Tony Hawk-connected skateboard musical and more at La Jolla Playhouse this weekend as ‘DNA’ festival opens


It’s hard to know what to expect when “Slam” — the new musical project that features skate choreography by the locally bred board hero Tony Hawk — hits the La Jolla Playhouse stage for its first workshop presentations this weekend.

But here’s one thing maybe not to expect: Tap-dancing.

The Playhouse is giving a first peek at the nationally buzzed piece (or part of it, anyway) as one of the selections in the latest edition of the theater’s DNA New Work Series, the developmental program that has sprung numerous stage successes over the past few years.

And as a bonus, Hawk will do skate demo sessions after the readings of “Slam,” which has music and lyrics by Devo co-founder and vocalist Mark Mothersbaugh.

I’ll be attending “Slam” on Saturday evening, so look for some social-media dispatches and pictures over the weekend — on Twitter (@jimhebert), Instagram (@jameshebert) and Facebook (UT Entertainment).

The weekend-long DNA fest takes place through Sunday in the Playhouse’s Rao and Padma Makeneni Play Development Center (PDC) and Seuss 1 rehearsal spaces. Tickets are free, but reservations are required by calling (858) 550-1010 or going to (Fair warning: Availability is likely slim at this point).

For those not familiar with the DNA experience: All the plays are staged sans scenic, costume or staging elements; actors perform with scripts in hand.

Here’s a look at the lineup. (Quoted material is provided by the Playhouse.)

“The Best We Could (a family tragedy)”

7:30 p.m. May 3, Play Development Center

Kate Eminger directs the new piece by Emily Feldman, whose play “We’ve Come to Believe” was seen at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in March.

The blurb: “‘Are you sitting down? Maybe you should sit down.’” A daughter’s road trip with her father becomes a theatrical journey across more than just state lines in this funny, wise and heartbreaking new play.”


2 and 7:30 p.m. May 4, Seuss 1

The skateboarding musical, adapted from the novel by Nick Hornby (of “High Fidelity” fame), is said to have Broadway in its sights. It’s written by Kyle Jarrow, whose projects include the world-premiere musical “Whisper House” at the Old Globe (in collaboration with Duncan Sheik) as well as “SpongeBob SquarePants” on Broadway. Sean Graney directs.

The blurb: “Sam, a 17-year-old kid from a troubled background, finds refuge in the world of skateboarding and through imagined conversations with his idol, Tony Hawk. But when he falls in love with a girl, it seems like everything’s looking up — until it all comes crashing down.

“Mark Mothersbaugh and Kyle Jarrow’s musical adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel is a funny and edgy exploration of young adulthood and what it means to wrestle with dreams and disappointments.”

“Jean, Johah, and the Ginger Karl”

2 p.m. May 5, Seuss 1

Jeff Augustin’s play, commissioned by the Actors Theatre of Louisville (home of the Humana fest), is directed by fellow UCSD MFA alumnus Joshua Kahan Brody, who likewise directed “The Last Tiger in Haiti.”

The blurb: “When Jean arrives in Miami from Haiti, he’s determined to ‘learn America’ during a cross-country journey with his pregnant wife. Decades later, his son Jonah makes the same trip in reverse, desperate to understand his father — and discover himself.

“Two lives unfold side by side in Jeff Augustin’s beautiful new play about memories real and imagined.”