Season Announcements for Theater and Music in San Diegoby Brie Stimson May 30, 2017
North Coast Repertory Theatre
North Coast Rep will open its 36th season September 6 with Neil Simon’s seductively hilarious “Last of the Red Hot Lovers” about a middle aged “loser in love” who attempts to join the sexual revolution before it’s too late. The comedy is followed by an adaptation of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” That story of Depression-era friendship and California’s American Dream will likely still resonate with a 2017 audience. Looking ahead to the winter holiday season, the improvised “Dickens Unscripted” and the “Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold,” which is described as “CSI: Bethlehem,” returns to the Solana Beach theater.
The theater starts off 2018 with another literary adaptation, this time of “Around the World in 80 Days,” with five actors portraying 42 characters who travel from smoggy London to elephants and runaway trains in India to the Wild West just beyond San Francisco. Drama “This Random World,” a story of missed connections, comedy “How the Other Half Loves” about three different marriages, and the Tony-nominated “The Father” about the ravages of age round out the season through the end of June, 2018.
The last play of the 2017-18 season, “The Soul of Gershwin: The Musical Journey of an American Klezmer,” takes the audience back to turn-of-the-century New York teeming with folk songs, Yiddish theater, cantor chants and opera – all coming together to make up “Our American Songbook.” Music and lyrics are written by George and Ira Gershwin and the show has favorites such as “Embraceable You,” Summertime” and “I Got Rhythm.”
The Old Globe Theatre
San Diego’s resident Shakespeare theater, the Old Globe, is running a four-play summer season that includes a quartet of old favorites on the Balboa Park outdoor stage. The season opens June 11 with the Bard’s history of “Richard II.” the 14th-century ruler whose reckless actions forced him to abdicate the throne for Henry IV. The play stars Robert Sean Leonard of “House” and “Dead Poet’s Society.”
Medieval England gives way to 20th century New York for “Guys and Dolls.” The Broadway gem, written in 1950, follows a bet made between Nathan Detroit, who runs an illegal craps game, and gambler Sky Masterson that Masterson can’t get the devout Sarah Brown to have dinner with him in Havana, Cuba. The musical includes famous show tunes such as “Luck Be a Lady,” “A Bushel and a Peck” and “I’ve Never Been in Love Before.”
“Robin Hood!” takes theatergoers back to medieval England where the heroic figure of legend steals from the rich and gives to the poor.
“Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him!”
The summer season finishes in medieval Denmark with one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays: “Hamlet.” The young prince seeks vengeance against the man who usurped his father’s crown in the Old English tragedy with a high body count. See the Globe’s full 2017-18 season announcements.
“Animal Crackers,” which opens the Cygnet’s 2017-18 season in July, is like the theater version of beach reading. Witty and filled with puns and gags, the play originally ran on Broadway in 1928 and starred four of the Marx Brothers. After a celebrated painting is stolen from a fancy house party, the guests go to absurd (and hilarious) lengths to catch the culprit.
The drama “The Effect of Gamma-Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” runs the month of September and tells the story of a shy young girl who finds her way out of the cloud of her dysfunctional family dynamic. Casey, an Elvis impersonator, loses his job right before finding out his wife is pregnant in “The Legend of Georgia McBride.” When his club brings in a drag act his problem is solved.
During the holidays, the Cygnet’s musical adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” returns just in time to remind you that a selfish life will lead to a lot of ghosts haunting you – and that it’s never too late to change. “The Last Wife,” opening at the first of the year is a contemporary re-imagining of the last wife of Henry VIII, Katherine Parr, who is sometimes known as “the one to survive.” Devout and radical, nurturing and intellectual, her relationship with the aging and sick tyrant king is as compelling as it is fraught.
Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” is a comedy that shows the tangled web of romance between a Swedish actress, her two lovers and their wives during a weekend in the country. The play features the famous song “Send in the Clowns.” The season closes in May 2018, with “The Wind and the Breeze” about the undisputed emcee king of Rockford, Illinois, who stakes out an early spot for the 4th of July fireworks in the dead of winter, but is soon challenged by his mentees into a battle he can’t win.
La Jolla Playhouse
Budget cuts and reconfigurations of the UC San Diego theater program hasn’t stopped the La Jolla Playhouse from putting up a new season with a bevy of independent temptations beginning with the extended “Escape to Margaritaville,” with music and lyrics by Jimmy Buffett. The story is a about a part-time singer/bartender who gets his too-sure world rocked by a beautiful career-minded tourist. “At the Old Place” tells the story of a 40-something literature professor who returns to her hometown. The black comedy “Kill Local” is about what can go wrong in the career of an uninspired assassin. “Wild Goose Dreams,” in September, follows the unlikely romance of a North Korean defector and a lonely South Korean father. “The Donna Summer Musical,” on stage in November and December, chronicles the life of the undisputed queen of disco. The season finishes in February with “The Cake,” which follows a woman who travels back to North Carolina to marry her partner, forcing her small town to confront some of their deeply held beliefs.
San Diego Symphony
The Symphony starts its 2017-18 season without their esteemed conductor Jahja Ling, who was with the group for 14 seasons and helmed his last show here in May. A glance at their lineup shows they are doing more than enough to make up for his absence. Before the season officially starts, the Symphony will continue their popular Bayside Summer Nights, formerly dubbed Summer Pops. Bayside Summer Nights opens on June 30 with Star Spangled Pops, then Wynonna Judd helps celebrate Independence Day with “America’s Birthday With Wynonna.” Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, Leslie Odom, Jr. of “Hamilton” fame, Tony Bennett and Air Supply round out July’s celebrity talent. The Symphony will finish off the month with the opening of Thursday night Jazz, Hooray for Hollywood and live accompaniment to “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” Singer-Songwriter Boz Scaggs returns at the beginning of August, followed by bossa-nova master Sergio Mendes and Latin Jazz Masters on August 10. On August 11 and 12, the symphony will accompany showings of “E.T.” and “La La Land.” “Africa’s Premier Diva” Angelique Kidjo, a Broadway concert featuring “Fiddler on the Roof,” Bolero on the Bay, John Beasley Presents Monk’Easta for the closing of Thursday Night Jazz, Amos Lee, the Commodores, Ozomatli and the 1812 Tchaikovsky Spectacular on Labor Day Weekend close out the summer season. View the Symphony’s full 2017-2018.
La Jolla Music Society
La Jolla Music Society’s annual SummerFest returns this August with more than a dozen performances. The festival opens with a bang August 4 when fiddlers and pianists have a classic faceoff for “Fiddles vs. Pianos.” The next evening, twin sisters and dual piano sensations Christine and Michelle Naughton play an evening of Chopin, Dvorak and Lutoslawski. Finnish pianist Olli Mustonen entertains on Aug. 6 with Beethoven and his own music. A quartet from Hungary continues the European theme with music from Liszt, Kodaly and Bartok the Aug. 8. Three quintets of Beethoven, Dvorak and the West Coast premiere of Xiaogang Ye’s Gardenia for Pipa and String Quartet; “Celebrating Strings,” which features the music of Spohr, Kodaly and Mendelssohn; and the 40th anniversary of the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson piano Trio rounds out the second week of performances. The series picks back up on Aug. 15, 16 and 18 with Beethoven’s violin sonatas. The Regina Carter Quartet swings in August 19 with an evening of jazz violin and Aug. 20 “Summer Serenades” will relax even the most tense listeners with strings, piano and winds playing Britten, Elgar and Dvorak. An evening of Mozart, cellist Alisa Weilerstein and the festival’s finale with maestro David Zinman conducting an all-star SummerFest chamber orchestra playing Stravinsky, Haydn and Beethoven will bring the harmonious festival to a close.
San Diego Opera
San Diego Opera opens their 2017-18 season in October with the “Pirates of Penzance” – Captain Jack Sparrow for the Gilbert and Sullivan set. The comic opera follows young pirate-in-training Frederick who is classically caught between his girlfriend and his job. “As One,” the first in the Opera’s Detour Series, shows the journey of a transgender woman finding herself. The chamber opera will run three times in November at the Kroc Center. At the Lyceum Stage in February, “Maria de Buenos Aires” is about an Argentinian prostitute who returns to haunt the streets after her death. The Opera returns to the Civic Theatre with Puccini’s “Turandot” about an independent Chinese princess of fables who proposes riddles to her potential suitors – with dire consequences for a wrong answer.
In “Florencia en el Amazonas,” a famous opera singer returns to her home in the Amazon to perform. She and other travelers board a steamboat and take a magical journey down the river where the line between fantasy and reality blurs. The regular season and the Detour series finish next May with “One Amazing Night” at the Balboa Theatre. International opera stars Lise Lindstrom and Rene Barbera perform famous arias with the San Diego Symphony.