New season, digs for SD Musical Theatre

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Company announces move from North Park to Spreckels as it unveils 2015 lineup

By James Hebert 09:57a.m. Jul 25, 2014


San Diego Musical Theatre has big news about its upcoming season — and even bigger news about its future.

The 7-year-old company, which has produced its polished, typically large-scale musicals at the North Park Theatre for the past three seasons, has announced it is moving to the Spreckels Theatre downtown.

The move comes after a change in ownership of the historic North Park venue, which has brought a shift in focus there (to more concert-oriented programming), not to mention a rise in rents.

SDMT has two more productions in North Park: The hard-hitting rock musical “Next to Normal” (Sept. 26 to Oct. 12), which might be the company’s most adventurous show yet; and a return of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” Dec. 11-21.

Then, beginning in February, SDMT (founded and run by Erin and Gary Lewis) sets up shop at the Spreckels — a theater that actually has more history behind it than the company’s previous home. (The North Park Theatre was built in 1928; the Spreckels opened in 1912.)

Here’s what SDMT has planned for its new digs in 2015:

“WEST SIDE STORY,” Feb. 13 to March 1, 2015: SDMT revives one of the most celebrated musicals of the 20th century — the 1957 saga of gang warfare in New York City, with a plot patterned after the romantic tragedy of “Romeo and Juliet.” The show (with an unforgettable score by Leonard Bernstein) featured the Broadway debut of Stephen Sondheim, who wrote the lyrics.

The production’s director is James Vasquez, who headed a well-received staging of “Cats” for SDMT earlier this year. The busy director (who also helps run a film company) just opened “Pageant” at Cygnet Theatre, and for several seasons now has directed “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” for the Old Globe.

“SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN,” May 22 to June 7, 2015: Everyone knows the Gene Kelly movie, but the stage adaptation of this classic isn’t seen all that often. SDMT returnee Todd Nielsen (“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas”) directs the show about hoofers in Hollywood at the moment of the shift from silent movies to “talkies.”

The musical is based on the screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, with songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. (Locally related factoid: The lyricist and co-composer of “Hands on a Hardbody,” the musical that premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in 2012 and went on to Broadway (briefly), is Amanda Green, Adolph’s daughter.)

“LA CAGE AUX FOLLES,” Sept. 25 to Oct. 11, 2015: Larry Raben, seen recently at Moonlight Stage Productions in “Spamalot” and “Young Frankenstein,” will direct SDMT’s production of the Harvey Fierstein-penned musical comedy about a gay couple whose relationship leads to farcical family complications and some elaborate masquerading. (The title comes from the drag club where one is the manager and the other is the featured performer.)

The show, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, is based on the original play by Jean Poiret. The musical was a hit on Broadway in 1983, and has been revived there twice since. A national tour starring George Hamilton came through San Diego in 2012.

“IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS,” Nov. 27 to Dec. 6, 2015: The holiday show returns to SDMT, with Todd Nielsen again directing. (Here’s our review of the 2013 production.)

Based (like “Singin’ in the Rain”) on a classic ’50s movie, “White Christmas” tells a story of romance, show biz and soldierly solidarity through such Berlin tunes as “Blue Skies,” “I Love a Piano,” “Sisters” and the title song.

For more details on the season: (619) 239-8836 or

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