Theater Notebook: San Diego Rep’s eight-show 2021-22 season begins in October

Headshots of San Diego Rep playwrights Octavio Solis, Ali Viterbi, Herbert Siguenza and Michael Gene Sullivan.
Featured playwrights for San Diego Rep’s 2021-2022 season, clockwise from top left, Octavio Solis, Ali Viterbi, Herbert Siguenza and Michael Gene Sullivan.
(Courtesy of San Diego Repertory Theatre)

Also this week: Moonlight’s Belle has a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ pedigree


San Diego Repertory Theatre announced a 2021-22 season this week that includes a world premiere, a Shakespeare-inspired musical and the regional premiere of the Tony Award-winning play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”

San Diego Rep artistic director Sam Woodhouse said that when he was putting together the upcoming season, he wanted to find plays and musicals that were uplifting, diverse and enlightening.

“These are stories that are deep in empathy for the characters who tell the stories and the audience who listens. And across the sweep, a radical diversity of cultural voices and extraordinary playwriting,” he said.

Because of the lingering pandemic and uncertainty about COVID safety rules, many local theaters have held back on announcing new seasons or they’ve announced only limited plans. But Woodhouse said he wanted to announce a full yearlong series of shows to give subscribers a map to where the company will be going from October 2021 to November 2022. Seven shows were announced this week, with one to be announced at a later date.

The season won’t begun until October, Woodhouse said, because of construction work on a new elevator, flooring and seating at the Lyceum Theatre. Season subscriptions are now on sale at (619) 544-1000 or

“Mother Road”: Woodhouse will direct this 2019 play by Octavio Solis about the last surviving descendants of the Tom Joad family from John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel “The Grapes of Wrath.” An 80-year-old White descendant and his mixed-race Chicano farmworker relative take a road trip from California back to the Joads family farm in Oklahoma. Woodhouse says of the play: “Octavio’s very bold and brave in his writing, which is poetic and majestic.” Oct. 7-31

“She the People”: Originally announced for the 2020 season, this sketch-based comedy show by The Second City troupe features scenes written by, directed by and starring women. Nov. 18-Dec. 5

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”: Associate Artistic Director Todd Salovey directs Simon Stephens’ Tony- and Olivier award-winning 2012 stage adaptation of the 2003 British novel by Mark Haddon. It’s an adventure story about a 15-year-old English boy on the autism spectrum, whose attempt to discover the mystery of how his neighbor’s dog was killed unravels mysteries within his own family. Jan. 6-30.

“The Great Khan”: The Rep joins a rolling world premiere of this imaginative comedy by San Francisco playwright Michael Gene Sullivan’s, first presented locally in the 2021 Black Voices new play series. It’s the story of a 16-year-old Black boy whose book report on Genghis Khan comes to life when Khan climbs through his window and seeks to rewrite history from a more authentic perspective. March 3-27

“In Every Generation”: On the eve of the 2022 Lipinsky Family San Diego Jewish Arts Festival, Salovey will direct this new play by San Diego’s Ali Viterbi. It’s the story of one family’s Passover celebration; in this case, one family over many millennia, who share their sacred meal while grappling with questions of the past. May 26-June 19

“Twelfth Night”: William Shakespeare’s mistaken identity romantic comedy gets a modern twist in this 2018 jazz/funk/pop musical adaptation by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub. Woodhouse will direct and Javier Velasco will choreograph the fast-paced musical being presented in association with the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. July 28-Aug. 21, 2022

“Isaac Asimov Grandmaster Funk”: San Diego Rep playwright-in-residence Herbert Siguenza will star in the world premiere of his latest play, about the famed sci-fi writer getting a visitation from Black aliens from Outer Space who urge him to publish a story with a Black superhero. The play will be directed by Thomas W. Jones II and will feature a 1970s Funkadelic/George Clinton score. Sept. 8-Oct. 2, 2022

TBA: The final production of the 2021-22 season has not been announced. Oct. 20-Nov. 13, 2022

Jenna Lea Rosen, right, in Moonlight Stage Productions now-running "Beauty and the Beast"
Jenna Lea Rosen, right, in Moonlight Stage Productions now-running “Beauty and the Beast” has a lifelong association with the musical.
(Ken Jacques)

‘Beauty and the Beast’ star’s backstory

To say Jenna Lea Rosen was born to play Belle in Moonlight Stage Productions’ current “Beauty and the Beast” production is no overstatement.

The 22-year-old Orange County resident was conceived while her parents were in the midst of a four-year run in the Broadway musical’s first national tour in the late 1990s. Her mom, Heather Hoppus, played a “Silly Girl” and her father, Grant Rosen, was a swing (meaning he could play multiple roles) and was the stunt Beast in the show.

Hoppus left the tour when she was six months into her pregnancy when she could no longer fit in her corset, then rejoined the tour 10 weeks after Jenna was born. Hoppus said the advice she gave her daughter on playing Belle is to “stay in the moment and that the characters are real and to find the humanity of each character. ... Really take it all in because it’s a special time.”

Besides making her role debut as the Disney heroine at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista this summer, Rosen has also worked extensively as a voice actor and singer for multiple shows on the Disney Channel, including “Sofia the First,” “Descendants 3,” “Elena of Avalor,” “DuckTales” and “Fancy Nancy.”

“Beauty and the Beast” runs through Aug. 7. Visit

Kragen writes about theater for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at