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‘D’ for diversity in Rep’s new season

Staging its 34th theatrical season, the San Diego Repertory Theatre has announced its program for 2009-10. The company continues to achieve its purpose of promoting a more inclusive community by offering a wide range of diverse plays and musicals.

The new season begins Oct. 3 at the Lyceum Theater at Horton Plaza with the musical “Long Story Short.”

During its productions, which have included 40 world premieres, the Rep has garnered more than 100 awards, including the 2005 San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Craig Noel Award for “30 Years of Artistic Dedication to Downtown and Diversity.”

A lot goes into selecting a season of plays. But Artistic Director Sam Woodhouse, co-founder of the REP in 1976 along with D.W. Jacobs, always has his eye on potential projects. Since Woodhouse has also served as director, producer and actor on some 150 REP productions, he knows what will entertain.

“We look for plays that drive our core mission to nourish progressive political and social values and celebrate the multiple voices of our region,” Woodhouse said. “We endeavor to feed the curious soul, and along with picking the right plays comes the responsibility of the right cast. Fortunately, we have a good knowledge of talents. This season, there’s only one actor we’ve never seen perform.”

“Long Story Short,” a musical that runs Oct. 3-Nov. 1, tells the story of a 50-year romance between an Asian girl and a Jewish guy. The play was written by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda from the pop band Groovelily. Woodhouse finds the catharsis of a cross-cultural romance a provocative idea. “Adding music to a production can be a delightful seduction that you remember long after you walk out,” he said.

“The Seafarer,” a comic-drama, runs Nov. 14-Dec.13. When four old friends gather in a Dublin bungalow on Christmas Eve, they plan to celebrate in their own style: with a bottle of whiskey and a deck of cards. Something goes wrong when a sinister stranger is allowed to join them. Woodhouse (“King Lear” and “Proof”) plays the stranger, who clearly has his own agenda. About playing this character, Woodhouse said, “This play is a superior piece of writing, and I look forward to playing the ultimate bad guy, a devil archival type in a story that combines the natural and the supernatural.”

The new comedy “Boom” runs Jan. 9-31. Audiences will follow a young marine biologist who thinks it’s time to prepare for the end of the world. Laughs unfold as the biologist believes time is of the essence and devises a plan to repopulate the human race with a journalist. Playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb keeps playgoers guessing in this farce about sex and social satire.

“This is very much a play of our times,” Woodhouse said. “Many producers say this is a play to keep your eye on. It’s a smart epic built around a Craigslist evolution.”

America’s premier Latino comedy troupe returns to the Rep for “Culture Clash In AmerCCa,” running Feb. 18-March 7. Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Hebert Siguenza, the Culture Clash team, has mesmerized America with wit and comedy for more than 25 years.

Tackling the subject of change, the play spawns from interviews with real people, such as Cuban exiles, Haitian immigrants and a Puerto Rican political activist. Culture Clash is exceptional at developing unique and unforgettable characters - some who San Diegans might recognize. “I’ve seen this play, and I just love it,” Woodhouse said.

“A Weekend With Pablo Picasso,” a workshop production by Hebert Siguenza, runs March 21-April 11. Through performing and painting onstage, Siguenza will re-create the Picasso works he came to admire as a boy. The one-man show, directed by the REP’s Associate Artistic Director Todd Salovey, promises to be an intimate and revealing performance. Using the forms of clowning, painting, ballet and impersonation, Siguenza will endeavor to capture the essence of Picasso’s mercurial soul and contradictory creations.

“Herbert has developed a new piece that shows off his rare ability to create a provocative piece with intrigue,” Woodhouse said. “The audience at this show will be uninvited guests in a private studio.”

The 17th Annual Lipinksy Family San Diego Jewish Arts Festival runs June 1-22. “The popular concert celebrates Jewish creativity in musical, theatre and dance. Associate Artistic Director Todd Salovey does a great job promoting the idea that the Jewish culture is rich in diversity,” Woodhouse said.

The season’s final production is “The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” (abridged) running June 11-20. This blog-type trip through the Bard’s plays has become London’s longest-running comedy. Shakespeare fans or not, all are sure to be highly entertained.

SD Repertory Theatre

2009-10 season

When: Opens 8 p.m. Oct. 3 with ‘Long Story Short’

Where: Lyceum Theater, Horton Plaza

Tickets: $18-$53; (619) 544-1000 or www.sdrep.org