Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Plan a Weekend With Out-of-Town Theater

Here are some great options for taking a theater tour of Southern California this winter.


Los Angeles has many theater options, but sometimes it’s fun to get out of town. Make theater part of a weekend stay! Here’s what’s going on along the coast from San Diego to Santa Barbara.


San Diego


The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. Photo by Bernard Gagnon via Wikimedia Commons


The Old Globe Theatre, in beautiful Balboa Park, was built in 1935 to present Shakespeare works as part of the California Pacific International Exposition. Modeled after Shakespeare’s Old Globe in London, the spacious building and grounds are a Southern California treasure.

At the Old Globe through Feb. 26 is The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, a “genre-busting” trip through Da Vinci’s mind via his notebooks.



Next up are two sports-themed world premiere plays: Under a Baseball Sky (Feb. 11-March 12), commissioned by the theater, and The XIXth (March 17-April 23), set at the 1968 Olympics. If you want to experience Shakespeare in a setting approximating his original home, Twelfth Night runs from June 4 to July 9.



Balboa Park itself is 1200 acres of gardens, museums and community events, including the Comic-Con Museum, Centro Cultural de la Raza, Fleet Science Center and a carousel. Check out what’s going on here.


La Jolla


La Jolla Playhouse, one of the most celebrated regional theaters in the country, has a powerful lineup of world premiere musicals and plays. A new musical based on S.E. Hinton’s seminal young adult novel The Outsiders, opening on Feb. 19, closes out the 2022-23 season.


The cast of the world premiere musical The Outsiders, coming to La Jolla Playhouse.


The next season opens in June with Love All, a play about Billie Jean King by Anna Deavere Smith. It’s followed by Is It Thursday Yet, a look at life on the spectrum by dancer/choreographer Jenn Freeman, featuring dance, live music, home video footage and audio narrations. These are followed by a musical based on the life of Hunter S. Thompson, Sumo, Sinclair Lewis’ Babbit starring Matthew Broderick and Redwood starring Idina Menzel. Get a subscription!


Laguna Beach


Annie Abrams, Mike McShane, Rita Rudner, Brian Jones and Brian Lohmann in Staged. Photo by Jason Niedle.


Laguna Playhouse just opened Staged, one in a series of plays at the venue by the husband wife team of Martin Bergman and Rita Rudner. The couple co-write, Rudner stars and Bergman directs. Their previous collaboration, Two’s a Crowd, went from Laguna to a successful run off-Broadway in 2018.  Here’s a quick review:

Staged has an old-school concept: two former stars (Rudner as Fanella Fennington and Mike McShane as Jarvis Haverly) break up very publicly in the middle of a stage production of Antony and Cleopatra, then reunite 20 years later for a new production.

The Liz and Dick parallels are obvious. He calls her a “girdled witch” whose success was predicated solely on her looks, now fading. She calls him an “Elizabethan jukebox,” spouting out Shakespeare quotes.

Despite their prickly past, they agree to star in a new play, produced by Ezra, the son of Cleopatra’s 20-year-ago producer. Apparently, Ezra’s dad committed suicide when the couple split and shut down his moneymaker.


Rita Rudner and Mike McShane in Staged. Photo by Jason Niedle.


A combination of guilt, ego and financial need get Fanella and Jarvis on board and keep the production going, despite very obvious problems of the creative and mental health kind. The couple veers between vituperative venom and loving reconciliation that feels random.

Stage manager Gerry (Kelly Holden Bashar, who also plays two other roles) provides comic relief through her lines and a series of “get it yourself”-type T shirts. Both reveal her disdain for the show people and indeed it’s easy to see why she’s frustrated. Cliches abound, from cowboy/director Red (Brian Lohman, who also plays three other roles) to a campy Broadway radio show (now a podcast) with the inside scoop—mostly wildly inaccurate—on the new production’s progress.

The plot requires suspending disbelief. Isn’t there a better way of picking directors than Ezra employs? More importantly, don’t these people know how to Google? Fanella and Jarvis seem completely unaware of anything that’s happened in each other’s life since their split. Not only do we all know that exes stalk each other’s social media and stay updated through mutual friends, these people are stars, whose lives are breathlessly recounted on the aforementioned podcast, and presumably elsewhere.

As often happens at live shows, the audience provides context, encouragement and the occasional unexpected laugh. At a line where the couple discuss their respective pharmaceuticals, a mention of Skyrizi draws a loud hiss from somewhere in the Orchestra section.

There are creepy age difference issues, extensive cheating and some jarring personal choices. Jarvis married (and divorced) a much-younger Katja (Annie Abrams) and comes on to every female on the stage. Fanella’s younger boyfriend, a chef who presses every part of the animal to make “goat wine,” is rarely seen yet apparently the winner of the group.

Staged runs through Feb. 12. It’s followed by Once (March 8-26), about an Irish guitarist who meets a Czech pianist, and The Realistic Joneses (April 26-May 14).


Costa Mesa



South Coast Repertory performs in the Emmes/Benson Theatre Center at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. It offers a robust lineup of plays and musicals. Currently running is Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes (Feb. 4-26). Upcoming is the world premier Coleman ‘72, about a Korean-American family’s ‘70s road trip from Milwaukee to LA.


Long Beach


Long Beach is actually in Los Angeles County, but they have a couple of terrific legitimate theaters and the traffic on a weeknight can be pretty deadly. So why not play tourist in Long Beach, visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific, the newly reopening Queen Mary and the Battleship Iowa.



International City Theatre presents Jonathan Larson’s Tick, tick… BOOM!  Feb. 17-March 5. There’s a post-show talkback with the cast! Sunday, Feb. 26. Next up is the West Coast premiere of Under the Skin, about a father, an estranged daughter, and a kidney. Into The Breeches, opening in June, takes place in a 1942 Long Beach where an all-female version of Shakespeare’s multi-play Henriad is in development.

Agatha Christie’s Towards Zero is playing through Feb. 11 at the Long Beach Playhouse. It’s followed by She Kills Monsters (Feb. 25-March 25) about a troubled young woman haunted by her dead sister’s Dungeons & Dragons notebook. The Diary of Anne Frank, newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman, follows in April.





The Rubicon Theatre is a beautiful and historic building with a long history of quality work. Running through Feb. 12 is The Realistic Joneses, a partnership with Gare St Lazare Ireland. Together, the companies have championed the work of Beckett, and Will Eno, the author of The Realistic Joneses, follows in those large, strange footsteps. The show is indeed off-kilter, with many laughs and a few moments that make you go, “huh.”

Two of the four performers, Sorcha Fox (Jennifer) and Conor Lovett (John), come from Ireland. Faline England (Pony) and Joe Spano (Bob) round out the cast of two couples who meet in a backyard and progress awkwardly through developments both mundane and cataclysmic, both confronting and denying their realities.


Joe Spano, Faline England, Conor Lovett and Sorcha Fox in The Realistic Joneses, now playing at Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre. Photo by Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland.


Santa Barbara



Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC), Santa Barbara’s only professional theater company, presents five or six plays per season, often including American and West Coast premieres. ETC  performs at the 300-seat New Vic, its home since 2013. Currently playing is Selling Kabul (through Feb. 19), about an Army interpreter hiding out from the Taliban. Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children runs April 6-30; the Buzz reviewed a production at the Fountain in 2021. In June, ETC mounts a culinary drama, Seared , by Theresa Rebeck.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen has lived in the Brookside neighborhood since 1993. She works as a freelance writer, editor and consultant. She's also a playwright affiliated with Theatre West.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Latest Articles

.printfriendly { padding: 0 0 60px 50px; }