San Diego Theatre Week returning for a third go-round
You could argue that every week is theater week in San Diego — one of the most active theater towns in America, with a reputation that stretches to Broadway and beyond thanks to the new work developed here.
But if you’re a newcomer to, or only an occasional dabbler in, the stage scene here, figuring out what to see and where to see it can be a little daunting.
And that’s where San Diego Theatre Week comes in.
Now entering its third year, Theatre Week — which runs Feb. 15-25 — serves up a kind of sampler plate of stage offerings, from youth and community-theater productions up to the big stages of the regional powerhouses La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Rep and the Old Globe Theatre.
The food analogy seems fitting, given that Theatre Week — a project of the nonprofit San Diego Performing Arts League — was inspired in part by the popularity of San Diego Restaurant Week, which annually showcases a broad range of local cuisine at special prices. (The 2018 edition of Restaurant Week concludes today.)
And as it turns out, the one significant change to San Diego Theatre Week for this year was likewise inspired by the event’s restaurant counterpart.
“The main thing that’s different this year is that there are set prices,” similar to restaurants’ prix-fixe offerings, says Sue Mason, board secretary of the Performing Arts League.
All Theatre Week tickets are now offered in three price tiers: $15, $30 and $45.
In the event’s two previous editions, the participating arts organizations set their own special Theatre Week prices — or offered some other premium in lieu of a discount.
“It was all over the place,” as Mason puts it. “The first year, because we were just getting started, we didn’t have as many guidelines or suggested parameters. We just wanted to get everybody participating.
“So some places actually didn’t reduce prices. They (offered) extra added value – free beverages, or talkbacks.
“It worked, but it was very confusing. So we said, ‘All right, let’s get more organized.’ ”
In some cases, it’s still necessary to drill down a bit on the Theatre Week website to determine the actual discount.
As of early last week, the only $45 deal listed was for New Village Arts Theatre’s production of “Cloud Tectonics” in Carlsbad.
That deal, though, was actually for two tickets at that price — so, just over $20 apiece.
Conversely, one of the $30 deals — for the Old Globe productions of “Uncle Vanya” and “The Importance of Being Earnest” — required that you buy a $30 ticket to each of those shows, for a total of $60. (Which is still a significant bargain compared with typical prices.)
The bottom line is that it pays to poke around a bit.
It also pays to keep checking back: While about 30 events were listed on the Theatre Week website in late January, organizers will continue to add new offerings right up until the Feb. 15 kickoff.
And it’s important to remember that, strictly speaking, Theatre Week isn’t confined to one week. There are numerous events happening after February for which discounted tickets are available to purchase during the run of Theatre Week.
One thing that isn’t changing, Mason emphasizes, is Theatre Week’s focus on spotlighting the full range of local performing-arts happenings.
“We have such a wide variety of performing arts in San Diego,” says Mason, the longtime membership-services manager for the San Diego Tourism Authority.
“Everybody knows the high end. But there are so many teeny local theaters that do incredible productions.
“So getting them on the same playing field is one of the things we like to do — to get people excited about (both) the local theaters and the regional theaters. Plus the opportunity to see an awesome production without having to shell out the high-end prices.
Mason’s summary of the local cultural scene could serve as a de facto San Diego Theatre Week slogan: “There’s a lot out there.”
San Diego Theatre Week 2018
When: Feb.15-25 (with additional discounts for events later in the year)
Where: Locations around San Diego County
Tickets: $15, $30 and $45; check individual listings
Phone: (858) 437-9850
A quick roundup of a few San Diego Theatre Week offerings at the three price levels:
“A Raisin in the Sun,” UC San Diego Theatre and Dance: The nationally acclaimed theater program stages the durable Lorraine Hansberry classic about the struggles of an African-American family.
“The Addams Family,” Coronado Playhouse: The musical adaptation of the mordantly funny Charles Addams cartoons (as filtered through the ’60s TV show) gets a revival in Coronado.
“The Cake,” La Jolla Playhouse: The new, comedy-laced play by Bekah Brunstetter (of TV’s “This Is Us”) grapples with topical issues of gay rights versus religious freedom.
“Uncle Vanya”/“The Importance of Being Earnest,” Old Globe Theatre: The Globe brings in internationally renowned talent for fresh looks at these totemic plays by Oscar Wilde and Anton Chekhov. (Note: Purchase of one $30 ticket to each show is required.)
“This Random World,” North Coast Rep: The West Coast premiere of Steven Dietz’s play about coincidences and connections lands at the Solana Beach theater.
“Cloud Tectonics,” New Village Arts Theatre: Culture Clash co-founder (and San Diego Rep playwright in residence) Herbert Siguenza directs the Jose Rivera play as part of NVA’s Teatro Pueblo Nuevo initiative. (Note: $45 buys two tickets).
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