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Theater Notebook: Two new streaming plays kick off month-long runs at local theaters

Actors Emily Goss and James Sutorius in North Coast Rep’s film “Trying."
Actors Emily Goss and James Sutorius in North Coast Rep’s film “Trying,” which will stream on demand on Showtix4U.com from March 24 through April 18.
(Aaron Rumley)

This week’s local theater report with news from North Coast Rep, San Diego Rep, San Diego State, Coronado Playhouse and more

“Trying,” a memoir about the final years of famous American jurist Francis Biddle, and “Higher and Higher,” a one-man rock ‘n’ soul revue, both premiere this week in filmed theatrical productions that will play through April 18.

San Diego Repertory Theatre is a presenting partner on a new production of “Higher and Higher: A Rock ‘n’ Soul Shindig,” starring Chester Gregory,” which launched on Monday. Gregory, the Broadway star of “Motown: The Musical,” “Hairspray” and “Dreamgirls,” presents a concert of the music of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, James Brown and more. Tickets are $35. Order at sdrep.org.

North Coast Repertory Theatre opens for streaming Wednesday Joanna McClelland Glass’ play, based on her real-life work as an assistant to the chief judge at the Nuremberg Trials. The play stars Emily Goss as Glass and James Sutorius as Biddle. Tickets are $29. Visit northcoastrep.org.

A scene from "Higher and Higher: A Rock 'n' Soul Shindig with Chester Gregory"
A scene from “Higher and Higher: A Rock ‘n’ Soul Shindig with Chester Gregory,” streaming March 22-April 18 via San Diego Repertory Theatrre.
(Courtesy photo)

Coming soon

Several new streaming local theater productions have been announced this spring:

“The Mountaintop”: Katori Hall’s play, about Martin Luther King Jr. meeting with a surprise visitor at his Memphis hotel the night before he died, will be presented in a co-production by American History Theater, The Roustabouts Theatre Co. and Teenage Youth Performing Arts Theatre Co. (TYPA). It will play at set times on April 24, 25, May 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16. Tickets will range from $25 to $100. Details at themountaintopsd.com.

“Pippin”: The Stephen Schwartz musical, about a young prince’s struggle to find meaning in his life before ascending to the throne, will be presented by San Diego State University’s School of Theatre, Television and Dance. It will play at 7 p.m. May 4, 5 and 6 and 2 p.m. May 8. Tickets are $10 to $15. Visit ttf.sdsu.edu/events/pippin.

“Constellations”: Nick Payne’s time-hopping play about a romantic relationship with endless possibilities will be presented by Coronado Playhouse in an streaming on demand production May 12 through 30. Tickets are $25. Visit coronadoplayhouse.org/constellations/.

San Diego theater artist William BJ Robinson hosts the Tough Talk forum
San Diego theater artist William BJ Robinson hosts the Tough Talk forum on several social media platforms.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

‘Tough Talk’ April dates announced

William “BJ” Robinson, a BIPOC San Diego theater artist, has announced six new dates in April for his “Tough Talk” series, an ongoing program of conversations that have focused since last June on accountability and change in the San Diego theater community.

“The Tough Talk platform was originally created to amplify Black voices as leaders of the conversations,” Robinson said in an email. “Our focuses grow and shift from week to week, and the lead mic is passed accordingly. A ‘Tough Talk’ isn’t meant to be easy because growth is hardly ever easy. And that’s OK. All faces, backgrounds and beliefs are always welcome to join the discussions.”

Upcoming dates are at noon April 4; 4 p.m. April 10; 5 p.m. April 14; noon April 18; 4 p.m. April 24; and 5 p.m. April 28. The show can be viewed at facebook.com/Tough.Talk2020, instagram.com/tough.talk2020/ and on the William “BJ” Robinson channel on YouTube.com.

In honor of World Theatre Day on March 27, a survey was conducted of the top 10 most popular streaming musical theater soundtracks on Spotify during the past pandemic year.

It’s probably no surprise that “Hamilton” came out on top in the money.co.uk survey, with more than 3.9 billion streams during the pandemic. Nor is it shocking that four Disney musical soundtracks were popular with quarantining families, including “Disney’s Lion King” at No. 2, “Aladdin” at No. 4, “Beauty and the Beast” at No. 6 and “Mary Poppins” at No. 9.

But “Jersey Boys,” the Four Seasons-inspired musical born at La Jolla Playhouse in 2004, ranked No. 8 overall with 349 million streams, and its song “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)” ranked No. 2 among the most streamed soundtrack songs, with 229 million streams. The No. 1 streaming song was “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin.”

Also ranked among the top 10 musical soundtrack streams were “Mamma Mia!” at No. 3, “Les Miserables” at No. 5 and “Book of Mormon” at No. 10.

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


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