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Theater Notebook: Lamb’s Players Theatre to launch new season with comeback concert in July

Lamb's Players Theatre is planning a 50-year anniversary holiday show that will open Nov. 26.
(Courtesy of Lamb’s Players Theatre)

This week’s local theater report with news from the San Diego Theatres Hall of Fame and San Diego Rep

Lamb’s Players Theatre will launch its comeback season next month, with its first live performance before an audience on July 8 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. But it will be several months before it can resume live shows again inside its home theater in Coronado.

Artistic director Robert Smyth said the company is eager to return to production, but several factors have led the company to delay a speedy return.

“We thought when we made that decision, that was based on instinct and looking at everything out there. We thought it would give us time to clear the pandemic and for people’s courage to come back. It also gives us the chance to get through a Coronado summer. So many people have had a pent-up desire to travel for so long that you can’t find a place to park anywhere in Coronado. So we want to make a gradual move toward the season,” he said.

Another reason for caution, he said, is the list of requirements that the labor union for theater artists, Actor’s Equity, has created for COVID safety. They are so strict and expensive, he said, that Lamb’s, and most other indoor theater operators, have delayed their reopenings until hopefully union rules are loosened.

Smyth said it’s possible other shows may be added to the schedule but plans for that are not available yet. Season memberships go on sale July 1 at lambsplayers.org. Here’s a look at the upcoming season:

Lamb’s Gospel Cabaret: For one night only, Lamb’s musical artists will perform a program of gospel music at the Moonlight Amphitheatre at 1250 Vale Terrace Drive in Vista. Smyth said: “It’s the theater’s comeback after being closed for a year-and-a-half. ... We hope it’s the comeback of our audience as well.” 7:30 p.m. July 8

“The Belle of Amherst”: Lamb’s company member Cynthia Gerber will star in this solo play that takes a humorous and moving look at American poet Emily Dickinson. It will be the first season show presented at the home theater, 1142 Orange Ave., Coronado. Oct. 2-Nov. 14

“Christmas 2021: Celebrating Lamb’s 50 Years”: Instead of the usual “Festival of Christmas” production, Lamb’s will host a program with five decades of music from its annual holiday shows. “We decided this would be the show where celebrate our 50th anniversary, rather than a gala. We have so much great Christmas stuff to share,” Smyth said. Nov. 26-Dec. 26

“The Hound of the Baskervilles”: Smyth said the company is now deciding between a few different theatrical takes on this classic Sherlock Holmes mystery. Jan. 22-March 20, 2022

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T”: Kerry Meads and Vanda Eggington, the writing team behind some of Lamb’s biggest shows, “Boomers” and “American Rhythm,” are writing a new musical revue that will celebrate the music of the great female singers of the 1960s, including Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, Dionne Warwick, Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, Brenda Lee and more. April 2-June 12, 2022

“Million Dollar Quartet”: One of Lamb’s biggest successes in recent years, this scripted play with music recreates the real-life one-night-only recording session by Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. July 9-Sept. 25, 2022

Sylvia M'Lafi Thompson will be the first Legacy Award recipient for the newly formed San Diego Theatres Hall of Fame
Sylvia M’Lafi Thompson will be the first Legacy Award recipient for the newly formed San Diego Theatres Hall of Fame Project on Aug. 30.
(Courtesy photo)

New hall of fame awards to honor Thompson

Antonio TJ Johnson, a veteran actor, director and teacher with more than 40 years of experience on San Diego theaters, will soon launch a hall of fame project that will present legacy awards to local artists who he said have “contributed to the fabric” of the San Diego theater community.

The San Diego Theatres Hall of Fame is a project of Common Ground Theatre, one of the nation’s oldest Black theaters, and Johnson’s own The Vagabond Theatre Project. Its inaugural event will be held on Aug. 30 at an as-yet undetermined time and location.

At that event, the very first legacy award will be given to Sylvia M’Lafi Thompson, an award-winning actor and teacher who has been involved in the San Diego theater and music scene for decades.

“She has been a significant part of our community from running a neighborhood jazz festival, to becoming a multi=award winning actress a teacher and a community activist,” Johnson said in an email.

To help support the project and get more details about the event, email Johnson at tjoutofjob@gmail.com or Common Ground artistic director Yolanda Franklin at Missyolandafranklin@yahoo.com.

San Diego Rep to stream ’57 Chevy’

San Diego Repertory Theatre has announced that its upcoming production of Cris Franco’s play “57 Chevy,” starring Culture Clash co-founder Ric Salinas, will be presented as a filmed production that will stream July 26 through Aug. 15. Ticket information can be found at sdrep.org.

Kragen writes about theater for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at pam.kragen@sduniontribune.com.


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