By Kendra Sitton
Broadway San Diego’s 45th anniversary in November coincides with the theater reopening to national acts for locals to enjoy. The organization is resuming its 44th season which was canceled due to COVID-19 with “Alton Brown Live: Beyond the Eats” and the musical “Hairspray.” When “Hairspray” opens for the week of Nov. 16-21, Mayor Todd Gloria will issue a mayoral proclamation honoring the theater for bringing Broadway back to San Diego.
“Live performances like Broadway San Diego’s productions are part of our city’s cultural vibrancy. The return of their shows brings our city one step closer to restoring the lively theatre community that has been sorely missed these past two years,” said Mayor Gloria in a statement. “I appreciate Broadway San Diego’s support and cultivation of our local arts scene as well as their efforts to unite people through diverse opportunities and experiences.”
“Hairspray” is a local favorite and is helmed by homegrown talent: Jack O’Brien, the former artistic director of the Old Globe, is directing the musical.
“I don’t know that we could have asked for a better show to start our season,” said Vanessa Davis, general manager of Broadway San Diego.
Davis also explained that San Diego is clearly supportive of theater reopening. Alton Brown added a second night to the show due to its popular demand. Season ticket holders and her administrative team have enabled the theater to return for its 44th season despite the challenges of 2020.
“It’s impossible without the support of this community and without the team at Broadway San Diego. We have had season ticket holders trust us and ride this wave with us, stand by us and support us the whole way through,” she said.
Broadway San Diego is reopening slightly later than many of the other theaters. Hosting touring artists, not just local professionals, creates more logistical challenges. The tours and local theaters are all following regulations set by the Broadway League in New York that include a strict vaccine and testing regimen. Broadway San Diego has instituted a mask and vaccine mandate for theater–goers through Dec. 31 that is subject to being extended depending on local conditions.
“The wonderful thing is we have earned the trust of our season ticket holders. An overwhelming number of people have reached out to us about the mask and vaccine policy, in support,” Davis said.
Unlike other local theaters that scrapped plays intended for 2020 and made new selections, Broadway San Diego just adjusted the dates of their cancelled shows. The seven shows in the 44th season package are “Hairspray,” Tony Award Winning Best Musical “The Band’s Visit,” musical comedy “Tootsie,” 2019 Tony Award Winner “Hades Town,” movie adaptation “Pretty Woman: The Musical,” Aaron Sorkin’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and American classic “1776.” Other than “Hairspray,” all are coming to San Diego for the first time.
A few canceled shows from the 2019-2020 season are also being shown, starting with “My Fair Lady” in late November followed by La Jolla Playhouse-bred “Come From Away” and movie adaptation “Mean Girls.” A new show was also added to the rescheduled season: the 25th anniversary of “Rent.”
“We’re just thrilled to be bringing Broadway back to San Diego. I know that we weren’t alone with closures, but our industry — it was a catastrophic closure. Now we’re just going to do all we can to get back up and running and we’re well on our way,” Davis said.
For more information about these shows and to purchase tickets, visit www.broadwaysd.com.
— Kendra Sitton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.