As San Diego Repertory Theatre announces its 2019-20 season — the company’s 44th — the downtown institution also is tweaking its mission statement, putting extra emphasis on such words on “inclusive” and “interconnected.”
In truth, those have long been pioneering values for the Rep, which was doing diversity before that was really a concept in local theater.
The upcoming season is another reflection of that, with shows that spring from a variety of ethnic, gender and cross-cultural perspectives.
The lineup also continues the Rep’s tradition of bringing new work to town: Among the shows are a world-premiere comedy from the theater’s ace playwright in residence, Herbert Siguenza; a world-premiere musical about the record biz; and the first area productions of four other works, including the return of Rep favorite Hershey Felder with a new piece about the composer Debussy.
Tickets for the just-announced 2019-20 shows are available only by season subscription at the moment; call (619) 544-1000 or go to sdrep.org.
Here’s a look at what’s on the way:
“33 1/3: House of Dreams”
Aug. 1-25 (opens Aug. 7), Lyceum Stage
The title of this brand-new musical refers to the rotation speed of a vinyl record album (ask your parents, kids!). But believe it or not, it also describes the precise number of years that Gold Star Studios, a Los Angeles recording mecca, was in business.
The musical revisits that storied history, when the studio hosted such artists as the Beach Boys, Tina Turner and Ritchie Valens, and birthed producer Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound.” And it depicts the launching of pop hits from “La Bamba” to “Be My Baby” to “Good Vibrations.”
But “it’s as much a story of the studio and its creative beehive” as a chronicle of those songs, says Rep co-founder and artistic director Sam Woodhouse.
The piece is by longtime friends Jonathan Rosenberg and Brad Ross — a San Diego dentist and the son of the late Stan Ross, who co-founded Gold Star. Longtime Rep collaborator (and San Diego Ballet artistic chief) Javier Velasco will choreograph and direct, with the versatile veteran Steve Gunderson as musical director and arranger.
The Rep will once again team with the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, bringing students into the cast and creative team.
“Bad Hombres/Good Wives”
Oct. 3-27 (opens Oct. 9), Lyceum Space
Culture Clash co-founder and Rep playwright in residence Herbert Siguenza is a master of cultural and genre mash-ups — witness his bonkers Rep comedy “Manifest Destinitis” from a couple of years ago. Now Woodhouse directs this new piece that riffs on works by Moliére, Oscar Wilde and more, as it takes a comic look at a romantic rivalry in the world of drug cartels.
The piece will include original banda music, plus some fun with “narco arquitectura” (a real thing that involves “gaudy, extremely pretentious, over-the-top” design styles, says Woodhouse). Not only that, but Siguenza plays a maid.
“Hold These Truths”
Nov. 14 to Dec. 8 (opens Nov. 20), Lyceum Space
Ryun Yu plays some 37 characters in playwright Jeanne Sakata’s fact-based story of Gordon Hirabayashi, who became a folk hero for refusing the World War II-era executive order that forced tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans into internment camps. (The broader story of internment was also told onstage in the Old Globe-bred musical “Allegiance,” which went to Broadway in 2015.)
Woodhouse calls this one “an inspiring story of resistance against injustice,” with present-day connections to the stories of political refugees being imprisoned for seeking asylum in the United States. Jessica Kubzansky directs.
Jan. 9 to Feb. 2, 2020 (opens Jan. 15, 2020), Lyceum Space
Playwright Stephen Karam earned the best-play Tony Award in 2016 for this darkly comic domestic drama, which also was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
Rep associate artistic director Todd Salovey will direct Karam’s story of an Irish-American family whose Thanksgiving reunion ignites into conflict amid economic pressures. While the work’s style is nominally realistic, there’s also a mysterious, perhaps supernatural aspect to the saga. As Woodhouse puts it: “The play’s a lot about secrets and dreams.”
“House of Joy”
March 5-29, 2020 (opens March 11, 2020), Lyceum Space
Woodhouse co-directs with Arpita Mukherjee on this fantasy-minded work from the playwright Madhuri Shekar.
“House of Joy” centers on the elite female warriors who guard a royal harem in a heightened version of 17th-century India.
Woodhouse calls the piece a “fantastical adventure play” that’s chock-full of daring heroines. (In fact, there’s only one male in the whole show.)
“Hershey Felder: A Paris Love Story”
May 8 to June 7, 2020 (opens May 8, 2020), Lyceum Stage
Felder, the formidable pianist-actor-writer whose show about Beethoven is onstage at the Rep right now, returns to the theater — a key creative home — with this new work about the “Clair de lune” composer Claude Debussy.
The work, which has its world premiere next month in the Bay Area, is the latest in Felder’s distinguished series of solo shows about famous composers.
“I do think he’s an extraordinary and rare combination of storyteller, musician, actor and singer,” Woodhouse says of Felder. “And his work in exploring the lives and creations of some of the greatest composers in Western civilization is certainly a quest worth hosting.”