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24 Must-See Shows in San Diego

Get your tickets for OB Playhouse’s Avenue Q, San Diego Opera’s Carmen, and more


Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández

September 1

Can you tell me how to get to a raunchier version of Sesame Street? That’s the premise of the Tony Award–winning Avenue Q, a musical told via puppets known for its sometimes R-rated numbers.

At OB Playhouse through September 17


September 6

San Diego Rep’s Fun Home brings us a story about coming of age and coming out based on artist Alison Bechdel’s candid graphic memoir. Read more on page 97.

Through September 30


September 12

Chicago, the Tony-winning Broadway musical, premieres at Moonlight Amphitheatre. The Prohibition-era story involves murder, romance—and some razzle dazzle, of course.

Through September 29


October 5

Lamb’s Players Theatre stages a California premiere of Persuasion, Jane Austen’s final novel, dramatizing heroine Anne Elliot’s second go at finding love—with her former fiancé.

Through November 18


October 17

Where—and who—is Sherlock Holmes? Three men claim to be the missing detective and it’s up to his trusty sidekick to crack the case in North Coast Rep’s West Coast premiere and season 37 opener, Holmes & Watson.

Through November 11


October 18

Mexico City–based Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández unleashes 76 dancers at Escondido’s California Center for the Arts for traditional Mexican music, footwork, and costumes, one night only.


November 13

Inspired by the country legend’s 1995 holiday album, The Old Globe’s Looking for Christmas: The New Clint Black Christmas Musical follows Staff Sergeant Mike Randolf as he tries to reacclimate to civilian life after serving in Afghanistan.

Through December 16


November 16

New Village Arts’ production of a 2017 sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley places the beloved family home for the holidays—and with one unexpected guest who could be Mary’s long-awaited match.

Through December 23


Waitress | Photo: Joan Marcus

November 27

San Diego Civic Theatre is cooking up the buzzy musical Waitress, inspired by the 2007 film. The show—led by an all-female creative team that includes Tony Award–winning director Diane Paulus—follows a humble pie-maker’s attempt to leave her small town and loveless marriage with the help of a baking contest.

Through December 2


December 4

La Jolla Playhouse’s world premiere The Year to Come turns time on its head, taking audiences backward from 2017 to 2000 by way of a politically incorrect family’s annual New Year’s Eve gathering, examining how our potential futures depend on our past perspectives.

Through December 30


December 14

Bach Collegium San Diego combines the traditional Christmas narrative with some of the composer’s most thrilling music in J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio BWV 248.

Through December 15


January 10

Before Rafael Payare officially debuts in his role as music director next July, watch him take the podium for four nights of the San Diego Symphony’s fourth annual Hearing the Future festival, leading a program of Strauss, Britten, and Shostakovich.

Through January 27


January 20

In Moxie Theatre’s world premiere of Herland, Jean refuses to move into a retirement home, instead rounding up fellow septuagenarian best friends—along with an intern—to design an alternative abode.

Through February 17


January 30

Chinese traditions meet Shakespearean themes when Beijing Dance Theatre adapts scenes from Hamlet for UC San Diego’s ArtPower, depicting the Danish prince’s inner psychological conflict through contemporary choreography. One night only.


January 31

A gay Jesuit priest leaves the church to make amends with his estranged brother and must face his troubled past and an unfamiliar future—including new love—in Diversionary Theatre’s The Hour of Great Mercy.

Through March 3


February 9

You know Cheryl Strayed for her award-winning memoir and film Wild; now see The Old Globe’s adaptation of her best-selling book Tiny Beautiful Things, following the relationships between an anonymous advice columnist and the readers who write to her.

Through March 10


February 19

Long live royal wedding fever! La Jolla Playhouse honors the People’s Princess 22 years after her death with the highly anticipated world premiere musical Diana, which chronicles the 20-year-old bride’s revolutionary compassion in the face of a rigid monarchy, her distant husband, and unrelenting media scrutiny.

Through March 31


March 6

America’s AIDS outbreak and the conservative Reagan administration are the formidable backdrop for questions of love, loss, sex, heaven, and hell in 1980s New York in Tony Kushner’s poignant and hilarious Angels in America at Cygnet Theatre.

Through April 20


March 8

In Balanchine Masterpieces 2019, City Ballet of San Diego revives three of the legendary choreographer’s works, spanning 50 years: 1928’s mythic Apollo and a selection from 1967’s abstract Jewels, both set to Stravinsky, and The Four Temperaments, an experimental work from 1946.

At Spreckels Theatre through March 10



March 30

San Diego Opera closes its season with Bizet’s Carmen, about a gypsy woman in 19th century Spain who puts a naïve soldier under her spell, convincing him to ditch his sweetheart to be with her—until she leaves him for a bullfighter.

At San Diego Civic Theatre through April 7


April 5

A hopeless con artist gets in way over her head attempting to receive double wages in New Village Arts’ witty, world-premiere adaptation of the classic comedy The Servant of Two Masters.

Through May 5


May 14

Grab your golden ticket for Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at San Diego Civic Theatre. Songs from the original film, like “Pure Imagination” and “The Candy Man,” are sure to satisfy your nostalgic sweet tooth.

Through May 19


June 12

Mel Brooks’s The Producers follows a conniving duo who con a group of investors into putting money toward a sure-to-flop Broadway show called Springtime for Hitler. There’s just one problem—it’s a total hit.

At Moonlight Amphitheatre through June 29


July 10

Take a gamble on Another Roll of the Dice at North Coast Rep, a spiritual sequel to the iconic Broadway musical Guys and Dolls. Further stories from author Damon Runyon—including familiar characters like Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide—are once again brought to life through the music of Frank Loesser.

Through August 4

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Arts Preview 2018–2019:

24 Must-See Shows in San Diego

Get your tickets for OB Playhouse’s Avenue Q, San Diego Opera’s Carmen, and more

San Diego Repertory Theatre Stages a Moving Musical about Coming Out

After a three-year quest to obtain rights, the Rep will present Fun Home

State of the Arts in San Diego

Major changes coming to an art institution near you

A Day in the Life: Jean Isaacs of San Diego Dance Theater

We followed the Trolley Dances founder as she preps for the October performance

20 Must-See Exhibits in San Diego

Enjoy installation inspired by food to a collection of distinguished late baroque painters and more

What Does It Take to Transport a 111-Year-Old Painting?

The SDMA Curator of European Art details what it takes to escort Maria at La Granja around the world

Why Fans of 'Vogue' Magazine Will Swoon over MoPA’s Upcoming Exhibition

Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty will feature the works of the prolific fashion photographer

The Beginner's Guide to San Diego Arts

Still don’t know what to see? Take our simple advice on where to dip your toes in the arts scene this season
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More »Related Stories

San Diego Repertory Theatre Stages a Moving Musical about Coming Out

After a three-year quest to obtain rights, the Rep will present Fun Home

State of the Arts in San Diego

Major changes coming to an art institution near you

A Day in the Life: Jean Isaacs of San Diego Dance Theater

We followed the Trolley Dances founder as she preps for the October performance
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