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Old Globe unveils hybrid season of outdoor, indoor, virtual and interactive theater

The Old Globe's first live stage performances this summer will be a series of outdoor cabaret shows
The Old Globe’s first live stage performances this summer will be a series of outdoor cabaret shows by past leading ladies Solea Pfeiffer, left, Carmen Cusack and Eden Espinosa.
(Courtesy of the Old Globe)

Outdoor stage will open June 4 for free movies and cabarets, followed by “Hair”; first indoor show is Graciela Daniele-inspired musical on Sept. 10

After being dark for 14 months, San Diego’s largest and oldest theater, the Old Globe, today announced plans for a full reopening of all three of its Balboa Park stages.

The unprecedented hybrid season will gradually roll out with a mix of live, virtual and interactive theatrical projects over the next four months.

On June 4, the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre will reopen for a summer series of movie nights, cabaret shows and Shakespeare events. Free outdoor events on the Globe’s Copley Plaza will also begin June 4. Full-fledged theatrical productions will return with the musical “Hair” on the outdoor stage beginning Aug. 10, followed by the world premiere of the Michael John LaChiusa musical “The Gardens of Anuncia” inside the main Old Globe Theatre on Sept. 10. The in-the-round Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre will reopen Oct. 7 with the world premiere of Mansa Ra’s “Shutter Sisters.”

During the slow ramp-up this summer, initial shows will be presented with small onstage casts just three nights a week, growing to full-cast shows six nights a week in August.

The Globe will also present several virtual productions in the coming months, including two short plays on film and an epistolary play where ticket-buyers will receive a series of letters and postcards in the mail that unfold a real-life World War II-era love story. There will also be a new interactive self-guided tour experience where Balboa Park visitors can unlock fictional story videos with their cellphone at locations around Balboa Park.

Globe artistic director Barry Edelstein said the return to live programming has been a huge logistical challenge to plan with the constantly changing public health ordinances. But it marks a joyous time as well. So, as the local theater industry’s “biggest outfit in town,” he wanted the Globe to make a statement with a rich nine-month smorgasbord of events that signal the pandemic is finally coming to an end.

“Of course, we want to do a lot of stuff. When we’re closed, we’re not fulfilling our mission to provide theater to the community of San Diego,” he said. “People miss theater. They want to be a community again. My impression of what will happen is what happened when Shakespeare reopened his theater. It will roar back to life.”

The first live performances onstage at the Globe this summer will be a series of outdoor cabaret shows in June and July by leading ladies from three past world premiere musicals at the Globe: Solea Pfeiffer from “Almost Famous,” Carmen Cusack from “Bright Star” and Eden Espinosa from “Rain.”

“These are three of the truly most magnificent voices in American musical theater,” he said. “When they all said they wanted to come, it moved me very deeply. It was a real expression of their fondness for San Diego.”

 Ron Cephas Jones and Patricia McGregor are collaborating on "Krapp's Last Tape" for The Old Globe.
Actor Ron Cephas Jones and director Patricia McGregor are collaborating on a video production of Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape” for The Old Globe.
(Courtesy of The Old Globe)

Edelstein said “Hair” seemed the perfect show to bring back full-cast live theater at the Globe. When he was working at the Public Theater in New York, “Hair” was produced at the outdoor Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, and he said it was an “epic experience to watch this play under the stars.”

“It’s a beautiful statement to make for reopening again. It’s about people coming together to dream about an ideal world,” he said, adding that it will have a highly diverse cast.

“Gardens of Anuncia,” about the life story of Argentina-born Broadway legend Graciela Daniele, also honors the company’s commitment to present more stories about the Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) experience.

“It’s a story about Latina brilliance,” he said. “There will be a stage full of Latinas telling the story of their lives and voices and culture.”

One of the highlights of the virtual offerings — which Edelstein said are likely to become a permanent part of the Globe’s future — will be a digital version of Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape” starring Ron Cephas Jones, who won two Emmy Awards playing Randall’s biological dad, William, on the TV series “This Is Us.” Edelstein said he worked with Jones in New York and has been trying to get the actor to the Globe for years.

Under the latest state health orders, all San Diego County theaters are allowed to reopen at full capacity on June 15. Performances before that date will be presented with socially distanced seating, regardless of vaccination status. For all performances after June 15, the Globe will be posting updates on whatever restrictions the state and county are requiring at that time on its website at theoldglobe.org.

On-sale dates for tickets vary. Visit theoldglobe.org or by calling the ticket office at (619) 234-5623. Here’s a look at upcoming programming at the Old Globe:

Free film series

Series begins June 4 at the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre. Shows begin at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are free, but general admission reserved tickets are required.

  • “Dreamgirls” with Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson: June 4
  • “Cinderella” with Brandy and Whitney Houston: June 5
  • “West Side Story,” 1961 original film: June 6
  • “Passing Strange,” filmed live on Broadway by Spike Lee: June 11
  • “The Wiz” with Diana Ross: June 12
  • George Takei’s “Allegiance, the Broadway Musical”: June 13
  • “Kinky Boots”: July 1
  • “1776,” the musical’s 1972 film adaptation: July 2
  • “Grease,” starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John: July 3

Cabaret shows

Evening concerts by past leading ladies at the Old Globe. Shows begin at 8 p.m. on the outdoor stage. Tickets start at $29 and go on sale at noon June 11.

  • Solea Pfeiffer (“Almost Famous”): June 19-20
  • Carmen Cusack (“Bright Star”): June 25-27
  • Eden Espinosa (“Rain”): July 9-11

Axis events

Family-friendly, 60- to 90-minute interactive programs presented on the Globe’s Copley Plaza, unless otherwise noted. Admission is free but tickets are required.

  • Word Up! Live”: 5:30 p.m. June 4, June 25, July 2, July 16, Aug. 6, Aug. 20 and Sept. 10
  • Movement Enthusiast Physical Workshop with Disco Riot: 10 a.m. June 12, June 26 and Aug. 28
  • Juneteenth Celebration with San Diego Black Artists Collective: Noon June 19 (Lowell Davies Festival Theatre)
  • The Poet’s Tree Finale: 5:30 p.m. June 22
  • Fit Body by Ashley all-ages dance class: 10 a.m. July 10 and July 31
  • Clean Comedy Happy Hour: 5:30 p.m. Aug. 10
  • Maraya Movement Workshop: 10 a.m. Aug. 14
  • SoulKiss Night at the Globe: 5:30 p.m. Aug. 24

Summer Shakespeare

“Thinking Shakespeare LOVE!”: July 16-18. Old Globe Artistic Director Barry Edelstein and the seven 2021 graduates in the Old Globe and University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Theatre Program will present romantic excerpts from William Shakespeare’s plays, poems and songs on the outdoor stage. Performance are at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $20 and go on sale at noon June 11.

Live theater

Three-play subscriptions are now on sale.

  • “Hair”: Aug. 10-Sept. 26. The classic 1967 “age of Aquarius” musical, directed by James Vásquez. (Lowell Davies Festival Theatre)
  • “The Gardens of Anuncia”: Sept. 10-Oct. 17. The Globe-commissioned world premiere musical by Michael John LaChiusa is inspired by the life story of Argentina-born Broadway legend Graciela Daniele, who will direct and choreograph the show. (Old Globe Theatre)
  • “Shutter Sisters”: Oct. 7-Nov. 7. Globe-commissioned world premiere play by Mansa Ra is the story of two mothers, one Black and one White, living parallel lives on the hardest days of their lives. Donya K. Washington directs. (Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre)
  • “Trouble in Mind”: Feb. 5-March 13, 2022. Old Globe resident artist Delicia Turner Sonnenberg directs this 1955 classic by Alice Childress’s backstage drama about a Black actress and multiracial cast rehearsing a challenging new Broadway play set in the South. (Old Globe Theatre)
  • “El Borracho” — Feb. 17-March 20, 2022. Edward Torres directs this world premiere tragicomedy by Tony Meneses about an estranged family brought back together in the father’s final days. (Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre)

Details for additional 2021 productions, including holiday programming, will be announced at a later time. Plans for the remaining productions postponed during 2020 (“Little Women,” “Faceless,” “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank,” “Dial M for Murder,” “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Henry V”) are also pending.

Virtual theater

  • “Krapp’s Last Tape”: Samuel Beckett’s 1958 one-act about an aging clown ruminating over recordings made in his younger days will star actor Ron Cephas Jones (“This Is Us”) and will be directed for film by Globe resident artist Patricia McGregor. It will be available for free streaming soon at youtube.com/user/theoldglobe.
  • “Anonymous Biography”: Based on the work of Argentinian writer Juan José Saer, this world-premiere play by Johanna McKeon stars Rey Lucas playing a collection of Saer’s fictional characters whose experiences highlight the human experience. It will be available for free streaming soon at youtube.com/user/theoldglobe.
  • “Dear Jack, Dear Louise: Love Letter Experience”: Begins June 15. Ken Ludwig’s stage play about his parents’ courtship by letter during World War II has been transformed into a replica series of their actual letters, photos and telegrams that will be sent to ticket-buyers’ mailboxes. The first set of mailings begins June 15. Another series will begin July 1 and will continue on the 1st and 15th of each month while supplies last. Tickets for donors and subscribers are $35 and go on sale June 2. General tickets are $35 and go on sale June 9.
  • “On This Spot: It Happened Here!”: Begins June 15. Conceived and written by Katherine Harroff and directed by James Vásquez, this walking tour of five spots in Balboa Park features actors re-creating the stories of real people’s life-changing moments at places around Balboa Park. The videos will be activated by aiming a cellphone at QR codes on posted signs. Free. No reservations required.

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