Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Old Globe Theatre Celebrating Eighty Years in San Diego

Conrad Prebys Theater Centre

San Diego's Old Globe Theater was originally built in 1935 as part of the California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. The building was saved from the wrecking ball in 1937 by a local community theater group for $10,000. The restoration of the theater was a labor of love for the volunteers who worked and performed there until the outbreak of World War II.

During the war years--and for several years afterward--the Globe's stage was dark, except for USO shows broadcast nationally and overseas on Armed Services Radio for the troops. It was not until 1949 that the Old Globe re-instituted its annual Shakespeare Festival with a production of Twelfth Night.

The Old Globe began hiring professional Equity Actors in1959 attracting top talent like Christopher Walken, Michael Learned, Christine Ebersole, Robert Foxwood, Christopher Reeve, and David Ogden Stiers to name only a few. The roll call of fine actors who have graced the Old Globe's stage reads like a Who's Who of American actors.

Arson fire destroyed the Old Globe building on March 8th, 1978. The loss of their beloved theater hit the San Diego community hard. But the show must go on! The play running at the time was relocated downtown to the Spreckle's Theater--so it could complete its run. An outdoor structure was quickly built on an adjacent canyon hillside which was ready for the Old Globe's Summer Shakespeare Festival several months later.

The San Diego community rose to the call to rebuild the Old Globe. Fundraising events were held throughout San Diego ranging from blind auctions to Jazzercise marathons. Combined with business support and private endowment funding, the Old Globe was reborn in 1982. The state-of-the-art modern theater opened with a production of Shakespeare's As You Like It

Two years later, the temporary outdoor Festival Stage also fell victim to arson. It was immediately replaced with the 612 seat Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in 1985.

The Festival Stage
Today, the Conrad Prebys Theatre Centre includes the Old Globe Theatre, a proscenium arch stage; the Sheryl and Harvey White Theater, a theater-in-the-round stage; and the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, an outdoor amphitheater stage.

Built adjacent to the Old Globe are the box office, gift shop, administrative offices, and rehearsal halls. Lady Caroline's Pub lies between the White and the Festival theaters and helps frame the plaza welcoming a quarter of a million patrons to the complex annually.

In addition to Shakespeare's plays, the Old Globe produces a broad array of modern, classic, and original works. Fifteen plays hit the Globe's boards every year. Several of their debut productions have gone to Broadway winning Tony Awards. What began as a community theatrical enterprise has become a top-rated, nationally respected regional theater.

Preview scenes from this summer's 2015 Old Globe musical production of Kiss Me. Kate.