Theater notebook: San Diego Musical Theater leaves Horton Grand for new Kearny Mesa space


After five years of producing shows at the Horton Grand Theater in San Diego’s Gaslamp District, the San Diego Musical Theater has announced that it will be producing its as yet unannounced 2022 season at Kearny Mesa.

Starting with its pre-professional production of Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” which will open on October 1 for a three-week period, SDMT will consolidate its operations – including theatrical productions, acting classes, drama camps and workshops. – in its new location at 4650 Mercury St. in San Diego.

The theater company creates a black box-style theater space inside the two-story lightweight industrial building that has been used since 1975 by Party Plastics, a Tupperware company owned by SDMT co-founders and producers Gary and Erin Lewis. The Lewisons are now retiring from Tupperware so they can focus all of their energies on family and MTDS.

Erin Lewis said that MTDS ‘lease on the Horton Grand had expired this year and the company had failed to find a new theater space to present its 2022 season. Thus, the closure of Party Plastics created an excellent opportunity for the theater company to use its space.

Party Plastics was one of the most successful Tupperware distributors in the country, ranking No. 1 in the United States for several years and, at one point, No. 1 in the world. Through the success of their business and their shared love of musical theater, the Lewisons founded MTDS in 2006 as a non-profit theater organization that produces musicals on Broadway.

The San Diego Musical Theater creative team of Robert and Jill Townsend, left, and Erin and Gary Lewis, with Townsends 6-year-old son Chase in the foreground.

(San Diego Musical Theater)

The Lewisons became more involved in the local theater community as volunteers and donors after their daughter, Jill Townsend, began performing locally and then nationally. Today, Townsend is the artistic and casting director of SDMT and her husband of 16 years and fellow theater artist, Robert Townsend, is the company’s director of education.

SDMT was already using the Kearny Mesa space for rehearsals, auditions and educational programs. But now that the building’s TupperStudio auditorium is available, that room has been converted into a flexible theater space that can now accommodate up to 120 people. Earlier this month lights and sound equipment were installed and a booth was built for the sound design and stage manager. After “Rent” closed, Lewis said a new stage floor would be installed and further upgrades were planned.

Lewis said SDMT is still on the lookout for a new permanent home theater for its professional shows starting in 2023, but the company plans to keep the SDMT Stage black box space at Kearny Mesa for cabarets, readings, entertainment. special events and rentals.

Gary Lewis has said it has been a tough 18 months for the theater, but is optimistic about what will happen next.

“It’s exciting to see how much we’ve grown despite everything thrown at us from the pandemic to the immediate need for a new venue, making us truly appreciate how much our staff, cast and crew. are resilient while optimistically awaiting our inevitable bright future, ”he said.

“Rent,” featuring a cast of actors ages 15-21, is directed by Courtney Corey with musical direction by Victor Chan. Performances take place at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from October 1 to 17 at the SDMT Stage Theater. Tickets start at $ 25. A full vaccination is required or a negative COVID-19 PCR test is required within 72 hours of performance. Masks are mandatory inside. Call (858) 560-5740 or visit

Cygnet distributes free tickets

Cygnet Theater is offering free tickets to healthcare workers for its current production of “La Cage aux Folles”, which will run until November 7th.

The giveaway is subject to availability, limited to one ticket per healthcare worker, and excludes matinee performances. For more information on the program, call the box office at (619) 337-1525 or email the box office at [email protected] A valid photo ID and health care or hospital business card or badge will be required at the time of ticket pickup.

Kragen written in theater for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email him at [email protected]


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