Theater Diary: Southern California native did miss sunshine; now he’s back in it
By Andrew Samonsky
Originally published in the San Diego Union-Tribune
Andrew Samonsky, who plays Joshua and other roles in the La Jolla Playhouse’s production of “Little Miss Sunshine,” will recount his experiences for six weeks in Arts.
Little Miss Sunshine. Is that the title of our show, or San Diego’s nickname? Maybe it was destiny for the world premiere of the new musical “Little Miss Sunshine” to unveil here. Whatever the reason, I give thanks. New York, in its moody way, seemed to push me away. “Oh, you’re leaving me? Fine. Here’s 3 feet of snow to make the breakup easier, does that help?! Get outta here!”
Ahh, New York. I still love you, don’t worry. The truth is, my pedigree is Southern Californian, through and through. I braved the perpetual 70-degree, partly cloudy weather for the first 27 years of my life. The initial 18 years were spent with my parents in beautiful Ventura, then a degree in music at Cal State Northridge, and finally an MFA in acting at UC Irvine.
Then New York City cast its magic spell on me, and I left SoCal’s sun and coastal breeze for Manhattan’s sweltering humidity and snow. I’d be lying if I said I hated it. I’ve actually grown to love the seasons, but when I was cast in La Jolla Playhouse’s production of “Little Miss Sunshine,” I became the envy of many.
“You’re going to San Diego from January to March? I hate you,” a dear friend said.
“Oh my god, you are going to LOVE The La Jolla Playhouse. It’s an amazing theater company. I hate you,” another good friend said.
So, having been pushed away by my friends and my city, I come to La Jolla with open arms, and it has been a very warm embrace, literally and figuratively.
San Diego in the winter was not the only draw of this job. Two years ago, my agent called to tell me I’d been requested to be part of a workshop (a way of developing new shows) of a new musical version of “Little Miss Sunshine.”
“What a great idea. I love that movie,” I thought.
He then told me James Lapine and William Finn were the two writing it. “Holy moly,” though slightly more graphic, was the only reaction I came up with. “Umm, yeah, I’m available,” I told my agent.
Since that workshop, I’ve been younger than springtime in “South Pacific” at Lincoln Center, but when the show recently closed, I thought, “How’s that lovely ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ musical coming along? Wouldn’t that be a dream to work on again.”
A couple auditions later, I got my favorite kind of phone call, and my agent told me I was headed to San Diego. My gratitude is overflowing.
To work on a project of this caliber is incredible. Did I mention that James Lapine and William Finn are writing this thing? Did I mention I love that movie? Did I mention I’m in San Diego for the winter? Ahh, New York. Don’t be jealous.
Andrew Samonsky played Lt. Joseph Cable in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of “South Pacific,” where he was also seen on the “Live From Lincoln Center” PBS broadcast. He created the role of Nick on the national tour of “On the Record.” Regional credits include Bob Wallace in “White Christmas” (The Denver Center), Jon in “tick, tick… BOOM!” (Rubicon/Coronet Theater) and “Shenandoah” (The Ford’s Theater).