Theater Notebook: Backyard Renaissance announces three-show season at new home theater

A cast photo for Backyard Renaissance Theatre's "Abigail's Party."
A cast photo for “Abigail’s Party,” which opens Backyard Renaissance Theatre’s seventh season on Feb. 24.
(Daren Scott)

Backyard Renaissance Theatre, which spent its first six seasons moving from venue to venue, has announced its seventh season and a new home theater space.

All three shows of the coming season, which begins later this month and runs through December, will take place at the Tenth Avenue Arts Center at 930 10th Ave. in East Village. In addition to the three full productions, the season will include short-term events like the fourth annual Live Lip Sync Face-Off and Bad B-Movie Staged Readings. For tickets and more details, visit Here’s the lineup:

” Abigail’s Party” by Mike Leigh: Described as a suburban comedy of manners, this wicked satire is about a 1970s-era woman whose plans to host a cocktail party goes awry with a mix of scandals, gossip and suburban drama. Directed by Rosina Reynolds, it features a cast of five. Feb 24 through March 19.

“Steel Magnolias” by Robert Harling: This bittersweet 1987 off-Broadway smash is the story of Southern women who meet regularly at a hair salon to gather, gossip and support one another through sometimes heartbreaking tragedies. Directed by Anthony Methvin, this will be the first production of “Steel Magnolias” in San Diego in a decade. Aug. 25 through Sept. 12.

“The October Night of Johnny Zero” by Francis Gercke: This world premiere play is based in the Delaware Valley on events real and imagined. It’s a true crime/science fiction tale about two high school classmates exploring the myths and monsters that lurk beneath the surface of small-town American life. Nov. 17 through Dec. 10.

Pacific Lyric debuts youth symphony

Pacific Lyric Association, an Escondido-based opera company, will introduce its new youth symphony in an inaugural concert later this month.

The orchestra will perform Tchaikovsky’s overture to “Romeo and Juliet” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido.

The Pacific Lyric Association Youth Symphony is open to graduate and post-graduate-level college players ages 18 to 32. The orchestra is conducted by Pacific Lyric artistic director Alexandra Keegan. Youth musicians will receive a small stipend and will play side by side with 12 professional musician-mentors.

“This youth symphony is a wonderful addition to our opera company. It will provide young players with professional experience, much needed financial support, and new connections,” Keegan said.

Founded in L.A. in 2009 by retired physician and opera singer Carlos Oliva, PLA has produced annual opera productions in the 404-seat Center Theater at the Escondido arts center since 2013. In 2019, local conductor and pianist Justin Gray and Keegan took the reins of the organization when Oliva retired. PLA’s mission is to provide an appealing introduction to opera for first-timers, students and youth. Its operas are slightly condensed and sung in their original language but with the sung recitative portions replaced with spoken English-language vignettes to set the scene between songs.

PLA’s 2022 opera production, which will feature the PLA Youth Symphony in the pit, is Georges Bizet’s “Carmen,” which will run for six performances Oct. 14 through 23. For more, visit

Bodhi Tree and opera news

Diana DuMelle, co-founder and co-director of San Diego’s Bodhi Tree Concerts, is in New York this week serving as production stage manager for New York City Opera’s world premiere production of “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, a new opera by Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie, based on the novel by Giorgio Bassani.

Pulitzer Prize-winning San Diego composer Anthony Davis, who’s creating a new opera for Bodhi Tree Concerts, “Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote,” will have another of his works, “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” produced by the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 2023.

And finally, San Diego contralto Sharmay Musacchio, who regularly appears with Bodhi Tree, recently created the role of Iphigenia the Elder in the world premiere of Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding’s jazz opera “ ... (Iphigenia),”which was presented in December at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

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