By Charlene Baldridge
At the Balboa Theatre Jan. 23, Broadway San Diego (BSD) tossed itself a party celebrating 40 years. Barbara-Lee Edwards of CBS-TV Channel 8 acted as emcee of the event.
There was no birthday cake, just a lot of visual and aural frosting designed to entice onlookers to subscribe to what the organization describes as, “one of their biggest and most chart-topping seasons yet!”
One wonders by whose chart; it looks pretty much like more of the same thing they’ve been doing for the past 20 years at least.
We are, nonetheless, lucky to have the series here, presenting the latest Broadway tours under the auspices of A Nederlander Corp., whose Broadway San Diego Vice President Joe Kobryner, stated in a news release that he is thrilled with the 40th anniversary 2016–17 season, consisting of six touring shows, four additional events, and four shows remaining in the 2015-16 season.
Most of the shows are presented at the San Diego Civic Theatre, located at 1200 Third Ave., Downtown.
“We have everything from the classics that have thrilled audiences for years and are now reimagined to some of the biggest titles coming straight from Broadway,” Kobryner stated in the release.
An example of this would be “If/Then,” starring Idina Menzel, which played Jan. 5–10.
The filmed portions of the celebration consisted of clips from the upcoming shows and commercials for the season’s sponsor, San Diego County Credit Union (replete with the “money, money” TV ad that shows how much those other guys can ding you).
There were also filmed testimonials from satisfied BSD attendees who enjoy the benefits of membership in the President’s Club.
The promotional film also included an informative segment about the Ben Vereen Awards (the third annual local talent competition takes place at the Balboa Theatre May 29, with Vereen in attendance). The competition emphasizes the abundance of San Diego’s high school talent. The winners move on to compete in additional cities, including New York.
Though we expect to see portions of the film in the form of TV commercials this year, the live talent displayed Friday night at the Balboa was the best part of the celebration.
Tshidi Manye, who came direct from the Broadway “The Lion King” cast, sang “Circle of Life.” “The Lion King” returns to San Diego for the third time, Sept. 7–Oct. 2, (the first time in seven years).
Danielle Dalli from the touring company of “The Sound of Music” (directed by former Old Globe Artistic Director Jack O’Brien) closed the evening with the title song from that show plus the inspirational number, “Climb Every Mountain,” at which point hordes of kids from The J* Company trooped down the Balboa Theatre aisles to contribute live support to the emotional climax. “The Sound of Music” plays Nov. 15–20.
So, what else is new and old?
Newer shows I’m most looking forward for the upcoming 2016–17 season are “Cabaret” (Aug. 23–28), which kicks off the new season; Time Magazine’s show of the year, “Matilda the Musical” (Jan. 31–Feb. 5, 2017); “Finding Neverland” (April 4–9, 2017), and “The Bodyguard” (June 13–18, 2017).
“The Bodyguard,” which has been touring Great Britain, debuted in London’s West End, where it played for two years and then went on tour in Great Britain. It is a remake of the film that starred Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner and features such Houston songs as “I Will Always Love You” and “Saving All My Love (For You).”
I also look forward to seeing the Broadway tour of John Cameron Mitchell’s über-rock musical, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” (Nov. 29–Dec. 4), which fails in its description to tell exactly what that inch might be, only stating that the musical may be inappropriate for those 12 and under due to strong language and adult themes.
In addition to shows mentioned above, Broadway San Diego has added engagements of two San Diego-connected Broadway hits, “Rent” (Jan. 10–15, 2017) and “Jersey Boys” (May 9–14, 2017).
Other shows remaining in the current 2015–2016 season are “The Realish Housewives of San Diego” (Feb. 2–7, at the Balboa Theatre); “The Book of Mormon” (Feb. 23–March 6); “The Wizard of Oz” (March 15–20); “Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles” (March 29–April 3, Balboa Theatre); Disney’s “Newsies” (May 31–June 5) and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” (Aug. 2–7).
That’s a lot to digest and a lot to anticipate. Readers may find additional information regarding shows and dates at broadwaysd.com
— Charlene Baldridge has been writing about the arts since 1979. You can follow her blog at charlenebaldridge.com or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.