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Theater Notebook: Comedian Kevin Hart added to San Diego County Fair grandstand lineup

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Comedian Kevin Hart has been added to the San Diego County Fair’s Grandstand lineup, with a ticketed concert at 7:30 p.m. June 9.

Tickets are now on sale, starting at $73. VIP packages, priced up to $848, include front row tickets, swag, pre-show lounge invitation and more. All showgoers will be required to seal their cellphones in Yondr magnetic pouches during the show. This protects comedians from having their original material filmed and shared on social media.

For tickets, visit sdfair.com/grandstand.

Former tennis star Billie Jean King.

Former tennis star Billie Jean King speaks during the opening ceremony of the U.S. Open tennis championships on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. She’s the subject of a new play by Anna Deavere Smith at La Jolla Playhouse this summer.

(Associated Press)

L.J. Playhouse ticket sales begin

The La Jolla Playhouse has opened ticket sales for the first three productions of its 2023-24 season. All three are world premieres.

“Love All” by Anna Deavere Smith is the story of trailblazing tennis player Billie Jean King. It will play in June 3 to July 2 at the Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Theatre.

“Is It Thursday Yet?” is an innovative dance theater piece performed by dancer/choreographer Jenn Freeman that explores her neurodivergent brain through dance, live music, home video footage and audio narration. She is co-creating and co-choreographing the piece with the show’s director Sonya Tayeh. It runs July 11 to Aug. 6 in the Playhouse’s Forum Theatre.

“The Untitled Unauthorized Hunter S. Thompson Musical,” featuring a rock ‘n’ roll score by Joe Iconis and book by Iconis and Gregory S. Moss, will tell the musical story of the famed counterculture journalist. It will be directed by Playhouse artistic director Christopher Ashley in the Playhouse’s Potiker Theatre and runs Aug. 26 through Oct. 1.

For tickets, visit lajollaplayhouse.org/the-season.

Junior Theatre hires new artistic director

San Diego Junior Theatre has hired Joey Price, an SDJT alumnus, as its new artistic director.

Price worked as a teaching artist and director in public schools and summer camps with the San Francisco Arts Education Project and was a longtime performer and teacher at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York. He will complete his master’s degree in educational theater in New York this spring before moving to San Diego to step into his new role on June 1.

Price grew up in San Diego, where he spent eight years as a student and performer for SDJT, which, at age 75, is the nation’s longest-running youth theater program.

“It’s so wonderful to be returning to this place that set me up for success,” Price said in a statement. “I think an organization like JT offers so much to all young people, regardless of whether they end up pursuing a career in the arts. We’re able to teach them about collaboration, problem-solving and how to advocate for yourself. JT offers students a space to explore and discover their artistry, which might be something like acting, singing or dancing, but could also be puppetry or lighting or sound design. I also hope to continue creating immersive and engaging experiences for our audiences, so young people can discover how wonderful and magical theatre is too.”

James Saba, SDJT’s executive director, said: “Joey is a tremendously innovative and insightful educator, artist and theater manager. I am certain Joey will use the skills and values that shaped him as a student at Junior Theatre to explore new directions for taking the program into an exciting next chapter of our 75-year history.”

Price replaces Desha Crownover, who stepped down last fall after serving for 15 years in the role.

Scripteasers hosts 75th anniversary readings

Following a three-year pandemic-related break, San Diego’s Scripteasers returns to production May 8 with its 75th anniversary showcase of new play readings.

Formed in 1948, Scripteasers bills itself as the longest continually operating organization in the nation dedicated to helping writers refine their craft. Scripteasers presents new play readings on the second and fourth Fridays of each month. Mitch Feingold, organizer of the May 8 showcase, said Scripteasers has presented readings of more than 1,500 scripts over the past 75 years.

“We are looking forward to an outstanding showcase which will highlight new work by San Diego playwrights, performed by San Diego actors,” Feingold said in a statement.

James Hebert.

James Hebert.

(Gerald McClard / Union-Tribune)

The showcase will feature readings of new plays by seven local playwrights. Amy Dell, Richard Fouts, Katharine Rex, Tori Rice, Roy Sekigahama, Marielle Vizcarra and former San Diego Union-Tribune theater critic James Hebert, who left the newspaper in 2020 and now works as a content creator for the San Diego Tourism Authority.

The Scripteasers 75th Anniversary Showcase will be presented at 7:30 p.m. May 8 at Lamplighters Community Theatre, 5915 Severin Drive, La Mesa. Suggested donation is $15 at the door. Visit scripteasers.org.

Kragen writes about theater for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at pam.kragen@sduniontribune.com.

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