By Pat Launer
Though this week has left us bereft and agape,
Some theater may help you to find some escape.
Consider this: The Boys are back
And so’s that un-dead sucker, Drac .
Caliban is acting tribal…
Or get your solace from The Bible.
It’s been a very difficult and harrowing week for everyone in San Diego , in the wake (or the midst) of the raging wildfires. With all the fear and anguish we’ve all been suffering, you might not think that this is the time to go to the theater. But Cygnet Theater artistic director Sean Murray makes a very heartfelt, compelling and articulate argument for why it is:
The reality of living sometimes comes in without knocking. These fires barged into all of our lives without any warning and have left us all stunned. Or worse . It just didn’t seem like a time for theatre these past few days and so we canceled some performances… But it is the impulse to pull together and BE together that is the strongest during trying times like this. We plan to proceed with the two beautiful productions we have up (The Turn of the Screw and St. Nicholas ) . It is so important to look these catastrophes hard in the face and defy them by moving on and living life full on. The two plays that are up on our stage right now are about telling stories, and we have had so much first-hand storytelling since these fires erupted. Stories about what happened to us, stories about what happened to our friends, stories about our neighborhoods. It’s what we do as humans.
Bill and I are evacuees ourselves. We live on the top of our beloved Palomar Mountain and are still awaiting any news at all as to whether our home is still there or not. News has been good so far. Hopeful. But we all know that the winds can do erratic things to the fires, and events can change at a moment’s notice. So we are trying to be calm and just wait. So we wait. We certainly know what people are going through, we are part of the story. We feel for our community.
At this time it is easy for us to feel that perhaps theatre is not essential in times like these, but we are so wrong to think this. Theatre is the perfect way to come together as a community. The perfect thing to offer much needed distraction from an overwhelming barrage of disaster. The art of theatre IS to celebrate community itself. …Don’t let life control you, get back to it and take control of it.
Big Boys Don’t Cry
THE SHOW: Jersey Boys, the rags-to-riches story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, has returned to its birthplace, San Diego . The mega-hit musical, directed by 2-Time Tony-winner Des McAnuff (Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice ; Music by Bob Gaudio , Lyrics by Bob Crewe), went on from the La Jolla Playhouse to win four Tony Awards on Broadway in 2006, including Best Musical. The show continues setting weekly box office records in New York . This touring company is one of four JB productions (one is set to open soon in Las Vegas, where the stakes are high but the success of the show is a pretty sure bet). And watch for a movie version, coming to a theater near you….
THE STORY: Guys singing on a street corner. Jersey guys. Tough. Italian. Petty crime turns into bigger gambits later (at least for one of the ‘Boys’). There’s jail time, and a succession of forgettable group-names and configurations, until Joe Pesci brings young Francis Castelluccio into the mix, and a sound is born. The Frankie Valli falsetto soars and the hits keep coming, once ace songwriter Bob Gaudio joins Valli , gambler/thug Tommy DeVito and neat-freak Nick Massi to form The Four Seasons. They rise, they marry, they tour, they have affairs, they hit the heights, they fall. They rise again. They split, but reunite to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1990). Al l told, they recorded 19 top-ten songs and sold over 100 million records worldwide. The story is relayed in Seasons (starting with Spring , and ending, aptly, with the Fall) and from each guy’s perspective; each, of course, thinks he has the ‘real story.’
THE PLAYERS/THE PRODUCTION: The show is absolutely foolproof. Not only is it a juicy story, featuring crime, prison, Mafiosi, love, death, sex, lies, betrayal and loyalty, the drama is all wrapped up in terrific pop/rock songs that not only defined the flip-side of an era (this was the blue-collar crowd, as opposed to the middle-class hippie stoners) but have become ingrained in the American DNA. Once “Sherry” is sung (50 minutes into the musical), the momentum is relentless and the show is irresistible.
San Diegan Steve Gouveia, who started as a musician in the first, La Jolla incarnation of the musical, and has the distinction of being the only performer to appear in every version of the show, told me that whichever cast you see first is the one you love most. Well, I saw the La Jolla cast, and then the New York production (I flew in for the opening). And maybe he’s right, but in my mind, there’s no question that David Noroña , the original Frankie Valli , was by far the best, both vocally and dramatically. Still, his voice just couldn’t hold out (he was in the E.R. the afternoon of the La Jolla opening), and he opted not to go to New York , where John Lloyd Young took over and became the toast of Broadway, snagging a Tony along the way.
This Frankie, Christopher Kale Jones, is fine; he grows on you over the course of the evening. But he’s too tall for Valli (many comments in the smart, excellent script are made about his diminutive size) and he just doesn’t have the falsetto chops. He’s weak in the upper ranges, and only fair in his chest voice. Dramatically, he has the poses but not the deep emotions (though he does the best splits of the three Frankies I’ve seen). So we don’t weep with him when his daughter dies of a drug overdose (for all sad moments, Jones affects a quivering chin) and we aren’t blown away by Frankie’s heart-wrenching solo comeback, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” But we still get swept away by the music. The show, as I said, is foolproof.
San Diegan Deven May is terrific as the swaggering hustler, deVito , who definitely sounds fuhgeddaboudit Jersey . Erich Bergen brings a kind of cool, understated intelligence to the under-educated but worldly Gaudio , and Gouveia is adorable as Massi . He really juices up his big emotional outburst, a hilarious rant about what an inveterate slob his roommate deVito is. Each ‘Boy’ gets at least once big dramatic moment, and they pull ‘ em off with aplomb. John Al tieri underplays the normally way-gay Bob Crewe. Courter Simmons is great as ‘Joey’ Pesci , and Jamie Karen is excellent as Mary Delgado, Valli’s first wife.
This is pretty much the same production we saw at the Playhouse. The all-metal, erector-set construction (set design by Klara Zieglerova ), Roy Lichtenstein-type projections (Michael Clark), the snazzy lighting (Howell Binkley), sound (Steve Canyon Kennedy) and costumes (Jess Goldstein). No downsizing for Des. He wanted the whole enchilada on tour. So though it seems deceptively simple, it’s a 15-truck load-in. The 9-piece band (with May and Gouveia adding their guitar work) sounds superb, even in the cavernous Civic Theatre. Some of the story detail and nuance may be missing. But who’ll notice? The audience is way too busy screaming.
THE LOCATION: Civic Theatre, through November 11
BOTTOM LINE : BEST BET
Al l-Day Sucker
THE SHOW: Dracula, the ultimate Gothic horror story, the one that refuses to die. This adaptation, basedon Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, is by Steven Dietz, whose plays, Fiction, Private Eyes and the harrowing God’s Country have been seen in San Diego . His 1994 Dracula last played at the Globe exactly a decade ago, and this is a far more satisfying production
THE STORY: By now, you know it well. An English solicitor, Jonathan Harker , is called to Transylvania (in Romania ) on business. He reports, in his journal, about strange goings-on, and describes his very odd, charming but bloodless host, Count Dracula. Back home in London , we meet Harker’s fiancée, Mina Murray, and her lovely friend Lucy, who’s being courted by three men. One of them is the Dr. John Seward, who runs the local insane asylum, where he’s studying one especially intriguing patient, Renfield , who has a culinary fondness for living things. Meanwhile, Lucy is getting paler and weaker and having strange nightmares; peculiar red spots appear on her neck. Seward calls in his old teacher, Van Helsing , a specialist from Amsterdam . As Lucy fails and Mina reads Harker’s diary, they start to piece together the vampiric puzzle and together they strive to save Mina’s life. Hint: Success entails a coffin, a Bible, garlic, midnight. You know the drill. But this version digs a little deeper, so to speak. The story focuses on control and the loss or relinquishing thereof, and comments, however slyly, on society’s “rampant complacency,” which is easily exploited by evildoers of any stripe, in any era. Read into that what you will.
THE PLAYERS/THE PRODUCTION: This is , you should pardon the expression, a delicious production. It’s actually very scary. Blood flows. A rat is served up as dinner. A baby is torn apart. Menacing sounds course through the theater, over your head, under your feet. Your hackles (wherever they may be) are repeatedly raised. This one’s not played for camp or humor (though some audience members, perhaps discomfited, persisted in laughing at inappropriate moments). This is serious stuff, played as straight, creepy, chilling drama. And with a crackerjack cast, under the precise direction of Polish-born, L.A.-based Christopher Vened , an expert in mime and physical movement, the production is outstanding. The sound design alone (by UCSD MFA student Chris Luessman ) is spine-tingling, a wild mix of bat-wings and thunderstorms, melodramatic music and howling wolves. The set ( Marty Burnett ) is cold, forbidding stone, with movable walls and three separate playing spaces that include a bedroom with bay window and a cage for the bizarre, crazed, often quite lucid Renfield (marvelously portrayed by Sean Sullivan). The lighting (M. Scott Grabau ) turns from shadowy and obscure to blood-red, and the costumes (Michelle Hunt) are just right. Al l the special effects work masterfully. And the cast is completely up to the task.
The ubiquitous Brenda Dodge is strong and substantial as the sensible Mina, while Christy Yael is wonderfully wide-eyed as Lucy, sumptuously given over to sensuality and the dark side. Christopher Williams makes for a straightforward (if stoically lovesick) Seward, Robert Grossman is appropriately professorial as Van Helsing and Michelle Procopio and Sunny Smith make for bloodthirsty vixens ( aka vampirettes ). Jason Heil doesn’t leave a strong impression as Harker , but he definitely suffers in style while he’s in the Count’s castle. Matt Thompson is a compelling and commanding Dracula. First, there’s his formidable size; he towers over everyone else. Then, there’s the effective use of his sonorous voice. His hoarse, persuasive whisper (“Say what I’m thinking!” “Do what I want you to do!”) is more insidious and terrifying than a scream. His is a Dracula less about sexuality than power and control. It’s a thoroughly alarming, unnerving portrayal. ‘ Tis the season for fear. Miss this Dracula at your own peril.
THE LOCATION: North Coast Repertory Theatre, through November 18
BOTTOM LINE : BEST BET
In the Beginning….
THE SHOW: The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged), another whack-job Creation of those great minimizers with oversized ideas, the Reduced Shakespeare Company (Adam Long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor ). The San Diego Rep has presented their Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) and Al l the Great Books (Abridged), which ran in repertory with The Bible for 10 years in London . The Bible has been floating around since 1995, and what better time for good-natured, ecumenical pan-religion-bashing than now, in our my -god’s-better-than-yours Bible-thumping era?
THE STORY: It’s all those stories you first learned in Sunday school, though some of us stopped at Act I (i.e., the Old Testament). That angry God gives way to a more munificent one in Act II (the New Testament) but the zaniness never abates onstage. And so goes the ridiculous retelling of “the greatest story ever accepted as fact.” Each of the three performers (RSC members, but not the originals/writers of the piece) proudly proffers his source material: rotund and Noah-obsessed Jerry Kernion used the King James Bible; erudite, supercilious keyboard-player Michael Faulkner consulted “Isaac Asimov’s Guide to the Bible.” And ditzy, blond Dominic Conti (who plays most of the females in the Good Book) did his research on a Children’s illustrated version of the Bible, with only happy stories (and we all know they’re few and far between!). By the way, if you fear the wrath of God (or the holy water-pistol), I’d suggest you not walk in late.
THE PLAYERS/THE PRODUCTION: The three players are funny and versatile, and they create multiple characters as well as exhibiting their own idiosyncratic personas. They’re actually most amusing when they’re ad-libbing (they all have impressive improv backgrounds); so, they’re at their best when things go wrong, which is, perhaps how it should be in a Biblical story. Director Sam Woodhouse keeps the action aptly antic and frantic. Speed is everything; it can cover – or at least rush through — a multitude of sins. Puns abound (“What is myrrh, anyway?” one of the Wise Men asks. “It’s the Russian Space Station”).
But alas, there’s nothing in this script that compares to the genius of that survey of Shakespeare’s histories played as a football game. In fact, a lot of the script is pretty silly and lame, some of it freely borrowed from sources as diverse as the Borscht Belt and Mel Brooks movies, not to mention pubescent boys’ locker rooms (“Eve had an Apple and Adam had a Wang” – an outdated reference even if it is about computers). Thankfully, the material is an equal opportunity offender, going after Mormons and pagans as well as Christians, Muslims and Jews. “Why,” asks the booming offstage Voice of God, “do all you fundamentalists have no sense of humor?” Why, indeed. But if there were any fundies in the audience the night I was there, you’d never know it; everyone was laughing uproariously.
Current political concerns get into the act, of course, particularly in the Top 10 Rejected Ten Commandments ( à la Letterman), which include: “Thou Shalt not elect a president of inferior intellect, Thou shalt not take a wide stance in a public restroom, Thou shalt not bankrupt the City Pension Fund, and Thou shalt not pander to a local crowd.” Pander they do, to locals and to the lowest common denominator. There is a faint hint of the intelligence behind the RSC’s madcap creations (“Recite the funniest sections from the Book of Job,” followed by a looong silence), but most of the humor is more below-the-belt than Bible Belt . Oh, and did I mention that there’s audience participation, in which the willing, or the forcibly volunteered (including two critics on opening night) gamely participate in, among other things, imitating Noah’s paired animals to the tune of “Old MacDonald.” Oy vey .
To prepare for the evening’s insanity, you’d do better to brush up on the lyrics of “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog” than the Book of Jeremiah; that Three Dog Night song even merits a reprise. Sadly, two of the three performers can’t sing at all (Michael, the musician, is the sole exception). So when the show ends with a rousing rendition of “That’s Armageddon!” obviously written to the tune of ‘That’s Entertainment,’ it bears absolutely no resemblance to the original melody.
But hey! It’s been a tough week in San Diego . We all could use a little release, a little jab at our beliefs, a little mindless entertainment. And if they take a few potshots at Ann Coulter and Mike Aguirre, God won’t mind.
THE LOCATION: The San Diego Repertory Theatre, through November 11
THE SHOW: Caliban’s Island, a new play by George Weinberg-Harter , conflating Shakespeare’s The Tempest” with TV’s “Gilligan’s Island .” It may sound crazy, but it’s actually been done before, and continues today (a recent blog by L.A. actor Ron Campbell has him playing one of the Tempest clowns, Stephano , in the following way: “all appetite and avarice and not a lot of brains. Think the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island ”).
Though the TV show ran for only three seasons (1964-1967, cancelled at the last minute in favor of “ Gunsmoke ”), it continues to be a reference in movies and TV shows, and boasts one of the most recognizable theme songs in television history (that sea chanty that tells the entire backstory). In fact, it’s been suggested that more Americans know the theme to ‘Gilligan’s Island ’ than know the National Anthem. You test out the theory; I’m busy going to the theater.
Anyway, although Weinberg-Harter trimmed the piece down to 70 manageable minutes, he maintained a good deal of Shakespeare’s memorable lines and supplemented them with some quotes from Robert Browning’s poetic soliloquy, “ Caliban Upon Setebos ,” a reference to the god worshipped by Sycorax , Caliban’s witchy mother, in The Tempest . In this version, which puts Caliban center stage, the ‘monster’ is played as a Maori, with full body tattoos and the tongue-sticking behavior of the Haka , a Maori war dance that features stylized chants, postures and grimaces. These days, the Haka is associated with the Al l Blacks, New Zealand ’s national rugby team, and is performed at the outset of their games. The ending of this new piece, with the whole cast joining Caliban in the Haka (tongue protrusion et al.) had the feel of a ‘play ball!’ free-for-all, as presumably intended.
The production, directed by Sandy Hotchkiss Gullans , works best in its less comic moments – in the hands of formidable and distinguished Tom Haine , quite imposing as Prospero (something like the Professor of the SS Minnow on that fateful 3-hour tour). He speaks his lines with majesty, clarity and conviction. As Caliban , Walter Murray looks marvelous in his bare-chested, grass skirted savagery, complemented by the provocative tattoos and facial contortions. His anger is palpable, as is his resentment at having his home turf invaded. The rest of the cast plays pretty much for broad comedy (and caricature), including director Gullans as the spritely Ariel (modeled on the ’Gilligan’ movie star Ginger), who makes a costume-change-a-minute (clothes by Gail West). The young lovers, Shakespeare’s Ferdinand and Miranda, are charmingly portrayed by Harrison Myers (a bumbling Gilligan) and Miranda Halverson (West’s daughter, a sweetly innocent but sensible Mary Ann). Weinberg-Harter and West are extravagantly over-the-top as the brother and sister of the King of Naples, usurpers of Prospero’s crown (transformed into the goofy millionaire Howells, ever-ready for a desert-island cocktail). Their lines derive from several of Shakespeare’s Tempestuous characters, including Sebastian, Antonio, Gonzalo and the clowns Stephano and Trinculo . Jonathan Dunn-Rankin has little to do as King Al onso (a weepy, son-mourning Skipper).
The set (John Murphy) gives the feel of Caliban’s cave on a tropical island, but there is some fussily unnecessary re-draping of set-pieces to ‘change’ the locale between scenes. The use of visible party-favor thunder-makers works well for the storm at the outset. Surprisingly (or maybe not, since it’s been tried before), the two stories parallel fairly well, and Weinberg-Harter’s judicious but extensive cuts to the original still manage to convey the plot quite credibly. The cast is uneven, but the intention is pure fun, if you’re a not-too-serious Bardolator or a devoted Gilligan groupie.
THE LOCATION: Westminster Theatre in Pt. Loma (corner Talbot & Canon), through October 28
NEWS AND VIEWS…
***THEATER CANCELLATIONS THIS WEEKEND***
In deference to those still out of their homes or struggling in the aftermath of the fires, numerous productions have been canceled, postponed or changed. For full, frequently updated information, go to the San Diego Performing Arts League website: www.sandiegoperforms.com/changes.htm .
Here are a few selected scheduling alterations:
La Jolla Playhouse : The Diamonds are Forever Gala honoring Des McAnuff and celebrating the Playhouse’s 60th anniversary, has been postponed to Saturday, December 8th. Supporters will be contacted by phone and mail with details. In the meantime, the event’s elaborate floral arrangements will be donated to evacuation centers and hospitals throughout the county, to help by offering some solace and color. The Playhouse plans to extend 1000 free tickets to first responders and victims.
New Village Arts : Tickets for the Humble Boy performances this Saturday, October 27th at 3 PM & 8 PM and Sunday, October 28th at 2 PM have been reduced to $15 for everyone affected by the San Diego fires. Call the box office for reservations, at 760-433-3245; this offer is available only by phone.
Poway Center for the Performing Arts – will remain dark until further notice. The performance of Katie Couric’s The Brand New Kid , scheduled for Saturday, October. 27, has been canceled.
San Diego City College : The first weekend of performances for Ain’t Misbehavin ’ has been cancelled. The show will open Friday, November 02
San Diego State University : Al l events on campus have been cancelled through the weekend. Additional performances of Zombie Prom have been scheduled through November 4th. Tickets from 10/25-10/27 will be honored. Further info at 619-594-6884 or online at theatre.sdsu.edu
Sledgehammer Theatre : Tijuana Burlesque , scheduled for Oct. 29, is postponed. The performances for Seven Crimes are proceeding as scheduled.
Southwestern College : The campus is closed until Monday, so this weekend’s performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream , set in the 1960s and directed by Katie Rodda, will not occur. Call 619-482-6367 for more information.
Welk Resorts Theatre : The resort has been evacuated, so future performances of Thoroughly Modern Millie will likely be affected. Call (888) 802-7469 for more information.
…STILL ON: The Oct. 29 Carlsbad Playreaders presentation of Horton Foote’s 1995 drama, The Young Man from Atlanta, winner of the 1997 Tony Award for Best Play . 7:30pm at the Dove Library in Carlsbad . www.carlsbadplayreaders.org
.. And other Readings coming up….
… A Screw Askew… a Write Out Loud production presented in conjunction with, and in the spirit of The Turn of the Screw, currently playing at Cygnet Theatre. This group, founded by Walter Ritter and Veronica Murphy, intends to “inspire, challenge and entertain by reading short stories aloud for a live audience.” This round of tales will be read by Amy Biedel and David Tierney (currently starring in the Cygnet Screw), Tim West and Veronica Murphy. 2pm Friday, November 2, at Cygnet Theatre. For reservations call 619-297-8953.
… The Aspire Playwrights Collective, a group of seven local playwrights founded by Kristina Meek, presents a staged reading of a new, full-length play by actor/writer/trapeze artist (!) Kevin Six. Love Negotiated concerns “fear, denial, love and the fear and denial of love.” Patricia Elmore Costa directs, and a discussion follows (Come even if you fear and deny love!). 7pm on Monday, Nov. 19, at the Athenaeum School of the Arts Studio, 4441 Park Blvd. No reservations necessary. Kevin has set up a unique pay-scale: You pay based on how much you liked the show. “If you like it $10, pay $10. If you like it fidy cent, pay fidy cent. If you like it bupkis , pay bupkis .”
… Black Storytellers of San Diego presents Tales from the Dark Thirty, a reference to “that time when it is neither day nor night; when shadows lurk and play on the mind.” Saturday, November 3, 3:30pm in the Malcolm X Library, 5148 Market St., SD 92114 . Admission is free.
IN OTHER NEWS….
… If you want to hear a little about the ghosties and ghoulies , zombies and vampires out and about and on San Diego stages… watch my appearance on “Inside San Diego ” on KUSI-TV, now on my website at www.patteproductions.com . fyi : I talked about Dracula (NCRT), St. Nicholas (Cygnet) and SDSU’s Zombie Prom.
…Viva Luis ! … “The Legacy of Luis Valdez, Father of Chicano Theater,” the documentary I made with Rick Bollinger of City TV, will be shown at the 11thInternational Latino Film Festival in the Bay Area, as part of a Tribute to Luis. The Festival runs Nov. 2-18; our film shows at 6pm on Thursday Nov. 8. Maybe you’re overdue for an SF trip… I’ll be there, along with the Valdez family. www.latinofilmfestival.org
…Hot Tix : My weekly theater suggestions are now appearing on KNSD’s What’s Hot webpage: Go to www.nbcsandiego.com , and click on What’s Hot.
… Writers’/Actors’ Workshop: An all-day intensive, culminating in evening performances. Sat. Nov. 17, taught by local writer/director/composer/producer Eric Scot Frydler , courtesy of New Vision Theatre Company at the Sunshine Brooks Theatre in Oceanside . Participate as writer, actor or audience member. Pre-registration required. www.nvtheatre.com
…Teen Musical Theatre Competition: The J* Company’s Project Center Stage 2008, open to ages 13-18. First Round auditions 7-9pm Tues. Nov. 13 in the Garfield Theatre at the Lawrence Family JCC in La Jolla; Wed. 11/14 at California Center for the Arts-Escondido; and Thursday, 11/15 at the Joan Kroc Theatre/Salvation Army Kroc Center on University Ave. in the Rolando area. The Final Round concert takes place Sat. February 2 at the JCC in La Jolla . Info at www.lfjcc.org/jcompany
‘NOT TO BE MISSED!’ (Pat’s Picks)
– still irresistible after all these years! Two talented, native San Diegan JBs ; the singing, story and songs are terrific
Civic Theatre, through November 11
Dracula – very spooky and scary; a cautionary tale about taking and relinquishing control. The performances and effects are great!
North Coast Repertory Theatre, through November 18
The Turn of the Screw and St. Nicholas – a deliciously ghostly double-bill, excellently performed and sure to leave you wondering (in the best dramatic way)
Cygnet Theatre, on and off-nights, through November 11
Humble Boy – a Hamletian man-child, overpowered by his oversexed mother, grieving for his absent father; quirky characters, delightful production
New Village Arts , through November 11
The Busy World is Hushed – fathers, faith and family — a mother-son and man-to-man confrontation. Wise, witty, thought provoking and very well done
Diversionary Theatre, through October 28
A Catered Affair – poignant, touching story, beautifully acted, well sung, with the music excellently integrated into the dialogue
The Old Globe, through November 4
Thoroughly Modern Millie — thoroughly engaging production, with great singing and dancing
Welk Resort Theatre, through November 4. NOTE: The Welk Theatre has been evacuated; call for performance times.
(For full text of all of Pat’s past reviews, going back to 1990, use the Search engine at www.patteproductions.com)
This has been such a stressful and distressing week, you owe it to your loved ones to haul them off to an evening of escape and entertainment at a local theater.
© 2007 PATTÉ PRODUCTIONS, INC.
For more than 20 years, Pat Launer has been the only regular broadcast theater critic in San Diego . An Emmy Award-winner with a Ph.D. in Communication Arts & Sciences, Pat sees and reviews more than 200 local theater productions every year. For the past decade, she has hosted and produced The Patté Awards for Theatre Excellence, a gala community event that honors local theatermakers (“San Diegans making theater for San Diego ”) and celebrates the broad diversity of San Diego theater .