The Old Globe (Copley Plaza, Balboa Park, 619/234-5623, www.oldglobe.org, box office daily noon–6 p.m. or end of show), one of the most famous theater complexes in California, sits in the middle of Balboa Park.
Originally constructed to produce abbreviated Shakespeare plays for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition, the magnificent Old Globe was remodeled to permanence in 1937. It has been producing a full season ever since, growing to add two auxiliary theaters: the Cassius Carter Centre Stage and the Lowell Davis Festival Stage.
The Old Globe, restored to its original magnificence after a fire in 1978, seats almost 600 people, and has produced world premieres of plays such as Into the Woods and The Full Monty that go on to become Broadway spectaculars and worldwide hits. If you can get a ticket to something new at the Old Globe, you may find yourself seeing history being made.
The Old Globe theaters are reminiscent of the complex at the legendary Ashland Shakespeare festival. The huge outdoor Lowell Davis facility can seat almost 700 spectators and puts up shows during the summer and fall festival season. The smaller Cassius Carter Stage presents theater in the round, in an intimate black-box-style setting.
See the website for a list of the shows playing at each theater, as well as for ticket sales and seating charts. At the Copley Theater complex, enjoy a snack and a drink at Lady Carolyn’s Pub or browse for souvenirs at the gift shop.
For a night of high budget, fabulous Broadway theater or an adventurous off-center world premiere, check out a show at the La Jolla Playhouse (La Jolla Village Dr. and Gilman Dr., 858/550-1010, www.lajollaplayhouse.com, box office Sun.–Mon. noon–7 p.m., Tues.–Wed. noon–7:30 p.m., Thurs.–Sat. noon–8 p.m., shows Tues.–Sun.). This top-tier theater company produces big musicals, small experimental plays, historical dramas, and everything in between.
Check the website for this year’s main season schedule as well as the off-season “The Edge” plays. The Playhouse actually encompasses a building complex with three separate theaters.
Originally created by an ensemble of Hollywood actors, the Playhouse delights in showing off both well-known popular shows and great world premieres. Look for originality in sets and costuming, as well as top-notch acting.
For a charming night out on the North Coast, grab a seat at the North Coast Repertory Theater (987 Lomas Santa Fe Dr., Solano Beach, 858/481-1055, http://northcoastrep.org, shows Wed.–Sun.). The North Coast Rep produces about eight shows each year, including musicals, dramas, comedies, and family favorites. With ticket prices at around $20 per show, a laid-back evening of good repertory theater isn’t hard to obtain.
The theater at Lomas Santa Fe Plaza is located conveniently near I-5 and the Del Mar Racetrack, for easy access after a day’s sightseeing.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition