Theater Notebook: Award-winning ‘Witnesses’ musical returning for concert-only performance in June

A scene from CCAE Theatricals' 2022 world premiere of "Witnesses."
(Courtesy of Ken Jacques)

Also this week, Cirque du Soleil returns, Lederer does Shakespeare and “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” extends again


“Witnesses,” the Escondido-born world premiere musical that took the top prize at the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle’s 2022 Craig Noel Awards in February, will return in June for one performance in La Jolla.

The musical’s Escondido producer, CCAE Theatricals, will co-present with JFest the reunion concert at 2 p.m. June 4 at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center.

CCAE Theatricals co-founders J. Scott Lapp, left, and Jordan Beck.
CCAE Theatricals co-founders J. Scott Lapp, left, and Jordan Beck hold their award for “Witnesses” at the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle’s 2022 Craig Noel Awards on Feb. 27, 2023, in San Diego.
(Courtesy of Ion Moe)

Conceived by CCAE’s managing producer Jordan Beck, “Witnesses” is the musical story of five real-life Jewish teens in Europe who died in the Holocaust during World War II. The teens’ diaries were used as the basis for the book by Robert L. Freedman and the score by composers and lyricists Beck, Carmel Dean, Mindi Dickstein, Matt Gould, Adam Gwon, Anna K. Jacobs and Gerald Sternbach.

Freedman won the 2014 Tony Award for his musical book for the Old Globe-born “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” “Witnesses” was directed by CCAE artistic director J. Scott Lapp.

The June 4 performance will feature the actors who appeared in the original production last summer at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido: Giovanny Diaz De Leon, Austyn Myers, Kai Justice Rosales, Afra Sophia Tully, Camille Umoff, Ian Dembek, Hannah Frederick, David Landis, Katherine Paladichuk and Priya Richard.

Tickets to the performance are $18 to $50. To order, visit

Three performers in Cirque du Soleil's "Corteo"
Cirque du Soleil’s “Corteo” tent show will return to San Diego in September. 2023.
(Courtesy of Maja Prgomet)

Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Corteo’ returns

Montreal’s Cirque du Soleil will return to San Diego in September with its traveling circus show “Corteo,” which first played here in 2008.

Corteo is the Italian word for “cortege,” and it tells the Fellini-esque story of an angelic clown trapped between heaven and earth, watching his own funeral cortege. The funeral takes place in a carnival atmosphere and features eight performers in 16 different circus acts,including juggling, hand-balancing, high-wire, tumbling, trapeze, trampoline and more. Launched in Montreal in 2005, “Corteo” has toured 20 countries on four continents.

Performances will be presented Sept. 6 through 10 at Pechanga Arena. Tickets are now on sale at

The cast of Lamb's Players Theatre's "R-E-S-P-E-C-T."
(Courtesy of J.T. MacMillan)

Lamb’s extends ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T’ again

Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado has extended, for the third time, its world premiere production of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” the revue of music by American women singers and songwriters of the 1960s. It will now play through June 4.

The show by Kerry Meads and Vanda Eggington was originally scheduled to close on March 13. Last year, Lamb’s had another big musical hit on its hands, “Million Dollar Quartet,” which ended up running for nearly six months, thanks to a series of extensions. Visit

Lederer celebrates Shakespeare

Wordsmith Richard Lederer, the author of more than 50 books and longtime San Diego Union-Tribune language columnist, will present his tribute to the works of William Shakespeare later this month in Oceanside. Lederer will demonstrate the enduring nature of the Bard’s words through the playwright’s plays and sonnets.

Oceanside Theatre Company presents “Living Will: Lederer on Shakespeare” at 7 p.m. April 21 at the Brooks Theatre, 217 N. Coast Highway, Oceanside. Tickets are $25. Call (760) 433-8900,

Kragen writes about theater for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at