By Diana Saenger
Marking 30 years as an entertainment organization is a milestone and one David Ellenstein, artistic director of the North Coast Repertory Theatre, is proud to celebrate.
Since 1982, the nonprofit theater has entertained audiences with nearly every genre of story, and has managed to stay relevant and vibrant in a county alive with prestigious theater.
With no enormous budget for productions, no lengthy staff roster or list of operating improvements, North Coast Rep has maintained steady attendance through its choice of timely, engaging plays. The 30th season has just been announced and looks to be as exciting as ever.
Ellenstein and Jay Sarno, 1st vice president, board of trustees, for North Coast Rep, answered some questions about its state of affairs and hoped for expansion.
Did the past season suffer any because of the economy?
Not at all.
What are your goals for the new season?
To create the best theater we ever have, increase attendance and contributed income, and draw new audiences.
Are there any special plans for the 30th year anniversary?
We are producing “The Lion In Winter,” a play from Season One to honor the anniversary. There will also be a 30th Anniversary kick-off party.
How are your one- and two-night only offerings doing?
For the most part, extremely well. With a mix of comedy, music, film-noir and standout productions, we aimed for audience diversification. We’re using our dark nights to present alternative entertainment with a different appeal than our main stage shows.
How is the community responding to kids’ camp?
Great. The attendance is growing every year. We’re looking forward to our best yet.
How do you want the community to perceive North Coast Rep?
As a top quality professional theater. Not a community theater, but a theater for the community that puts on world-class intimate productions.
What is the theater’s annual budget?
How are the plans for a new theater progressing?
It’s still a dream we plan on achieving. The staff and management are looking forward to the day when North Coast Rep can move into a new home where the work of the theater can flourish.
Ellenstein message on NCRT website: “North Coast Repertory Theatre has been offered a ground lease on which to build a new home in the Lomas Santa Fe Shopping Plaza. American Assets Inc., which owns the property, is proposing a major renovation of the entire center. As a result of this alternative, North Coast Rep is withdrawing from the Cedros Crossing Train Station Redevelopment Project.
We are very excited about this new opportunity and are looking forward to working with American Assets and the City of Solana Beach to build our new two-theater complex. The new building will be built in the parking area near our existing space. As more details of our plans and progress become available, we will post them on our site.”
North Coast Repertory Theater’s 30th season will run September-March with these eight shows on the marquee:
• “Lend Me a Tenor.” Sept. 10-Oct. 2, an award-winning Broadway screwball comedy
• “Heroes.” Oct. 22-Nov. 13, winner of the Laurence Olivier Best New Comedy award
• “The Lion in Winter.” Jan. 7-29, 2012, twelfth century monarchs struggle with marriage, family
• “Visiting Mister Green.” Feb. 18-March 11, examines stereotypes, family, loneliness and friendship
• “This.” April 7-29, melancholy comedy about a group of close friends entering the choppy waters of middle age
• “The Lover” and “The Dumb Waiter.” May 26-June 17, two from Harold Pinter
• “Dames at Sea.” July 7 - 29, A musical favorite
• “HENRY IV, Part 1.” March 2-18, Mira Costa College/North Coast Repertory Theatre co-production to be performed at Mira Costa College Theater. This show is not part of the regular season subscription.
Did you know?
In 1982, North Coast Rep’s founders, Tom Blakistone, an engineer and small-business entrepreneur, and his wife Olive were celebrating his retirement with a cruise to the Caribbean. Prior to their departure they had presented a business plan to the owner of a mall in Solana Beach to locate a new theatre on his property. Just before they left on their trip, they learned their proposal had been accepted and instead of retiring, they found themselves embarking on totally new careers.
Since opening, North Coast Rep has continued to provide an ever-increasing level of professionalism within each production. Initially an all-volunteer community theatre, North Coast Rep now operates under an Actors’ Equity contract.