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La Jolla Playhouse unveils first four shows of 2022-23 season

La Jolla Playhouse will present En Garde Arts' production of "Fandango for Butterflies (and Coyotes)."
La Jolla Playhouse will present En Garde Arts’ production of “Fandango for Butterflies (and Coyotes)” as part of its 2022-23 season.
(Maria Baranova)

New musicals, two world-premiere plays and stories that will take audiences around the world and back in time are part of La Jolla Playhouse’s 2022-23 season.

Following the 2021-22 season-closing productions of “to the yellow house” (opening this week) and the musical “Bhangin’ It” in March, the 2022-23 season will kick off in April with a four-day Without Walls Festival at Liberty Station in Point Loma. It will continue with six subscription shows, four of which were announced Nov. 11. Two more — a reimagined classic co-directed by La Jolla Playhouse artistic director Christopher Ashley and Will Davis, and a new musical — will be announced soon.

Ashley said the four shows announced last week are about people adapting to tumultuous change at extraordinary points in history, including wars, the Holocaust, the breakup of the Soviet Union and an immigration crisis.

“These new works ... speak to the resilience of the human spirit throughout history and how that spirit can triumph amid adversity,” he said.

Tickets for the newly announced productions are available now to current subscribers and starting Dec. 1 to new subscribers by calling (858) 550-1010 or visiting lajollaplayhouse.org.

Here’s the lineup so far:

Without Walls Festival: The 2022 event will feature four days of immersive, site-specific theater, dance and music by local, national and international artists April 21-24 at the Arts District at Liberty Station. Ashley said WOW will become an annual event for the playhouse, and because it is designed to be mobile, the 2023 fest likely will move to a new location.

"Lempicka: A New Musical" book writer/lyricist Carson Kreitzer and composer Matt Gould
Carson Kreitzer is the book writer/lyricist and Matt Gould is the composer for the La Jolla Playhouse production of “Lempicka: A New Musical.”
(La Jolla Playhouse)

“Lempicka: A New Musical,” June-July: Postponed from the 2020 season, this acclaimed 2018 musical was inspired by the story of Polish painter Tamara de Lempicka, who fled the Russian Revolution in 1917 and flourished in bohemian Paris with her sensuous paintings. Then, when the Germans entered Paris in 1940, she fled again to Los Angeles. “She was a very charismatic woman who was caught between these many worlds and violent change,” Ashley said.

“Lempicka” features a book and lyrics by Carson Kreitzer and a score by Matt Gould. It will be directed by Rachel Chavkin, who won a Tony Award in 2019 for directing Broadway’s “Hadestown.” Raja Feather Kelly will choreograph the show.

Playwright and director Moisés Kaufman
Moisés Kaufman will direct his and Amanda Gronich’s world-premiere play “Here There Are Blueberries” at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2022.
(La Jolla Playhouse)

“Here There are Blueberries,” July-August: Produced in association with Tectonic Theater Project, this world-premiere play by Moisés Kaufman and Amanda Gronich was conceived by and will be directed by Kaufman. It’s based on the true story of a World War II-era photo album that arrived on the desk of archivist Rebecca Erbelding at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2007.

The photos depicted Nazi guards and staff from the Auschwitz death camp in Poland frolicking, eating and sunbathing at a nearby vacation home during their days off from camp duties in 1944-45. The play also involves a businessman in Germany who is horrified to recognize his grandfather in the photos. Ashley said the actual photos will be featured in the show’s projection design.

“The play explores how everyday people’s lives and profound harm can coexist,” Ashley said. “The photos are windows into this really rich, vivid, complicated, difficult subject in a way that Moisés is uniquely suited to bring a theatrical clarity to.”

“Fandango for Butterflies (and Coyotes),” August-September: The En Garde Arts production of this 2019 play by Andrea Thome with original music by Sinuhé Padilla is based on interviews with immigrants from Latin America living in New York City.

In the play, a group of the immigrants gathers at a community center for a fandango, a festive celebration where stories are brought to life through live performance, music and dance. As fears of a citywide immigration raid grow, the party-goers share their stories of hope, resilience and family.

The play will be directed by José Zayas, whom Ashley has known and worked with over the past 20 years. “It’s a very joyous play,” Ashley said.

Playwright Lauren Yee's "Mother Russia" will make its world premiere in fall 2022 at the La Jolla Playhouse.
(La Jolla Playhouse)

“Mother Russia,” September-October: First announced for the 2020 season, Lauren Yee’s world-premiere comedy will arrive next fall. Yee is a UC San Diego master of fine arts graduate and the author of “Cambodian Rock Band,” which was presented in 2019 at the La Jolla Playhouse.

“Mother Russia,” set during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990s St. Petersburg, is about two barely competent surveillance workers assigned to track the movements of a fallen pop star. Ashley describes the play as a “post-Berlin Wall comedy” in which the government has fallen and everyone is trying to figure out how to navigate the new world order. It will be directed by Tyne Rafaeli. ◆