Marty Burnett’s unprecedented streak of sets hits 150 at North Coast Rep

UT San Diego By James Hebert MARCH 28, 2014


Meet Marty Burnett, the Iron Man of the San Diego stage.

You might remember the baseball player who went by that name: Cal Ripken Jr., who set a major league record for consecutive games played over a span of more than 16 years.

Burnett might not swing much of a bat (golf’s his game anyway), but he’s got even Ripken beat in one way: For nearly 22 years, he has designed every single set that has gone up on the stage of North Coast Rep.

Read more>>


We are so lucky to have Jessica as our “razor-tongued” leading lady Celimene in this season’s critical favorite School for Lies. Jessica has also played leading roles for us in past productions of A Shayna Maidel and Lend Me A Tenor.  She is a lover of theatre and life, and seemingly carries that joy with her wherever she goes. We can’t wait to see what lies ahead for her.

Dream role: Blanche Dubois in Streetcar Named Desire.

Secretly wishes: I could own a sloth.

Favorite book: Lolita.  The Lover.  Gone Girl. The Dork of Cork.  (In that order… Hard to narrow down.)

As an audience member, what has been your favorite performance (in a play)?   
Mark Rylance in Jerusalem.  The most fearless, gusty and vulnerable performance I’ve ever seen.

As an artist, did you ever have what you would consider a turning point?  
Yes. I was in a two woman show with a FABULOUS actor who was suffering with a terminal illness.  SHE was the actor everyone was coming to see but she was struggling with her lines and really leaned on me to guide her through the show. It was both an honor and a confidence-builder. It was that wonderful moment of really being a part of a story. It wasn’t about my individual performance but about making sure that we were telling the story and knowing that I was an instrument to making sure that story was told.

David McBean and Jessica

What other artist(s) would you be excited to work with?
Oh… I love actors so much. I really love artists. I get excited when I find out that I’ll be working with people like David McBean or Francis Gercke or Phil Johnson or Shana Wride or Richard Baird or Amanda Sitton or any one of the beautiful people in this town who will battle and share with me on stage.  I’ve been very lucky to work with so many talented and truly incredible people. I want to work with all of them again and again to continue to grow and learn every day.

Jessica with Fran Gercke in Cygnets Desire Under the Elms

What do you love to do in your free time that you would rather not admit?
In my free time I adore taking long walks with my dogs and my husband, doing yoga, getting reflexology and playing pool and grabbing a drink in a dive bar. As far as those things I’d “rather not admit,” I suppose it would be the number of terrible reality shows I like to catch up on….  (Real Housewives, Dance Moms, Real World.)

Phil Johnson, Jessica and Richard Baird in School for Lies at North Coast Rep

Tell us about your ‘day job’ (because it is so cool!) 
I LOVE MY JOB!!!  I am the PR Manager for Helen Woodward Animal Center. I spend my days creating ridiculous PR Events like The Alumni Puppy Prom, The Doggie Gras Parade and Fat Cat Tuesday Celebration, PAWmicon, The Academy Award-Themed PAWscar Party, The Ken-BARKY Derby, etc. This means I get to be terribly creative and do fabulous photo shoots with adorable, adoptable orphan pets and promote all of my craziness on the local TV News and ultimately see these beautiful creatures leave us behind to live their lives in amazing forever homes.  My favorite moment in a day at work is hearing a voice over the intercom saying “(the name of an orphan pet) is going home,” and knowing that I was a part of making that happen. Someone once said that I had the job “every 12 year old girl dreams of…”  I think that’s a pretty accurate description.

Jessica at work

Is there anything that you think people would be surprised to learn about you? 
I think most people know that I’m a twin but if they don’t, they’re always surprised to see someone who looks just like me in the audience. She’s my very best friend.
They might not know that I was accepted to Law School and would have been a prosecuting attorney if it weren’t for a heartfelt conversation with my mother in a booth at a Chili’s Restaurant where she embraced my dream of becoming an actor with the sort of love and acceptance that only a mother can. I am grateful every day for that conversation. I was blessed with a truly wonderful mother.

Jessica and Jen



At the Actors Equity Association Centennial Celebration on the 17th of November David Ellenstein and North Coast Rep received a certificate of appreciation in honor of his many years of support and dedication to Actor’s Equity and the San Diego theatre community.

We have a nice certificate, a little gold medallion, and a fun book chronicling the last 100 years of AEA.




It’s the HUMBUG Black Friday & Cyber Monday deal that starts TODAY!

You’ve seen The Grinch, Christmas Carol & others… This is your chance to see a WORLD PREMIERE holiday show!!

Click here to
or Call (858) 481-1055

20% Off Full Price Tickets!!

Offer Expires December 3, 2013 at Midnight

Use Discount Code: OSMONDS

The Humbug code must be applied at time of purchase. May not be combined with any other offer. Discount offer on full price tickets only.

The Humbug Holiday Spectacular

December 11th – 28th
Starring Phil Johnson, Omri Schein, Debbie David
and Sarah Errington

If you loved PHIL JOHNSON and OMRI SCHEIN in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Leading Ladies, Don’t Dress For Dinner and Five Course Love, come see our fun loving actors in THE HUMBUG HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR.

Don’t miss this side-splitting hilarious show. Follow the wild and wacky adventures of Horatio the Humbug as he tries to create the perfect Musical Holiday Spectacular. Witty songs, vibrant dance numbers, and a little bit of everything to please even the grouchiest of holiday humbug-ers.


The Diary of Anne Frank

November 18, 2013

CLICK HERE to Purchase Tickets to The Diary of Anne Frank >>

SOLANA BEACH – Authenticity, remembrance and resonance are at the heart of The Theatre School@ North Coast Rep’s new production of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, which opens Nov. 21, and features a gripping new adaptation by Wendy Kesselman from the original stage play by Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett that weaves newly discovered writings from the diary of Anne Frank with survivor accounts.

Authenticity comes from the hours the cast of local 9- to 19-year-olds are spending time watching documentaries about Anne Frank (a 13-year-old Dutch girl who recounted her family’s struggles as they hid from the Nazis for two years), visiting the San Diego Jewish Academy (SDJA) and hearing the stories of Holocaust survivors, some of whom will tell their stories at the performances. The production was made possible by the City of Solana Beach.

Remembrance comes through the production’s participation in The Butterfly Project, a hands-on art project created by SDJA in 2006 to memorialize the Jewish children killed in the Holocaust. The project involves making 1.5 million ceramic butterflies worldwide in honor of the children’s memory. Theatergoers will have the chance to paint ceramic butterflies for a permanent display at the Theatre School.

Resonance comes from the way Anne Frank’s words affect readers and audiences, especially children and teens.

THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK’s director and the director of Theatre School Education & Outreach is Siobhan Sullivan. She noted that the book or play is on the required reading lists of most San Diego County eighth-graders. “Here is an actual person, their age, who never got to grow up. A group of people had so much hatred that they silenced 6 million people, but still her voice can be heard through the telling of her story, using her words. We have gone to great lengths to make sure all our cast understands that to tell this story is a great responsibility and should be handled with respect, but also show that this family is a normal family in unusual circumstances,” she added. “We want to make sure the audience feels a part of the experience – a part of the family, so to speak.”

After the performances, audiences will hear from Holocaust survivors such as Fanny Krasner Lebovits, who was born in Lithuania and was liberated after living in four concentration camps. The great-grandmother will speak after the Nov. 23 matinee at 2 p.m.

“By creating a safe place for the community to hear from people who lived through the horrors of the Holocaust, we can help them heal by sharing their stories and creating an action plan to stop the genocide of so many throughout the world,” Sullivan Crews said.

“Our production of Anne Frank is an honest look at her story. Abby DeSpain (who plays Anne), being only 9, brings an innocence and vulnerability to the show that is heartbreaking.”

DeSpain, from Del Mar, is joined by Andrea Bullar (Edith Frank,  from Oceanside), Kayla Cruise (Margot Frank, from Encinitas), Sophia Dargie (Miep Gies), Christian Payne (Peter Van Daan, from San Marcos), Audrey Hebert (Mr. Kraler, from Encinitas), Maia Zelkind (Mrs. Van Daan), Phillip Magin (Mr. Van Daan, from Solana Beach), Geoff Geissinger (Mr. Dussel, from Carmel Valley), Bryan Dorman (SS Officer, from Lakeside), Sara Wolfkind (Anne Frank Understudy/Assistant Director, from University City), Elena Trask (Mrs. Frank Understudy/Assistant Director), and Anna Makris (Assistant Director/Butterfly Project, from Del Mar). Local actor John Tessmer plays Otto Frank and serves as the actor mentor for the production.

One way the cast of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK is preparing for the roles is with a Nov. 13 visit to the SDJA in San Diego. Academy students and staff will hold a mock Shabbat (rituals observed on the Jewish Sabbath) and the cast will perform an excerpt from the Anne Frank Chanukah scene, and hear from a Holocaust survivor. The group will also paint butterflies for the Butterfly Project and learn more about the project’s impact. For more information about the SDJA project, go to:

Theatergoers who want to participate in the Butterfly Project at Theatre School’s performances are encouraged to bring a $5 donation and come as early as an hour before the performance to allow time to paint.

The goal of the Butterfly Project — to empower participants to speak out against antisemitism, human suffering and genocide — fits well with Sullivan Crews’ hopes for the production.

“We hope to show the connection between the story of Anne Frank and all the atrocities that have happened worldwide since then. The reason not to forget is to make sure you take action to prevent it from happening again”, says Sullivan Crews.

CLICK HERE to Purchase Tickets to The Diary of Anne Frank >>


David Ellenstein & San Diego Supervisor Dave Roberts

David Ellenstein earned a proclamation for his outstanding work as artistic director of North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach presented by Supervisor Dave Roberts, while San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts received a sponsor of the year award from North Coast Rep!

“… BE IT PROCLAIMED by Chairman Greg Cox and all members of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on this 29th day of October 2013 that they commend DAVID ELLENSTEIN for 10 years of services to the North Coast Repertory Theatre, and do hereby declare that this day be “DAVID ELLENSTEIN DAY” throughout San Diego County.”

Thank you!





Meet Randall Dodge

September 12, 2013

With his beautiful baritone, comic timing and commanding stage presence Randall has been an audience favorite of theatre’s all over San Diego county. Currently playing “The Lord” in Man With A Load of Mischief for us at North Coast Rep, it’s difficult to take your eyes off of him, and even more difficult not be smiling while doing so.

He’s a favorite around here too.

Favorite Play: Sweeney Todd
Dream Role: “Javert” in Les Miserables
Plays at NCRT: Story Theatre, No Way To Treat A Lady, The Fantastiks and Man With A Load Of Mischief
Favorite performance: Bill Irwin in Fool Moon on Broadway in the 90′s. I have never laughed so hard or been so inspired.
Favorite Book: The Princess Bride by William Goldman.
Greatest indulgence: working in the garage on my Vespa… getting my hands dirty.
What inspires me: generosity and simplicity of design.
Secretly wishes: to be on a sit-com
Favorite day: on the beach with my wife and kids.
Free time: spent in the garage. I can work on polishing a single piece of metal for hours and not think about anything but that piece of metal. It’s very relaxing and freeing. It’s meditative.
Dream vacation: Tour the Piaggio factory in Pontedera Italy and then ride vintage Vespa scooters across Tuscany with the love of my life, Brenda.
Hometown: Long Beach California.
Favorite quote or motto for life: Stagger onward rejoicing, WH Auden.

I wish I were more patient, more generous, more loving, more attentive, more grateful, more caring, and more involved.

With Tatiana Mac in North Coast Repertory Theatre's Man With A Load Of Mischief
As the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz at Moonlight Stage Productions.
As the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz at Moonlight Stage Productions.
As The Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas at Old Globe.
With wife, actress Brenda Dodge.
In Chicago at the Welk Resort.
In Beau Jest with Eric Poppick, Jill Drexler, Dana Fares and Cris O'Bryon at The Avo.


Man With A Load of Mischief @NorthCoastRep

North Coast Rep is staging revival of obscure, once-popular 1960s piece

By James Hebert, San Diego Union Tribune

As a theater-obsessed kid in the late 1960s, Rick Simas just about wore out his vinyl copy of the rare cast album from a curious off-Broadway musical called “Man With a Load of Mischief.”

As a director and community-college professor in the early ’90s, Simas returned to the old favorite, this time directing a Bay Area production.

Two decades later, “Mischief” — a 1966 chamber piece by composer John Clifton and writer/co-lyricist Ben Tarver — remains about as obscure as ever. Yet the ever-loyal Simas is staging it once again, this time at North Coast Rep in Solana Beach.

“The strange thing is that nobody knows this musical ­— and I’m probably the only person in the nation, or the world, who has directed it twice,” says Simas, a frequent NCRT collaborator who also heads the MFA program in musical theater at San Diego State University.


Has It Been Ten Years?

August 7, 2013

Artistic director celebrates 10 years at Solana Beach theater

By Kristina Houck, Del Mar Times

The theater’s continued success is thanks in large part to David Ellenstein, who has been artistic director for a decade. From choosing plays and hiring directors, to meeting with donors and board members, Ellenstein is responsible for “setting the theater’s tone.”

“I like being the person who is responsible for making sure the experience of coming to North Coast Rep is a satisfying and fulfilling one,” Ellenstein said. “Seeing people have that experience makes me really happy that we’re doing a good job and a good thing.”

Committed to promoting theater arts, North Coast Repertory Theatre produces seven main stage productions each season. The nonprofit organization also offers a holiday show, off-night events and a theater school.

“I like to say we’re not a community theater; we’re a theater for the community,” Ellenstein said. “We create the best possible thing, drawing from the best local talent and the best national talent.”

CLICK HERE to read the entire article >>>



Dear Patrons,

As we head into our summer farce that will close a successful season 31, I wanted to share some thoughts with you about our recently closed production of BECOMING CUBA.

Unlike the usual fare we present, BECOMING CUBA was a commissioned world premiere. This means nothing existed before we began. Through generous donors, Jenie and Vin Altruda, we commissioned a playwright with a national reputation, Melinda Lopez, to create a work for us.  We held a developmental workshop ten months prior to rehearsal and we nurtured the progress as the play took shape.

Becoming Cuba

From start to finish, this journey was nearly two years. We were written up in the American Theatre Magazine and garnered national attention. I am happy to say it

is not over, as the play will now go forward to be produced at the prestigious Huntington Theatre in Boston. We have created a new work of theatrical art to add to the national canon. It has been an amazing experience.

The play and production was greatly challenging to North Coast Rep and to me personally as director. The script was changing as we rehearsed and the artists working on the piece had direct influence on the shape that it took. I am very proud of what we created and presented at North Coast Rep. Ms. Lopez learned so much from this initial production that will now be further refined and adjusted as it moves forward to another group of artists to interpret.

Though this is not our normal programming or process, this occasional departure into unknown territory is a healthy and wholly worthwhile path, as it inspires all of us to tackle new ideas and modes of achieving them. It is an intrinsic and important component of being a healthy and prosperous theatre arts organization that we hope to continue in the upcoming seasons.

I want to take this moment to thank each of you for supporting the journey of BECOMING CUBA. There is nothing more creative and exciting for a theatre company than to create something brand new. It is riskier, as there is no proven track record, and it is a leap of faith for the artists, the arts organization and the audience.  Your participation and willingness to be part of this creative process is essential and much appreciated.

Onward to what promises to be a quite excellent Season 32!

Warmest regards

David Ellenstein
Artistic Director

{ 1 comment }