Cygnet Theatre's Season 14 to Feature GYPSY, ON THE 20TH CENTURY & More

Every season must reflect the mission of the company and for the past 13 years, Sean Murray has crafted uniquely Cygnet seasons that reflect the commitment to "startle the soul, embrace diversity and ignite debate." This year is no exception. The seven productions in Season 14 range from the traditional to the avant-garde and include two musical theatre classics, a two-show repertory by a Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, the return of a holiday favorite and two contemporary works sure to shock and amaze.

The season opens this summer with one of the most beloved stage musicals of our time, Gypsy - the mother of all musicals! With music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents, the musical theatre classic has been revived on Broadway four times and been staged countless times around the world. San Diego audiences will get a chance to experience this jewel of American musical theatre when Cygnet Theatre and Director Sean Murray bring Mama Rose, Dainty June, Louise, and the entire 19-member cast to the Old Town Theatre. Boasting one show-stopping song after another, this classic musical will feature the biggest cast ever to appear on a Cygnet stage. Linda Libby, 2013 Craig Noel San Diego Critics Circle Actor of the Yearand Cygnet Resident Artist, steps into the iconic role of Mama Rose. Showcased along with Ms. Libby will be Allison Spratt Pearce, recently featured in Cygnet's My Fair Ladyand Come from Away at La Jolla Playhouse, as Louise. Katie Whalley Banville

will portray Dainty June while Cygnet's own Manny Fernandes will take on the role of Herbie.

In the fall, Cygnet's tradition of shows performed in rotating rep continues with the staging of two renowned works by August Wilson, both part of his ten-play Century Cycle.Wilson's legacy lives on through this cycle of plays chronicling the African American experience, each set in a different decade of the 20th century. The selection of SevenGuitars and King Hedley II is especially fascinating to present in Rep as several characters appear in a story line decades apart. Cygnet received major accolades from their staging of Wilson's Fences in 2008 which was honored as the best show of the year by multiple critics. Cygnet also presented The Piano Lesson in 2010 and Gem of the Ocean in 2013.

A Cygnet tradition returns for the holidays with A Christmas Carol, Critics Choice of 2014 (SD Union Tribune) and always a beloved family favorite complete with puppets, live music and a sing along.

January brings Bad Jews to the stage - a fierce, biting comedy about family, faith and what you choose to believe, when you're chosen. Rob Lutfy directs this Off-Broadway hit featuring the savage humor of playwright Joshua Harmon. The play follows the trials and family tribulations of an Upper West Side family in a verbal battle royale over a family heirloom.

In March, a luxury train rolls into town bringing nonstop laughter and mayhem. The madcap musical comedy, On the Twentieth Century features the writing talents ofComden and Greene. This musical comedy duo lent their unique comic genius and sophisticated wit to dozens of Broadway hits including On the Town and Bells are Ringing. On the Twentieth Century will be directed by Sean Murray and feature Eileen Bowman as Lily Garland and Melinda Gilb as Mrs. Primrose.

Cygnet's fourteenth season ends with the manic, irreverent and wildly engaging presentation of the German theatrical event, Shockheaded Peter. This 1998 musical took a famed German children's book series and turned it into instant classic in its own right. The stage production of Shockheaded Peter won rave reviews around the world as one of the most original collaborations of its kind. The crazy and dark production combines elements of pantomime and puppetry with musical versions of the poems with the song. Buckle up for a wild ride directed by Rob Lutfy, who adds, "It's a play for the weird ones, those that live on the fringes of society, or for anyone who has ever felt like they don't quite fit in to a society of strict rules."

"I'm really proud of the diversity and quality of this season," said Artistic Director Sean Murray. "To go from stripper to an ex-con, to some 'bad Jews,' to one naughty little boy in just one season. That's exciting. That's Cygnet!"

All seven productions will be performed in Cygnet's home, the Old Town Theatre in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Current Cygnet subscribers will be notified by mail regarding subscription renewals. New subscription sales will be available beginning March 1st. For more information regarding subscriptions packages please contact the box office at 619-337-1525 or

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SEASON XIV: 2016-2017

List of Plays


July 14th - Sept 4th

Opening July 23rd, 2016

Music by Jule Styne and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Book by Arthur Laurents

Directed by Sean Murray

Choreography by David Brannen

Music Direction by Terry O'Donnell

Indomitable stage mother Rose chases vicarious success and stardom as she pushes her daughters through the vaudeville circuit. When Dainty June flees the act to elope, Rose vows to make introverted Louise into a star. Boasting one show-stopping song after another - like "Everything's Coming Up Roses" and "Let Me Entertain You" - this classic musical was inspired by memoirs of the legendary burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee. Featuring Linda Libby as Mama Rose, Allison Spratt Pearce as Louise, Katie Whalley-Banville as Dainty June, and Manny Fernandes as Herbie.

"The quintessential American musical" - Hollywood Reporter



Sept 28th - Nov 6th

Opening Oct. 8th 2016

By August Wilson

San Diego Premiere

In the backyard of a Pittsburgh tenement in 1948, friends gather to mourn for a blues guitarist and singer who died just as his career was on the verge of taking off. The action that follows is a flashback to the busy week leading up to Floyd's sudden and unnatural death. Seven Guitars is part bawdy comedy, part dark elegy and part mystery. This lyrical play is the fifth in August Wilson's ten-play cycle which charts the African-American experience through each decade of the 20th century and is performed in rep with King Hedley II.

"Rich, music-drenched drama" - New York Times



Sept. 29th - Nov. 6th

Opening Oct. 9th 2016

By August Wilson

San Diego Premiere

King Hedley II shares the story of King - a man recently released from prison, attempting to rebuild his life amid changing times and a backdrop of the crime and drug struggles in the community where he exists. King dreams of a life of stability and self-reliance beyond incarceration, gangs and broken family. The play dares to ask what it takes to transcend the limitations of life and personal circumstance, and if pure will is enough to change a man's destiny. King Hedley II is the ninth play in August Wilson's ten-play cycle that, decade by decade, examines African American life in the United States during the twentieth century.

"Mesmerizing.... Full of powerful images that convey the darkly comic dialogue between hope and hopelessness in African American life." - N.Y. Daily News


Nov 22nd - Dec 24th

Opening Nov. 26th, 2016

Adaptation & Lyrics by Sean Murray

Original Score by Billy Thompson

Directed by Sean Murray

Musical Direction by Patrick Marion

Cygnet Theatre invites you to start your own family tradition with one of ours. This season welcomes the return of the holiday classic adapted from Charles Dickens' timeless tale of hope and redemption. This re-imagined, fully staged production features original new music, creative stagecraft and puppetry, and live sound effects. Step into a Victorian Christmas card for a unique storytelling experience that is sure to delight the entire family!

"Critics Pick" in 2014 - San Diego Union-Tribune


Jan 12th - Feb 12th

Opening Jan 21st, 2017

By Joshua Harmon

Directed by Rob Lutfy

San Diego Premiere

The night after their grandfather's funeral, three cousins engage in a verbal battle royale over a family heirloom. In one corner is the unstoppable and self-assured force of "Super Jew" Daphna. In the other, the immovable and entitled object of her secular cousin Liam. And in the middle is Liam's brother Jonah, trying to stay out of the fray. Bad Jews is a savage comedy about family, faith, and legacy.

"The funniest play of the year." - Washington Post

"Delectably savage humor" - New York Times


March 9th - April 30th

Opening March 18th, 2017

Book and Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green

Music by Cy Coleman

Directed by Sean Murray
San Diego Premiere

It's nonstop laughs aboard the Twentieth Century, a luxury train traveling from Chicago to New York City. Luck, love and mischief collide when the bankrupt theater producer Oscar Jaffee embarks on a madcap mission to cajole glamorous Hollywood starlet Lily Garland into playing the lead in his new, non-existent epic drama. But is the train ride long enough to reignite the spark between these former lovers, create a play from scratch, and find the money to get it all the way to Broadway? Featuring Eileen Bowman (Company) as Lily and Melinda Gilb (A Christmas Carol) as Mrs. Primrose.

"Old-fashioned musical comedy magic" - USA Today

"The show is a nonstop delight." - New York Post


May 18th - June 18th

Opening May 27th, 2017

Music by Adrian Huge, Martyn Jacques, Adrian Stout

Lyrics by Martyn Jacques

Book by Julian Bleach, Anthony Cairns, Graeme Gilmour, Tamzin Griffen

Based on Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffmann

Directed by Rob Lutfy
West Coast Regional Premiere

Fall into the world of Victorian steam-punk nightmares as a manic music box spins stories of naughty children and misguided parents. Silly and sinister, Shockheaded Peterdares us to ask what's beneath the floorboards. Don't miss the most damning tale ever told on stage!

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