What's most noteworthy about San Diego Musical Theatre's current production of West Side Story is where it's being produced: Downtown at the Spreckels Theatre. It's a new home for SDMT, which had been staging its musicals in the North Park Theatre, a venue that's OK for bands but frankly underwhelming for live theater. So, it was a little disappointing to find the acoustics at the Spreckels for West Side Story, one of Broadway's ground-breaking classics, so tinny, at least when I was there on Saturday night. Let's hope that's an anomaly. As for the production, it's top-shelf: smart, jazzy choreography by Randy Slovacek, exciting fight scenes between the Jets and the Sharks and, among the talented ensemble, Natalie Nucci as a sexy, sassy and indomitable Anita.
West Side Story runs through March 1.
Vandalism and natural wear and tear caused the city of Escondido to close Niki de Saint Phalle's iconic "Queen Califia's Magical Circle" for more than a year.
I've always had a sentimental attachment to the Lafayette Hotel in North Park. Maybe because of all those visits to the on-site Red Fox Room and the enjoyment of its killer cocktails. Or maybe because it's the closest thing San Diego has to evoking "Old Hollywood."
Honoring Daniel Jackson: Saxophonist Daniel Jackson was a giant of the San Diego jazz scene
Arsalun Tafazoli and Paul Basile make a great team. Tafazoli's the co-founder of CH Projects, the folks behind some of San Diego's best restaurants and bars—Polite Provisions, Craft & Commerce, Ironside Fish & Oyster among them. Basile, through his BASILE Studio, has made those places—and a number of other San Diego eateries—look cool. From , the two will sit down to talk about their collaborative work at Polite Provisions (4696 30th St., North Park), which won a 2014 Orchid Award for interior design. The chat's part of Designing Minds, an ongoing series of events that highlight the people who make San Diego a more attractive place. Your $30 ticket gets you in and hooked up with one of the bar's delicious craft cocktails. Can't make it to this one? Tafazoli and Basile will bring the talk to Ironside in Little Italy on .
Fresh Sound sounds off
Few live music series provide as outside-the-box a listening experience as the Fresh Sound concert series. Curated by Bonnie Wright, and now in its 19th year, Fresh Sound kicks off its 2015 season with a percussion concert by Red Fish Blue Fish. Directed by Steve Schick—founding percussionist of Bang on a Can and a professor at UCSD—the ensemble will be performing Michael Gordon’s "Timber," an hour-long complex and polyrhythmic piece that's played entirely on pieces of wood of different lengths and pitches. On paper it seems simple enough, but in person it promises to be a one-of-a-kind aural experience. The concert takes place at , at Bread & Salt in Logan Heights (1955 Julian Ave.). Admission is $15.
If you’ve ever made mental notes on what does and doesn't make a good IPA, you’re probably going to want to check out the 2015 San Diego Beer Fest. Yup: get those pretzel necklaces ready and head over to Liberty Station (2640 Historic Decatur Road, Point Loma) on . With more than 50 breweries offering tastes, live music and a fleet of food trucks, the fifth-annual fest kicks off 2015 beer-tasting events in style. Breweries include locals like Hess, Green Flash and Monkey Paw, as well as out-of-town suds Lagunitas, Speakeasy and NInkasi. The event goes from and costs $40. Or, grab a VIP ticket for $50 and get in at
Last fall, Malashock Dance kicked off a series of performances, called "The Engagement Ring," with the aim of transforming the audience's understanding of what a dance performance should be. The first installment, Sadie Weinberg's happiness: an experiment, was less a dance performance and more of an experience, involving an audience survey, dialogue, a group dance- and sing-along and the strangely beautiful act of pouring sand into metal bowls. The second installment, directed by Emily Miller and Elyssa Dru Rosenberg and called Tour de Dance: Time and Again, takes place , when attendees will take a guided tour through Liberty Station's Dance Place San Diego (2650 Truxton Road, Suite 202, Point Loma) with each space featuring a different performance centered on how we experience time. The show starts at and admission is free, but RSVP is required.
In December 2013, Morgan Mandalay had an idea: Why not use the front room of his Chicago apartment as an art gallery? The artist and curator got his roommate to agree and was born, inviting emerging artists to use the room to experiment and play. Now the former San Diegan is now back in town—working on his MFA at UCSD—and he’s brought Project Project with him, though the project's got a new name and exhibitions aren't being held in Mandalay's apartment. Project For 15, or SPF15, is a series of art shows happening in a 10-by-10-foot pop-up canopy on the beach. The first one opens from , on Dog Beach in Ocean Beach and features site-specific, sound works, drawings and sculptures by Chicago artists Connor Creagan, Tim Mann and Jon Waites. Email info@ for details. -project.com
About the music
San Diego was once referred to as "the next Seattle," considered to have an underground music scene on the cusp of national attention. So, what happened? It’s Gonna Blow: San Diego’s Music Underground 1986-1996 documents that scene's wariness of making it big and looks at what became of the musicians caught amid the hype. Unfortunately, a screening at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park is sold out, but there's a second screening happening in Tijuana on , at 1250 (located next to Mous Tache Bar at Calle Madero #1250, between 6th and 7th avenues). The film starts at , followed by performances by band Octagrape, Innerds and Bumbklaatt. Admission is a mere 30 pesos, or $3.
Delicious happy hour
Chef Christian Graves has been creating tasty eats at JSix Restuarant (616 J St., Downtown) for as long as we can remember and reaping well-earned best-chef (and, last year from Eater San Diego, "hottest chef") honors. In January, Graves comes out of the kitchen and takes a post behind the bar for Tapas Takeover, when he'll be preparing small plates with a different theme each week from , starting , and happening each Monday in January (each plate is a mere $5). The first takeover is all about ceviches that'll be paired with dealer's choice cocktails (JSix's head bartender, Chris Burkett, kicks ass). Charcuterie is the theme for . is described as "The Egg in fun presentations" and cheese rounds things out on .
If you don’t have kids, there’s a good chance you haven’t seen Frozen, the 2013 smash-hit animated Disney flick, and you wonder why some parents of young children are always threatening to set their faces on fire if they have to listen to the film’s soundtrack one more time. Your chance to finally see it while sipping cocktails has arrived, because it’s the next film in The Pearl Hotel’s Dive-In Theatre series, screening at Tuesday, Dec. 23, on the hotel’s poolside patio (1410 Rosecrans St., Point Loma). The movie, about two sister princesses’ struggle to come to terms with the older sibling’s special powers and save their kingdom from evildoers at the same time, is the fifth-highest grossing film of all time and the highest-grossing animated film ever. The following week, at , Dive-In Theatre will screen Mrs. Doubtfire, the 1993 comedy that stars the late, great Robin Williams as a voice actor who disguises himself as an elderly British housekeeper and lands a job with his estranged wife just so he can see his kids more often.