LOOKING BACK AND FORWARD
KPBS AIRDATE: January 06, 2006
Ring out the old, ring in the new. It’s a good time to look at what heated up the last year, and what’s hot on the horizon. The final numbers aren’t in for 2005, but there are a few startling statistics you ought to know. In 2004, more than 2 million theater tickets were sold in San Diego. That’s more than the Padres and Chargers combined.
San Diego has consistently been a formidable presence at Broadway’s Tony Awards. Last year, Billy Crystal’s “700 Sundays,” which began at the La Jolla Playhouse, directed by Des McAnuff, won for Special Theatrical Event. And “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” which premiered at the Old Globe, under the direction of Jack O’Brien, was nominated for 11 awards, winning Best Performance. At this year’s awards ceremony in June, look for McAnuff’s killer production of “Jersey Boys,” which is knockin’ ‘em dead in New York. And two shows that were developed at the Old Globe – “Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life” and the upcoming “Times They are a-Changin’” – may well be Tony contenders, too. Speaking of awards, don’t miss this year’s Patté Awards for Theater Excellence, January 15 on KPBS-TV. Find out what I considered the very best local productions and performances. That excludes visiting dignitaries, like the stunning touring company of “The Lion King,” still roaring at the Civic Theatre.
Last year, there seemed to be more new plays and staged readings than ever, spotlighting veteran and burgeoning talent. So if you like to see what’s new, check out the Playwrights Project’s Plays by Young Writers, opening next week, and the UCSD New Play Festival in the spring, as well as regular readings by the Actors Alliance and Carlsbad Playreaders. 2005 wasn’t just about new plays and faces; it was also a year of terrific theater tenacity. The Old Globe celebrated its 70th anniversary, and the 90th birthday of its Founding Father, Craig Noel. The San Diego Opera marked its 40th year and Lamb’s Players Theatre its 35th. The San Diego Rep turned 30, Moonlight Stage Productions 25, and Sledgehammer and Diversionary Theatres each completed two decades of dramatic operation.
In the new year, I’m looking forward to the latest productions from our plucky and imaginative small companies: Moxie Theatre, Cygnet Theatre, Lynx Theatre and New Village Arts. And I’m crossing my fingers for the Twyla Tharp/Bob Dylan musical at the Globe and the expanded “Zhivago” at the Playhouse, as well as “Restless Spirits” at the San Diego Rep, “Halpern and Johnson” at North Coast Rep and “Into the Woods” at Lamb’s Players Theatre.
San Diego is a nationally recognized theater town. Shouldn’t you be supporting the home team? It’s not too late to add “More Theater” to your New Year’s Resolutions.
©2006 Patté Productions Inc.