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San Diego, California

San Diego: Theater

San Diego is noted for its weather, its oceanside locale, its federal military machine, its downtown development and its phenomenal growth (it’s the eight largest city in the United States, having expanded its population by about 500,000 — the equivalent of one Seattle — over the last 30 years alone). Live theater has a major place among its many legends; it’s home to the acclaimed La Jolla Playhouse and the nearly 80-year-old Old Globe Theatre, two of the few remaining American venues that produce their own seasons.

The city’s approximately 45 remaining groups are perhaps lesser known by name—but their seasons include all manner of genre and scope, featuring work from two major universities, a Broadway-style touring producer, a nationally renowned young playwrights group, one of the country’s only artist-directed companies and a generous sprinkling of small venues with big ideas and a bigger social consciousness. And three new facilities opened in the area in the last month, one of which features a 500-seat outdoor amphitheater.

There’s a sweeping diversity to all this, fueled by San Diego theater’s greatest virtue—balance. Perhaps except for Shakespeare, local theater is remarkably unsaturated, with room for newer groups to grow and thrive alongside the efforts of seasoned professionals. The play selections offer everything from the radically avant garde to traditional modern and pre-modern fare, presented by a theater community that in its busiest seasons numbers around 20,000.

Tourists and new residents don’t have to look far for generous discounts on virtually all theater admissions ( They’ll learn what the natives already know—that theater holds as formidable a place as any local attraction you’ll find. (Martin Jones Westlin)

San Diego Theater: Theater Around San Diego

Below are our San Diego Theater recommendations, with information on location, admission, transportation/parking, theater history and other points of interest in San Diego Art.

Broadway San Diego

Part of the nationally recognized Nederlander Producing Company of America, Broadway/San Diego made its debut as the San Diego Playgoers in 1976. For several years, that company presented shows at the Fox Theatre (now Copley Symphony Hall) and the Spreckels Theatre before establishing a permanent home at the San Diego Civic Theatre in 1986, with occasional presentations at the other venues. ...more...

Cygnet Theatre Company

Founded in 2002, Cygnet has in a short time made a big splash on the San Diego arts scene. In less than ten years, this fearless troupe has amassed over 60 area awards and been awarded a ten year lease by the California Department of Parks and Recreation for residency of the renowned Old Town Theatre in the San Diego State Historic Park. The company’s rather audacious yearly line up …more…

Diversionary Theatre

Founded on the mission for theatre reflecting the experience of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, the Divisionary company has evolved into a thriving arena for world premieres and area debuts. Staying true to queer its roots, the Divisonary’s six show season includes a well rounded roster of contemporary comedy, drama and musicals from playwrights like Terrence McNally, Tony Kushner and Douglas Carter Beene, while its yearly Queer Theatre …more…

La Jolla Playhouse

Innovative new plays, unexpected adaptations, experimental theater pieces, and classics are on display on every La Jolla Playhouse season schedule. In addition, La Jolla Playhouse has become a Broadway breeding ground of sorts with Jersey Boys, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Cry-Baby, Memphis, I Am My Own Wife, The Farnsworth Invention, and Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays all having begun at this theater.

The Playhouse has also done something extraordinary in establishing the Performance …more…

Lamb’s Players Theatre

The Lambs Players, now in its 40th year, operates two homes: one in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter, the other on quaint Coronado Island. As a repertory company featuring a resident group of actors and designers, the Lambs Players presents a comfortable blend of classic (The Glass Menagerie, The Fantasticks) and new (The Light in the Piazza, MiX Tape) with an education program that travels to local schools. The company’s …more…

Mo‘olelo Performing Arts Company

The Mo’Olelo (which means ‘story’ in Hawaiian) is one of San Diego’s most unique new theatrical companies. Named so for its mantra of multi-cultural theatrical exploration, the Mo’Olelo began in 2004 and has produced 8 seasons of rarely seen works and world premieres developed at the company’s home at the 10th Avenue Theatre. In 2010, Mo’Olelo announced a new “Tuesdays at the 10th” play reading series geared to provide high …more…

Moonlight Stage Productions

Moonlight Stage Productions is located in Vista, a northern suburb of San Diego. As the cultural arts program of Vista’s Recreation and Community Services Department, it presents shows at two venues: the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Brengle Terrace Park, and the AVO Playhouse in Vista Village.

In the amphitheatre, the company offers Broadway musicals under the stars during the summer months. In the AVO, it offers a diverse line-up of comedies, dramas, …more…

North Coast Repertory Theatre (Solana Beach, CA)

North Coast Repertory Theatre Information

Public Transportation: Fair (a 10-minute walk from bus 308 at Lomas Santa Fe Drive/Solana Hills Drive)
Handicapped Accessibility: Good
Performances/Programs: Performance schedule is Wednesday–Sunday
Ticket Prices: Single tickets are $28–$48. Discounts are available to active duty military, students, educators and seniors for most performances. Ticket exchanges are $2 for non-subscribers
Subscriptions: 7-Show season subscriptions $162–$255; students, seniors, and military, $155–$241. Subscriber benefits include free unlimited ticket exchanges and ticket insurance.

San Diego Repertory Theatre (San Diego Rep)

Honored in 2005 by the San Diego Critic’s Circle for “30 Years of Artistic Dedication to Downtown and Diversity,” San Diego Rep has made it its mission to excite and ignite local audiences with the power of provocative theatre. During the course of its history, the company has presented local premieres from playwrights like David Mamet and Sam Shepherd, along with long running productions such as the musical Six Women …more…

Starlight Theatre

(NOTE: As of March 2012, the Starlight is on indefinite hiatus for legal restructuring.)

Launched in 1945 as one of the country’s original “Civic Light Opera” organizations, Starlight has throughout its history presented countless operettas and big Broadway musicals outside ‘under the stars’ at the San Diego Starlight Bowl. Somewhat diminished from its hey day in the 70s and 80s, Starlight currently presents a three show summer season offering traditional large …more…

The Old Globe

There’s a little bit of England nestled in beautiful Balboa Park, where you’ll find the Old Globe Theatre, originally built in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exposition and modeled after Shakespeare’s own Globe Theater. However, it’s in the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre where the Old Globe does its three Shakespeare productions under the stars each summer. The other dozen shows that fill out the season (musicals, new plays, …more…