Summer arts preview: Top 10 theater picks

From rock to pop-opera to classic show tunes, musicals rule San Diego’s stages this summer. But there’s still room for some promising plays, too. Here’s a look at what’s likely to heat up local theaters this season:

“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story”

Two San Diego theaters buddy up for this co-production of the peppy musical about the bespectacled Texan singer-songwriter who brought us “Peggy Sue,” “That’ll Be the Day” and other treasures. Intrepid Theatre producing artistic chief Christy Yael-Cox directs the show, which will rock on over to New Village Arts later in the summer.

Intrepid Theatre at the Horton Grand, 444 Fourth Ave.,

Gaslamp Quarter , through July 2;

New Village Arts Theatre, 2787 State St., Carlsbad, July 13 to Aug. 27. 760.433.3245, or 858.560.5740,

“Big Fish”

Lamb’s Players reels in its first production of the movie-based musical about a dad with a fondness for tall tales, and the skeptical son who discovers they might be more than just fish stories. The piece had a modest Broadway run in 2013; Deborah Gilmour Smyth directs the Lamb’s staging, in a more intimate “12 chair” version


June 9 to July 30. Lamb’s Players Theatre, 1142 Orange Ave., Coronado. 619.437.6000,


The summer season of musicals at the open-air Moonlight Amphitheatre opens with a revival of this Elton John-composed musical, a rock version of the opera by Giuseppe Verdi. The show, which won four Tony Awards in 2000, chronicles the love story between an Egyptian prince and a slave.

June 14 to July 1. Moonlight Stage Productions, 1250 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista. 760.724.2110,

“Guys and Dolls”

Josh Rhodes choreographed the Old Globe world-premiere production of “Bright Star” that went to Broadway; now he returns to

Balboa Park

to direct a fresh revival of this perennial favorite, driven by the enduring music of Frank Loesser. The show is part of a summer season that also includes Robert Sean Leonard in “Richard II” (June 11 to July 15); Ken Ludwig’s world-premiere comedy “Robin Hood!” (July 22 to Aug. 27); and “Hamlet,” directed by Globe artistic chief Barry Edelstein (Aug. 6 to Sept. 10).

July 2 to Aug. 13. Old Globe Theatre’s Shiley Stage, Balboa Park. 619.234.5623,

“Animal Crackers”

This musical comedy is based on the Marx Brothers’ original Broadway hit and film about a madcap quest for a purported art thief. Cygnet artistic chief Sean Murray directs.

July 5 to Aug. 13. Cygnet Theatre, 4040 Twiggs St., Old Town. 619.337.1525,

“At This Evening’s Performance”

It’s the San Diego premiere of Nagle Jackson’s comedy about a bumbling theater troupe trying to ply its trade in an Eastern European police state. Andrew Barnicle directs.

July 12 to Aug. 6. North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach. 858.481.1055,

“Pump Up the Volume: A Musical 90s-Palooza”

The creators of Lamb’s Players’ record-breaking ‘80s musical revue “miXtape,” Jon Lorenz and Colleen Kollar Smith, put their heads together again for this ode to “the pimpin’ pop culture, phat fads and stylin’ fashion” of the 1990s.

July 28 to Sept. 10. San Diego Musical Theatre at the Horton Grand, 444 Fourth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter.

“Kill Local”

UC San Diego playwriting grad Mat Smart brings this brand-new piece (developed in the DNA New Work Series) to the Playhouse stage. Jackson Gay directs the “pitch-black comedy” about a mom and two daughters engaged in highly lethal family business.

Aug. 1-27. La Jolla Playhouse, 2910 La Jolla Village Drive, Playhouse/UC San Diego Theatre District. 858.550.1010,


The Rep takes on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s much-loved musical, whose highly fictionalized story centers on the late Argentine first lady Eva Peron. Artistic chief Sam Woodhouse directs a production that again partners the theater with talented students from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts.

Aug. 3-27. San Diego Repertory Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, downtown. 619.544.1000,

“An American in Paris”

The movie-based musical, with a strong emphasis on dance, centers on an American G.I. and a young French woman who meet in the aftermath of World War II. The Broadway production earned 12 Tony Award nominations in 2015.

Sept. 5-10. Broadway/San Diego at the Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., downtown. 619.570.1100,