MVP: Becky Biegelsen
Every year the San Diego Performing Arts League honors volunteers for special recognition with a STAR award. These are the workers who devote hours and hours to keep an organization going.
There is no comparable award for behind the scenes professionals. If there were, then Becky Biegelsen, press representative for the La Jolla Playhouse, would win the MVP Award.
Her press releases are the most complete, best written, and easiest to follow for arts writers who get over 30 releases a week. Her access to writers and promptness with information — from interviews with an artist to the spelling of a word — are unmatched.
And unsung, until now. In San Diego theater Becky Biegelsen deserves the MVP award for “Most Valuable Publicist.”
A year ago, Moxie Theatre and Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company teamed up for The Bluest Eye, an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel. The production earned Craig Noel Awards for Direction (Delicia Turner Sonnenberg), Ensemble, and Dramatic Production of the Year.
In 2014, the San Diego Repertory Theatre and the La Jolla Playhouse co-staged Herbert Sequenza’s El Henry. The contemporary version of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part I received five Craig Noel Award nominations for 2014.
May this trend continue.
Carry the legacy forward
Kathy Brombacher deserves an SDTI medal — San Diego Theater Icon. For 32 years, she put, and kept, North County on the theatrical map as a teacher, director, and founding artistic director of Moonlight Stage Productions. When she retired in December 2012, she became one tough act to follow.
So it seemed, until Steve Glaudini took over the helm. Glaudini, who had a long association with Moonlight as a performer and director, and whose love of musical theater might rival Brombacher’s, has produced two excellent summer seasons at the outdoor amphitheater. Attendance has risen, in part because of his emphasis on musicals appealing more to young audiences. The transition has been flawless. There may be a SDTI medal in his future.
New directors, old hands
San Diego theater’s enjoying a most promising trend. Veteran actors trying their hand at direction for the first time — with impressive results.
The most recent, Brian Salmon did a bang-up job with Alan Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular for Scripps Ranch. You’d think he’d have picked something easier than this Rubik’s Cube of a comedy where, in Act Two, a kitchen-full of wackos do unrelated repairs as if each were in a separate play.
Same for Annie Hinton. Last year, she coaxed first-rate performances from one tough script: Annie Baker’s spare drama, Circle Mirror Transformation at New Village Arts.
Same for Jessica Johns’s smart staging of Regrets Only at Diversionary. And for “relative” newcomers Shana Wride and Daren Scott.
Basketball scouts give prospects labels. The highest of these is the “lottery pick,” a player picked high in the draft expected to make an immediate impact as the professional level.
For San Diego theater, Michael Mizerany has made an impact as a choreographer — for over a decade. Along with dancing and serving as associate artistic director for Malashock Dance from 2001 to 2013, he has choreographed critically-acclaimed shows all over town, including Grey Gardens and Ass, or A Midsummer Night’s Fever for Ion Theatre, Altar Boyz, Divine Sister, Miss Kitty’s Wild West Revue, Scrooge in Rouge, and Hot Guys Dancing for Diversionary (also dance pieces Far From Eden and Let Me into Your Skin).