Theater Notebook: Moonlight’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ breaks 40-year box office record

Jenna Lea Rosen and Michael Deni in Moonlight Stage Productions' "Beauty and the Beast.
(Adriana Zuniga)

This week’s San Diego theater report with news from Cygnet Theatre, the Old Globe and San Diego Rep


Despite the lingering effects of the pandemic, Moonlight Stage Productions’ recent outdoor production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” was the highest-grossing production in the Vista theater company’s 40-year history.

During its three-week run, which was expanded with three additional performances due to sellouts early in the run July 21-Aug. 8, “Beauty and the Beast” drew 27,298 audience members for a combined $878,774 in ticket sales, the company announced.

While that’s a good sign that theater audiences are eager to return, at least to outdoor productions, there’s another factor at play in the show’s success. Four other musicals in Moonlight’s historic top 10 also have Disney roots, and Moonlight is a popular venue for families.

Here are the rest of the Moonlight’s top 10 shows in order of sales: “Mamma Mia!” (2018); “West Side Story” (2019); “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” (2017); “Disney’s Newsies” (2018); “Disney’s Mary Poppins” (2014); “Chicago” (2018); “In the Heights” (2017); “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” which is based, in part, on a Disney animated film (2018); and “Matilda” (2019).

Moonlight will finish its four-show summer season with “A Chorus Line” and “On Your Feet: The Musical – The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan.” Visit

The Old Globe production of "Hair, the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical."
(Jim Cox)

‘Hair’ and ‘La Cage’ extend

In another promising sign for local theaters, the Old Globe and Cygnet Theatre have announced one-week extensions for their season-opening musicals.

The Old Globe’s “Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” will now run through Oct. 3 in an outdoor production now playing on the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre stage in Balboa Park. For tickets, visit

Cygnet Theatre has also added a week to its upcoming production of “La Cage aux Folles,” opening Sept. 10. It will now play through Nov. 7 on the company’s indoor Old Town Theatre stage. Cygnet was the first theater in San Diego County to announce vaccine and mask rules for ticket-buyers, a decision that its co-founders Sean Murray and Bill Schmidt said last month was warmly received by its patrons. For tickets, visit

Frankie Alicea-Ford has joined Diversionary Theatre in the new position of associate artistic director.
Frankie Alicea-Ford has joined Diversionary Theatre in the newly created position of associate artistic director.
(Diversionary Theatre)

Diversionary announced staff addition

Frankie Alicea-Ford has joined Diversionary Theatre this month in the newly created position of associate artistic director.

In his new position, Alicea-Ford will work with executive artistic director Matt M. Morrow on producing the theatrical season and its new cabaret programming. He’ll also work with Skyler Sullivan, director of arts education and outreach on Diversionary’s educational curriculum and programming. Before joining Diversionary, Alicea-Ford was serving as artist in residence at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad, where he directed NVA’s Teatro Pueblo Nuevo bilingual outreach initiative.

Morrow said he’s grateful to have Alicea-Ford’s partnership at Diversionary, which is the third-oldest LGBTQ theater in the country.

“His energy, enthusiasm and incisive point of view are what the future of our industry looks like,” Morrow said in a statement. “I believe our collaboration and his leadership will create an even stronger and more artistically ambitious Diversionary than ever before.”

In a statement about his appointment, Alicea-Ford said: “Having an opportunity to produce, lift up and create space for other queer and allied artists is a sacred responsibility and one that I am eager to take on. ... I am looking forward to creating real, meaningful change and art for my queer community.”

Educated at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Alicea-Ford has been working professionally in the theater industry since 2012, including serving as residential director of the Center for Creative Youth based at Wesleyan University. He now works as a teaching artist with La Jolla Playhouse, among other venues.

Star presents ‘Air Turbulence’ comedy

Oceanside’s Star Theatre Company is presenting the world premiere of “Air Turbulence, a Comedy at 30,000 Feet.”

Co-written by Daniel Watts and David Schulz, it’s a high-flying comedy about a jetliner filled with quirky people who begin spilling their secrets as the plane encounters more and more turbulence. Performances for the PG-13-rated play are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 29. Visit

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