Looking Back on 2010

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RUINED at La Jolla Playhouse

RUINED at La Jolla Playhouse

La Jolla Playhouse had much to be proud of in 2010!

During the 2010/11 season, the Playhouse produced three world premieres as part of the theatre’s ongoing commitment to the development of new work, including Surf Report by San Diego-area native Annie Weisman, Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin, and the exciting upcoming musical Little Miss Sunshine, by the Tony Award-winning team of James Lapine and William Finn (previews begin February 15). Audiences also flocked to see Christopher Ashley’s innovative take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Ruined, as well as Bill Camp’s riveting performance in Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground. Additionally, after two turns developing his newest work to sold-out audiences at the Playhouse as part of our Page To Stage Play Development program, acclaimed actor John Leguizamo is getting ready to begin performances of his show (re-named Ghetto Klown) on Broadway in February.

This exciting season was embraced by our audiences and the press, as the Playhouse took home the lion’s share of awards at the annual San Diego Critic Circle Awards ceremony on January 10. Ruined received seven awards, while Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin garnered awards for Outstanding New Musical and Lead Actor in a Musical (Rob McClure) and Notes from Underground won for Outstanding Touring Production and Outstanding Performance in a Touring Production (Bill Camp). The Playhouse also received the award for Outstanding Music for a Play, which went to composer Mark Bennett for his delightful score to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In Education news, the 2010 POP tour production Chile Pod sold out its entire run for the first time in its history, playing to 44 schools and reaching 16,000 students. Our ongoing summer programs, Young Performers Workshop and Conservatory, were as popular as ever, and we launched our new CARE (Collaborative Arts Resources for Education) program, featuring a unique visual and performing arts collaboration with the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Timken Museum and the Mingei International Museum.

As part of the Playhouse’s community outreach efforts, the theatre established a series of partnerships with local arts and cultural organizations for each production, such as Playwrights Project, Sushi Performing and Visual Arts, San Diego Youth Symphony, the Alliance for African Assistance. The Playhouse also hosted the San Diego Asian American Repertory Theatre as its 2010 Resident Theatre Company, and for the second year the Playhouse hosted Native Voices at the Autry’s new work festival which features workshops and readings of Native American playwrights.

Additionally, the Playhouse celebrated the receipt of a $900,000 grant from the James Irvine Foundation to help fund the Playhouse’s innovative Without Walls program, featuring an exciting performance series that places cutting edge, site-specific theatre directly into the San Diego community. The Playhouse will bring acclaimed theatre artists from around the world to share their ground-breaking work with San Diego, as well as commission original theatre pieces. Stay tuned for more news on this thrilling new site-specific initiative in the new year.

Last March we hosted the most successful Gala in our institution’s history, honoring the Playhouse’s esteemed lead donors Joan and Irwin Jacobs. “La Jolla Playhouse Honors” celebrated contributions to the American theatre landscape, recognizing artists and supporters who have enriched La Jolla Playhouse since its earliest days. In addition to the Jacobs, the Gala honored Playhouse artists Neil Patrick Harris, Jefferson Mays, Charlayne Woodard and Susan Hilferty. Click here to read more about this thrilling event.

And in June, the Playhouse-bred musical Memphis took home the 2010 Tony Award for Best Musical, as well as three other Tonys for Best Score, Book and Orchestrations. The show also garnered eight nominations, including a Best Director nod for Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley, prompting the L.A. Times to tout the Playhouse as a “nurturing ground for Tony winners.” The City of San Diego recognized also the Playhouse for its Tony wins with a special proclamation presented by City Councilmember Sherri Lightner, declaring Tuesday, September 28 to be “2010 Tony Award Day” in San Diego.

Hats off to La Jolla Playhouse’s accomplishments in 2010, and here’s to reaching even greater heights in 2011!