Theater Notebook: Cygnet Theatre to kick off 2021-22 season in September with reprise of ‘La Cage’

Cygnet Theatre will open its 2021-2022 season with a reprise of "La Cage aux Folles"
Cygnet Theatre will open its 2021-22 season with a reprise of “La Cage aux Folles,” a show that had just one performance before it closed in March 2020.
(Courtesy photo by Karli Cadel)

Also this week: Management changes at New Village Arts in Carlsbad


Cygnet Theatre will return to full production in September, kicking off a six-show season with a reprise of “La Cage aux Folles” and ending next summer with the Southern California premiere of “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812.”

Cygnet co-founder and artistic director Sean Murray said his mission for the company’s first season back, after what will be an 18-month break, was to avoid “angry plays” and instead offer returning theatergoers a heartwarming escape.

“As we were working together on play selections, I kept steering everybody toward plays about people that were about hope, redemption, coming to the end of something, healing and a sense of community,” Murray said. “They’re about people trying to rise above a situation and take care of each other.”

Over the past year, Cygnet has installed a new HVAC system and other safety measures to ensure an unrestricted return to full-scale theater productions.

As promised to subscribers, the first show back will be “La Cage,” the comedy musical that had just one performance under its belt before all San Diego theaters shut down in March 2020 due to the pandemic. Single tickets to the musical are now on sale starting at $20. Season subscriptions will open for sale July 21 at (619) 337-1525 or

Here’s a look at Cygnet’s 2021-2022 season:

“La Cage aux Folles”: The company will remount this musical comedy about a longtime gay couple whose son’s impending marriage into a right-wing politician’s family leads them to cover up their flamboyant lifestyle. The sets and costumes will be dusted off and virtually all of the 2020 cast and production team will reunite for this show. Because three cast members dropped out, Murray said he has recast the roles with more diversity in mind. Sept. 10-Oct. 24

“A Christmas Carol”: After presenting its annual Dickens Christmas show in 2020 as a filmed solo play, the full musical spectacular returns live for its 10th season. Murray, who adapted and directed the show, said a few roles have been recast to give the show a fresh perspective. Nov. 23-Dec. 26

“Life Sucks”: Playwright Aaron Posner’s 2018 comedic reimagination of “Uncle Vanya” finds Chekhov’s seven characters trapped together in the same home pondering their pasts, present and future. It will be directed by Cygnet associate artistic director Rob Lutfy, who directed Posner’s “Stupid F*ing Bird” in 2016. Jan. 26-Feb. 27, 2022

“Water by the Spoonful”: This 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Quiara Alegría Hudes is about an Iraq War veteran with PTSD battling his demons and his mom, who counsel fellow recovering addicts in an online forum. Last produced locally by the Old Globe in 2014, “Water” will be helmed by guest director Meg DeBoard. “To me that play is really about healing and the community serving as a net to help people who are having trouble. It’s the most loving, forgiving play. I was devastated when I read it,” Murray said. March 24-April 24, 2022

TBA: An as-yet unnamed play will be directed by Moxie Theatre co-founder and freelance director Delicia Turner Sonnenberg.May 18-June 19, 2022

“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”: Based on a scene in Leo Tolstoy’s epic Russian novel “War and Peace,” this 2012 electropop opera by Dave Malloy and Rachel Chavkin is a love triangle between an impulsive young woman who falls for a roguish seducer and her lovestruck neighbor. Murray, who directs, said he has been after the rights to this musical for the past five years: “The show is amazing and a lot of fun. I want to try to bring as much of that interactive quality into the audience as we can create.” July 13-Aug. 21, 2022

New Village Arts revamps its staff

Over the past several months, New Village Arts has undergone major management changes. Kristianne Kurner, the 20-year-old Carlsbad theater’s founding executive artistic director, and her board have appointed a new team of administrators.

This month, six-year managing director Alex Goodman left for a new job as director of philanthropy at the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum. In May, six-year director of connectivity AJ Knox left for a scriptwriting position with Raindrop Marketing agency. And Frankie Alicea-Ford, who was appointed an artist in residence last year at New Village, has recently been appointed associate artistic director at Diversionary Theatre, though he remains listed on the New Village website.

Joining the company in new roles are Joan Cumming as interim managing director while a search is under way for Goodman’s replacement. During this time, Cumming will step down from her role as president of New Village’s board of directors. Cumming most recently served as vice president of marketing for San Diego Symphony and has had a 40-year career in the performing arts, mainly for major Los Angeles arts institutions.

Amanda Jordan has joined the team as marketing director and Sakshi Tiwari is the new manager of connectivity.

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