San Diego Theatres – Sending Plays to Broadway, but is it Helping the City?

Although the second largest city in California, San Diego is often passed over by tourists in favor of its more glamorous neighbors, San Francisco and LA. The average visitor would be satisfied sojourning at a downtown hotel and visiting the top 10 attractions, such as the 1200-acre Balboa Park or the 4000-animal Zoo. More upscale guests, however, house at corporate housing in San Diego for longer periods, dine at Cucina Urbana and The Kebab Shop, and watch some of the best plays in America staged at San Diego’s premium theatres and playhouses.

San Diego, the Broadway of the West Coast?

Just like its obscure status as a tourist destination, San Diego’s outstanding achievements in producing highly popular plays have also been hugely understated. Not many people might know that San Diego has sent more plays to Broadway than any other city in America. The City boasts a mindboggling 150 stages including two that have won the coveted “Tony Award”. With such numbers, with the kind of history that San Diego has for creating great plays, and for the sheer variety of performances that it produces, San Diego should have long become the Broadway of the West Coast.

The history of San Diego as the epicenter of theater on the West Coast goes back by almost a century. It was in 1935 that curtains were lifted from the legendary Old Globe Theater, the venue that won the second-ever Tony Award in California in 1984 for Kiss Me Kate, directed by the famous San Diego director O’Brien. This was followed by 1992 remake of Damn Yankees, a play that spiraled to success and headed straight for New York. The spate of success continued with the 1998 classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas and in 2000 The Full Monty: The Musical. O’Brien won his first Tony for best direction for his 2003 musical Hairspray, winning his second and third such awards in quick succession for his plays Henri IV and The Coast of Utopia. Finally, his 2007 win for the puppet musical Avenue Q placed O’Brien in so much national and international demand that he decided to quit Old Globe and San Diego, but not before turning the City into a theatrical paradise.

And yet, the Globe is just one of the theaters boasting noteworthy achievements. Take La Jolla Playhouse, for instance, the experimental theater that keeps pushing the envelope of theatrical performances with innovations such as “Without Walls Series” that turns viewers into characters in the play. The 2013 play Accomplice: San Diego, sent theatergoers on a 2-hour tour of Little Italy’s streets, hotels, restaurants, bars and galleries, with the aim to help a crooked Internet billionaire avert an FBI sting operation and escape to his private island. The trail is full of clues and strange characters who guide the players on by sharing clues, maps, etc. In 2012, the theater sent its play Hands on a Hardbody to Broadway after hosting it successfully for four long years. Contrary to what the name might suggest, the play is based on the East Texan real-life competition, in which the players place one hand on a truck and keep standing there for hours. The play puts an actual truck on stage throughout the show.

Apart from winning Tony Awards and sending plays to Broadway, San Diego has a sizzling local community of theatergoers and critics. Just last week, San Diego Theatre Critics Circle gave out the Craig Noel Awards, which have been named after the Old Globe’s founder Craig Noel, who was awarded the National Medal of Arts, Americas highest honor for artistic excellence. This year, the playful dark comedy A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder leads San Diego’s play scene with 5 Craig Noel Awards, and is already trending big at Broadway.

1. “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”, the 2013 Noel Award winning San Diego play features an eccentrict British man who would kill for love.

The City is home to the prestigious San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA), a magnet school where students from grades 6–12 take specialized classes in theater, dance, music, and stagecraft. Run by a notable faculty of award-winning, highly reputed, and qualified professionals and performers, the SCPA has produced talents such as the 2005 Tony-winning Grey’s Anatomy star Sara Ramirez; Christian Hoff, who won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical; TV personality Amanda Lewis; Nickelodeon actor James Maslow; and many others. Historically, the San Diego stage has produced national stars such as Faye Emerson, Marion Ross, Dennis Hopper, Kelsey Grammer, Robert Hays and Victor Buono.

Theatre Locations and Long stay Accommodations

With a strong and vibrant community of theatergoers and stage critics, and a history of sending plays on national tour via Broadway, San Diego is a prolific place for plays. Most of the high-end theatres including Tenth Avenue, Cygnet Theatre, and Culture Clash are located downtown, and feature versatile and diverse stage-plays including musicals and comedy, modern and classical, experimental and romantic, and more.  However, you might not fully enjoy watching a play if you are in San Diego on a short trip. The Zoo is a better option for a one-week family vacation or a weekend hop. You’ll enjoy the plays the most,  if you are staying in the serene and elegant Chula Vista area in one of those classy long stay accommodations. Driving along the coastline, you’ll find plenty of mysterious theatres and playhouses to remind you of Paris, if you’ve ever been there.

Despite the City’s excellent track record for producing great performances and talents, plays are not the reason most people come to San Diego for. By contrast, Broadway sold a jaw-dropping $1.193 billion worth of tickets in the year 2013. This is despite the fact that San Diego boasts more luxurious vacation accommodations, a better climate, and is more peaceful as an art venue. There’s no organized information available online from the government to guide the tourists to the theaters and plays; not even a decent list of playhouses exists with maps and directions, other than these helpful links. It appears that apart from the theatres, artists, performers, fans, and critics, no one has really tried to channelize this phenomenal talent that San Diego possesses into a competitive advantage for the City. Showcasing San Diego’s rich theatrical history might not sell $1 billion worth of tickets, but might just provide the much needed tax revenues to the government and relief to the people.

San Diego Live Music Venues – Discover the Soul of Music

“If music be the food of love, play on…” goes Orsino in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. He certainly didn’t mean studio music, which is one of those “blessings” of technology just like bottled water, bioengineered food, and pesticide-rich vegetables. And if that sounds like too extreme a comparison, you just need to go to a live music venue in San Diego to discover the music that has a soul.

Here’s a quick roundup of the top 10 live music bars and concert venues in San Diego, along with their ambience and the type of music that they feature. These are mystical places where you can feel the pulse of the music through the audience participation and applause, and be one with the conviviality that is non-existent in recorded music.

Ken Club

If you are enjoying your holiday at a nice apartment in the upscale Kensington locality of San Diego, a live music bar might be the last thing you expect to see on these prime streets. But you’ll be pleasantly surprised by Ken Club, an up-market dive bar with a splendid jukebox collection. They also have a concert space next door and present live shows for a trendy audience.

Patrick’s II

Patrick’s II can be called the “Old Globe” of live music bars in San Diego. It is the oldest club downtown, and was the only nightlife attraction in the area until the Gaslamp surpassed it as a night haunt. Today, it’s one of the premier clubs in San Diego and a magnet for talent from across America. The music is outstanding and the dress code is relaxed, so you can chill there in a pair of shorts if you like.

Winston’s Beach Club

A trip to San Diego is far from complete if you haven’t spent enough time on Ocean Beach. And what better place can be there to relish the sun and the surf while being reverberated by the vibes of Jam Band and Reggae music? Winston’s Beach Club is the perfect place to head for after grabbing a sandwich at Hodad’s. Check out the schedule for Jose Sinatra’s routine performance and try not to miss it.

The Casbah

The Casbah has a big reputation compared to its modest size. Known as the center of gravity for soon-to-be-famous indie artists, the bar features daily live music apart from hosting high-profile national events. Although a bit on the hipster side, it’s a nice place to pay a low entry, hang out for some drinks, and listen to budding artists play live. The Casbah’s location puts it within easy access of hotels and short term apartment rentals in San Diego, so expect to see it crowded most of the times.

Lestat’s

If you want to enjoy live music without clouding up your mind, better hit this coffee-bar that’s open around the clock, 7 days a week. They have original live entertainment every night and hilarious comedy nights featuring singers, songwriters, comedians, and local bands. Lestat’s is a happening place and has a separate wing, Lestat’s West, dedicated to live music and theatrical performances. They have two branches, one on Adam’s Avenue and the other on Park Boulevard, both of which are the favorite haunts of nocturnal creatures.

Belly Up

Of course, how can we forget the bar that’s been voted “San Diego’s Best Live Music Venue” several times? Located in the immaculate Solana Beach area, this trendy joint brings in local as well as celebrity artists from multiple genres including alternative rock, reggae, hip-hop, blues, folk, jazz, and more. Artists and bands including Foreigner, B-52s, UB40, Maroon 5, Black Eyed Peas,  Tom Jones, Cheap Trick, Ben Harper, Curtis Mayfield, BB King, and many more have graced the Belly Up stage. A neighborhood bistro named Wild Note Café serves delectable food to keep you from going belly up with hunger.

The Shout House

Another great music venue situated in downtown San Diego, Shout House is a classical stage that provides rejuvenating rhythm and comedy through its famous “Dueling Pianos” performers. Two master artists sit face to face playing two grand pianos and perform classic rock ‘n’ roll hits from the 1950s to the present. The energy is so electrifying that you wouldn’t be able to resist joining the dancing crowds. The Shout House can be reached easily from most long or short term rental apartments in San Diego.

Humphreys Concerts on the Bay

The concert season at the warm and intimate Humphreys Concerts on the Bay is about to kick off, so you can start getting ready to watch breathtaking performances from your favorite bands, or crack up viewing spates of comedy from the likes of Bill Cosby. The 31-year old concert venue stands at one of the most picturesque locations in San Diego, the Shelter Island. Surrounded by the spellbinding ocean reflecting the twinkling city lights, and standing gracefully in the middle of luxury rental apartments, Humphreys Concerts on the Bay is a pilgrimage place for all live music lovers.

House of Blues

The House of Blues celebrates an authentic African-American culture like few other places in California. It boasts a decorative musical hall and a stage that has been home to Lenny Kravitz and Lady Gaga, among many other artists. The new culinary sensation “Crossroads” adds some luscious seafood to the intoxicating mix of music and drink.

Copley Symphony Hall

Finally, it’s the home of the San Diego Symphony that would consummate your live music experience in San Diego. The show is spectacular and the venue is exquisite. However, it’s a place strictly for symphony buffs; but then, what kind of a live music lover doesn’t cherish symphonies. The heart-melting notes will still be echoing in your mind when you are back at your short term apartment rental in San Diego.

Real music is live, and if you are not into live music, a visit to some of the above-mentioned music venues might get you hooked. Or maybe you’ve already been to some of these or innumerable other concert halls and bars in San Diego. We would love to read your comments about your experiences in San Diego live music venues and what you feel about live music.

Romancing in San Diego-Top Weekend Getaways for All Budgets

It’s February, and love is in the air. Well, hasn’t it been around the whole year? But it’s the best time to celebrate it, strengthen it, and feel its warmth. Loving couples from across San Diego converge upon the surrounding romantic destinations on weekends, rediscovering each other in the idyllic environment that these enchanting weekend activities and destinations provide. Some of these romantic getaways are affordable for all, but the others demand deeper pockets.

Does love blossom better in an extravagant resort or a cheap B&B? I guess it really doesn’t matter how much you spend. So go ahead and get out of the spoiling comfort of your Short term furnished apartment in San Diego, and head for the destination or activity  that appeals to your heart.

Valentine’s Day Dinner Cruise

Spend 3 hours under the full moon on the luxurious private yacht that sails on the serene waters of the beautiful San Diego Harbor every night. Melt into each other’s embrace while dancing to romantic music. Enjoy a sumptuous four-course gourmet dinner prepared freshly on board and feel really special. Free flowing champagne, a professional DJ playing your favorite tracks, and breathtaking views of the splendid San Diego bay would make this night an everlasting one in your memories. Book your cruise in advance to avoid last-minute embarrassments. Prices start from $105 per person, plus tax.

Hot Air Ballooning

Not that much of a nocturnal sea person? If the day is clear, hot air ballooning is a fun thing to do together. You may leave the cozy environs of your short term furnished apartment in San Diego and venture out to the affluent locality of Carlsbad, located about 35 miles to the north of downtown San Diego. Hop on to a basket attached to a giant hot air balloon, soar into the sapphire skies, and marvel at the mesmerizing views of the romantic coastline. Snuggle together, sip champagne, snap photos, and have a lot of fun. A great way to take your relationship to a high point.

The Blue Lantern

Blue Lantern Inn is one of the most romantic getaways at Dana Point, a 1-hour drive to the north from downtown San Diego. Cruise along the splendid California coastline, ingesting the spectacular views of the ocean and the sun-kissed beaches along the way, and reach this affordable inn that was listed as one of the Top US Seaside Inn by Travel and Leisure Magazine. The guestrooms are relaxing and romantic, and all of them sport sweeping views of the blue Pacific and the emerald coastline. The rates start at a modest $178, which includes a sumptuous breakfast for two. Enjoy a rejuvenating spa treatment or rent a couple of bikes and paddle away to the picturesque coast.

Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes

If you can afford to spend almost double the amount that you pay at the Blue Lantern, and travel for double the time, Terranea is the perfect Valentine’s Day destination to escape to. Stupendous and solitary, the romance and glamour are almost palpable at this extravagant weekend retreat. The resort is sprawled out onto a swath of lush green land extending into the sea. Perched above the foaming shoreline, it is an exclusive and private property carved straight from haven for loving couples. Nurture your love in an upscale setting that includes fine dining, golf, spa, surfing, and many other entertaining activities. Driving back to your vacation rental apartment in San Diego, the two of you will be glad you visited Terranea.

The Montage in Laguna Beach

Rated a near-perfect 4.8 in more than 265 Google reviews, The Montage is another stupendously luxurious romantic destination in the surroundings of San Diego. Escape the monotony of your short term furnished apartment in San Diego and drive north along the shore for about 1:15 to reach the opulent Laguna Beach resort city. Although you can find some cheaper B&Bs here for an overnight stay, the Montage is what the idyllic town is famous for. Elegant rooms, ridiculously extravagant bathrooms, sumptuous food and drinks, 3 glimmering swimming pools, a revitalizing spa, golf, health center, and unlimited exquisite views of the Laguna Beach are yours for the taking. The average American couple might find it impossible to stay here overnight, though, with the prices starting at $600 or so. But it’s certainly one of the most romantic places to stay for those who have “arrived”. The rest of us might read on.

Borrego Springs

Tired of the beaches and the crowds? If you can drive for about 2 hours toward northeast of San Diego, you can reach the sleepy and splendid Borrego Springs. The temperatures are still pleasant in February, which makes this desert resort perfect as a Valentine’s Day weekend retreat. The unspoiled broken landscape provides a haunting backdrop for highlighting your passionate love for each other. There are several luxurious overnight accommodations available here, such as the memorable La Casa del Zorro. Starting from around $200 and up per night, the two of you can enjoy a sumptuous sojourn amidst luxuries such as pampering spa and beauty treatments, delectable cuisines, premium swimming pools, and a plethora of fine services and fun activities.

Coronado Island

Of course, how could we miss the 10 minutes drive (or more appropriately, flight) on the 200 feet high San Diego Bridge that takes you to the white-sand beaches of the Coronado Island? There are several overnight options available here, ranging from budget B&Bs to the legendary Hotel Del. Regardless of the budget that you can afford for the trip, Coronado has much to offer in the form of great scenery, peaceful environment, and engaging activities. You can reach here within 15 minutes from your short term furnished apartment in San Diego, which makes it a very convenient getaway if you are limited on time.

So, now you know how much time and money it would take to escape the confines of the city and head for the wilderness with the love of your life. Have you been to any of these places before? Think you can help us add to this list? Please tell us in your comments.