Center Stage with Pat Launer on KSDS JAZZ88
AIRDATE: DECEMBER 30, 2010
Well, here’s a dramatic dilemma. Folks all over the country – including New York – know that San Diego is a theater town. But most San Diegans don’t know it. We have two Tony Award-winning theaters – the La Jolla Playhouse and the Old Globe. We are one of the country’s top exporters of productions to Broadway. Together, the Globe and the Playhouse have sent 38 shows to the Big Apple. They weren’t all Tony winners, like “Jersey Boys” or “The Full Monty,” but we’ve got a pretty darn good track record.
We’ve got it all here, from the color and splash of new musicals to the riveting intensity of dramas, from classics to experimental work, from family-friendly fare to graphically sexy or raunchy or nude, performed in giant-sized theaters like the 3000-seat Civic downtown to the most intimate venue, like ion theatre’s 49-seat BlackBox in University Heights . There are musical scores that feature jazz, blues, hip hop, showtunes or standards. What’s especially exciting is for local audiences to get in on the ground floor of new work, whether it goes on to Broadway or not, we get to see it first. And theater artists from all over the country love to come here to premiere their work. It’s not just the weather; the theater climate is equally inviting. Our arts community is a big draw for out-of-town visitors, too; we’ve become a nationally-known travel destination for ‘cultural tourism.’
You can’t imagine how much theater there is here. Last year, I saw 245 shows, sometimes 5 or 6 a week. Plenty of delicious opportunities to lose myself in another world — to visit another time or place, real or imagined, from a beach in La Jolla to the ice moons of Saturn. And don’t believe the theater’s misguided reputation as an elitist or expensive activity. Local shows cost less than a ballgame or concert. And every theater in town offers discount tickets, including last-minute rush seats.
Theater isn’t like movies or TV. It’s an exciting, interactive activity; the audience has a great influence on the performers. And they, in turn, educate, enlighten or entertain you, and may even change your mind about a person, group, country or political movement.
During 2010, San Diego theaters produced the world premieres of “Whisper House,” “Robin and the 7 Hoods,” “Surf Report” and “Limelight, The Story of Charlie Chaplin,” among others. And coming up, there’s a musical version of “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Jane Austen’s Emma,” and a whole lot more.
From OnStage in Chula Vista to the Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido , no matter where you live, there’s a live theater near you. So what are you waiting for? Support one of our most successful home teams – the theater community. Visit a local theater this weekend – and I’ll see you there!
©2010 PAT LAUNER