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Theater Notebook: La Jolla Playhouse plans world premiere musical based on ‘The Outsiders’

The American folk duo Jamestown Revival
The American folk duo Jamestown Revival will create the score for La Jolla Playhouse’s world premiere musical “The Outsiders,” opening in February 2023.
(Courtesy of Jackie Lee)

Also this week, the Playhouse announced a gender-bending Shakespeare comedy and 12 more Without Walls shows

La Jolla Playhouse announced Monday the final two productions of the 2022-23 season this week. It has also unveiled a dozen more shows that will be featured this spring at its annual Without Walls (WOW) Festival, taking place in April.

Joining the season in February-March 2023 will be “The Outsiders,” a world premiere musical based on S.E. Hinton’s 1967 novel about two rival teen boy gangs fighting over turf in 1960s Oklahoma. It will feature a book by Pulitzer Prize finalist Adam Rapp (“The Sound Inside”) and a score by Jamestown Revival, an American folk duo comprised of Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance, and Tony winner Justin Levine (“Bonfire Night”). Obie Award winner Danya Taymor will direct.

Completing the 2022 season will be a gender-bending production of William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” co-directed by Tony-winning Playhouse artistic director Christopher Ashley and Helen Hayes Award-winning Will Davis (“Men in Boats”). The production will run in November and December of this year.

Ashley said he’s wanted to direct “As You Like It” for a long time and the play’s scenes of exile and self-examination in the forest seemed appropriate after two years of pandemic: “It’s a delight to be working with the fantastically talented Will Davis on a fresh, gender-fluid interpretation of Shakespeare’s timeless comedy.”

These two shows join the previously announced “Lempicka,” “Here There are Blueberries,” “Fandango for Butterflies (and Coyotes)” and “Mother Russia.” Details at lajollaplayhouse.org/2022-2023-season-announced/.

"C’est pas là, c’est par là (It’s not here, it’s over here)," from France's Galmae theater
“C’est pas là, c’est par là (It’s not here, it’s over here),” from France’s Galmae theater company, will be featured at La Jolla Playhouse’s 2022 Without Walls Festival April 21 through 24.
(La Jolla Playhouse)

Final WOW shows unveiled

In January, the Playhouse announced the first nine shows planned for its annual Without Walls Festival in the Arts District at Liberty Station in Point Loma from April 21-24. This week, it announced the remaining 12 shows, which are listed below. The full lineup can be found at lajollaplayhouse.org/without-walls.

“40 Watts from Nowhere” from Mister and Mischief, Los Angeles: Audience members enter a DJ booth where they can play music and share their voices in an experiential live documentary on the true story of magazine editor-turned-radio pirate Sue Carpenter, who created an illegal radio station for musical misfits in the closet of her home in the L.A. community of Silver Lake.

“The Box Show” from Dominique Salerno, New York: Salerno plays 30 characters from inside a small box, ranging from a drunken couple in Las Vegas to a lonely giantess, a lost pope and the entire Greek army.

New York actor Dominique Salerno will play 30 characters inside a box in "The Box Show."
(CSI Rental)

C’est pas là, c’est par là (It’s not here, it’s over here)” from Galmae, France: This ensemble piece involves creating a large, tangled web of yarn that people create, move through and disentangle. It represents how humans move when they’re alone or in a crowd and how they find their space.

“Finding Avi” from Katherine Wilkinson and Elizagrace Madrone, New York: This interactive audio walking tour is geared for young queer audiences. Structured around a familiar Western fairy tale, audience members can make nonbinary decisions and explore the possibility that quests and stories don’t have neat and simple endings.

“The Four Seasons” from San Diego Ballet: This site-specific walk-though performance will feature dancers performing outdoors to Vivaldi’s famous violin concerto with four movements themed to the seasons.

“In Lieu of FLWRZ” from Soulkiss Theater, San Diego: This multisite performance highlights theater, dance and the music of local San Diego-based R&B, soul and hip-hop music artists. It’s about the death of a queer couple’s relationship due to an act of infidelity.

“Just a Phase” from Malashock Dance, San Diego: Eight dancers will present 10 short contemporary dance pieces representing phases in everyone’s lives, including childhood, adolescence, independence, relationships and community.

The Music Sounds Different to Me Now” from Bill Wright, San Diego: This dance and music piece will feature “Jody” throwing her annual party for her gang of singer-dancer friends, who will tap into stories from their lives, both funny and poignant.

The Mystery of Secrets” from San Diego Dance Theatre: Four choreographers will create mysterious and improvisational dance pieces at sites around the festival hub in the Arts District. Besides SDDT dancers, there will be community dancers and performers from Flamenco Sur.

“Somnium” from The Rosin Box Project, San Diego: This new ballet centered around and on the architecture of Liberty Station will combine dance, projection mapping and music to create an immersive, multisensory experience.

A sheet of plexiglass separates two theatergoers for La Jolla Playhouse's "A Thousand Ways (The Encounter)"
A sheet of plexiglass separates two theatergoers for La Jolla Playhouse’s “An Encounter,” the second piece of its Without Walls Festival show “A Thousand Ways.”
(Pam Kragen/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“A Thousand Ways (Part 3): An Assembly” from 600 Highwaymen, New York: The final piece of an interactive, three-part theater project the Playhouse began in February 2021 as a way to create community between strangers during pandemic-related quarantine. The finale will bring together past participants in groups of 12 to form structures using notecards as an audience watches.

“TransMythical” from Animal Cracker Conspiracy, San Diego: This 30-minute process through the Arts District will feature giant puppets, masked characters and musicians on a journey of magic, imagination and inclusivity.

They join the previously announced shows: “Ants” from Polyglot Theatre, Australia; “Ascension” from San Diego Opera; “Black Séance” from Blindspot Collective, San Diego; “La Bulle” from CORPUS, Canada; “The Frontera Project” from Tijuana Hace Teatro, Mexico, & New Feet Productions, New York; “Lessons in Temperament” from Outside the March, Canada; “Monuments” from Craig Walsh, Australia; “On Her Shoulders We Stand” from TuYo Theatre, San Diego.

The festival will also feature a devised theater project featuring 33 visual and performing arts students from San Diego high schools, and the Playhouse’s 2022 Performance Outreach Program (POP) Tour show “Hoopla!”

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


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