turned acclaimed movie weaves the story of male friendship, change, relationships and romance set in lovely Santa Barbara wine country.
And "Sideshow" looks captivating -- the story of talented conjoined twins and the complexity of life for Daisy and Violet.  "The Who and The What" is another world premiere, exploring tradition and contemporary life. The playwright is award winner Ayad Akhtar. Tempted? Treat yourself and a pal.
Both seasons offer package deals. There's no better present to yourself or gift to a friend than theater!

COMING WEDNESDAY:   San Diego Repertory Theatre's
 Lipinsky Family Jewish Arts Festival is in full and fun swing, with enthusiastic attendance in the Lyceum Theatre.  This week's fabulous staged reading about the life of activist Abbie Hoffman was written with tenderness and emotion by the gifted Herbert Siguenza, who also plays the lead in "Steal Heaven."  A klezmer summit is on tap this Monday featuring "Jews in Jazz" with renowned jazz cellist Fred Katz, now in his 90s and still going strong.
Note: If you missed Siguenza's inspired "Steal Heaven" you have another chance Tuesday, June 11, at North Coast Repetory Theatre. This delightful, intimate venue recently presented a sold out "Odd Couple" and in the wings are "Leonard Nimoy's Vincent" about the life of Van Gogh, and A.R. Gurney's always moving "Love Letters.
Wednesday we'll preview SD Rep's new season where yet more treats await!
Remember to explore, learn and live and check out our postings Wednesdays and Saturdays at

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