The Doors Stay Open: Lamb’s Players Theatre Celebrates 25 Years of Being “A Jewel in the Crown City”by Brie Stimson November 28, 2018
“What an amazing privilege to do live theater in this day and age,” the artistic director for the Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado, Robert Smyth, tells me during our interview.
After the holidays, Lambs has a full spectrum of enticing offerings to start the 2019 season off right.
“A Jewel in the Crown City,” a cabaret show celebrating Lamb’s 25 years in Coronado, will open on Jan. 11. The show was supposed to run last summer, but the musical “Once” was so popular it was extended and ran for 16 weeks, so they moved “A Jewel in the Crown City” to January. “It’s kind of a super cabaret that looks at a lot of the work that we’ve done over the 25 years and uses music to kind of be the marker for that,” Robert says.
Next “Chaps,” about a cowboy singing group at the BBC during World War II, will open March 1. The Tex Riley Radio Roundup is coming to London to perform on the radio and for the troops, but “only their manager gets through, a young woman, because of a bombing raid, and so all the guys at BBC kind of have to pretend to be Tex Riley Radio Roundup. So it’s funny, but it’s also an interesting look at that period in time and it’s got cowboy music in it so it’s kind of different from stuff you see nowadays,” he says.
The West Coast premiere of “Babette’s Feast” will open on May 3. The play is based on Isak Dineson’s 1950 short novel that was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1987. “It’s about a woman who’s given refuge,” Robert says. The woman leaves France for Denmark and moves into a strict religious community. “She has a friend in Paris who every year buys a lottery ticket for her and she wins the lottery so instead of taking her money and going somewhere else, she puts on a big feast as a thank you for this community. But this community is so strict that it feels like they can’t appreciate what’s happening, so they have to deny what is being served to them until it becomes almost funny,” Robert says. “There’s kind of an understanding of what grace is and what gratitude is because of someone else who is invited to that dinner that wasn’t expected to be there – a general who is kind of passing through realizes the amazing food that they’re being served. And you discover that this woman used to be one of the leading chefs in Paris.”
Just in time for summer, Lamb’s long running hit “Mixtape” will open in Coronado for the first time on June 21. Lamb’s produced the show to sold-out audiences at the Horton Grand Theatre several years ago. The show is a nostalgic look at the 80s from politics to music to movies. Think: “I want my MTV!” For anyone who remembers the 80s or wants to remember the 80s, it should be evocative of a simpler time of cordful phones, teased hair and shoulder pads.
Lastly next season, Lamb’s will produce “Ring Around the Moon” in October. Playwright Christopher Fry adapts Jean Anouih’s classic “Invitation to the Castle” for a “delightful romantic adventure” about love and money.
Lamb’s has (just like other theaters) been trying to entice younger audiences to the theater, and Robert says their efforts are paying off. “‘Once’ was fabulous for that. We had tons of younger people coming in and we’re getting younger people to even become season ticket holders, which is a big move that’s pretty rare and our Under 35 club has like quadrupled in size. So we’re pleased with all of that. I think it’s partly the way we do the marketing and partly the material that we’re putting on.” He says he was surprised by how many young people came to see their musical version of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” at the end of season 18.
Aside from their 25th anniversary milestone in Coronado, their touring group starting in 1971 and they spent 17 years in National City, starting in 1978. When I ask him about how he feels about Lamb’s prospects he says modestly, “the doors stay open.” That’s an understatement.
For more information on season 19 go to lambsplayers.org/shows.