Reporter’s Notebook: North Coast Rep to film its next two productions onstage

A scnee from North Coast Repertory Theatre's Zoom-based comedy "Human Error."
A scene from North Coast Repertory Theatre’s June production of “Human Error,” which was filmed with Zoom technology. On Monday, the company announced two more online shows that will be filmed onstage.
(A scene from North Coast Repertory Theatre’s June production of “Human Error.”)

Solana Beach theater has added timely play about Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln to season


North Coast Repertory Theatre plans to open its season as scheduled on Sept. 9, but in light of the pandemic, its first two season productions will be filmed onstage with social distancing measures and available for streaming for four weeks.

The season was originally scheduled to open with Bernard Slade’s “Same Time Next Year,” but that will move back to October for the timely West Coast premiere of Richard Hellesen’s “Necessary Sacrifices.” The two-character play is inspired by two documented meetings between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass during the Civil War.

It’s the story of how the two leaders grapple with war, peace, politics and moral courage. Directed by Peter Ellenstein, it will star Ray Chambers as Lincoln and Hawthorne James as Douglass. It will stream Sept. 9 through Oct. 11.

“Same Time Next Year,” streaming from Oct. 21 through Nov. 22, is a romantic comedy about the 25-year love affair between a couple who meet once a year at a hotel to renew the excitement of their original one-night stand. It will star married actors Katie MacNichol and Bruce Turk. David Ellenstein, North Coast Rep’s artistic director, will direct the production.

Earlier this summer, North Coast Rep experimented with enhanced Zoom technology and actors working from home to present a filmed version of the five-character comedy “Human Error.” For the two upcoming productions, the actors will be filmed in costume and onstage but will perform with social distancing measures and safety protocols required by the Screen Actors Guild. The film will be edited by company members Aaron Rumley and Chris Williams.

Visit for details.

Playhouse extends ‘Wizards’ again

“The Wizards of Oakwood Drive,” La Jolla Playhouse’s Zoom-based interactive children’s play and home scavenger hunt, has been extended for a second time due to ticket demand. It now runs through Aug. 30. The performance schedule has shifted slightly but retains three-show days on weekends. Families are also being offered the opportunity to “buy out” a performance so grandparents who live in another household can tune in and watch the show off-camera.

For tickets, visit

Carlsbad Playreaders postpones season

Gerilyn Brault, artistic director of Carlsbad Playreaders, has announced that due to the pandemic, all of the readings scheduled for the rest of 2020 have been postponed.

Brault said she also plans to dedicate future seasons to the work of under-represented voices, including female playwrights, playwrights of color and playwrights from the LGBTQ community. These works will be balanced with theatrical classics and crowd favorites.

“We are hoping to bring you many of the titles we’ve had to cancel this year, but ensuring our future presentations feature voices and stories that have been under-produced in theater for far too long,” she said.


Senior theater troupe offering live Zoom season

Theatre Arts, an acting troupe at the Ocean Hills Country Club, a 55-and-older neighborhood in Oceanside, is in the midst of an entire season of Zoom-based play readings that air on the senior community’s in-house TV station.

Anita Simons, the troupe’s creative director, said that due to the pandemic and the older age of its performers, gathering this year for rehearsals or performances was out of the question. So instead of a live in-person season, she has programmed a series of live Zoom shows that are offered free of charge on TV to Ocean Hills residents.

The most recent reading was Sean Grennan’s comedy about couples therapy called “Couples.” Simon said she’s now planning auditions in September for an as-yet unannounced play that will be presented online in October. Ocean Hills residents interested in joining Theatre Arts can contact Cathy King at

— Pam Kragen writes about theater for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at