Electric Ladyland launches live theater offerings
by Bart Mendoza
Published - 06/13/12 - 02:57 PM | 2687 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A rendering made by Electric Ladyland co-owner Lynne Bolton shows the four front table settings inside the venue’s new theater for live productions and — later this summer — movie screenings. The rest of the floor plan is said to be theater seating on folding chairs with black chair covers and banquet seating along the wall.                                             Courtesy Lynne Bolton
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With its proximity to the beach and a host of nightspots to catch live music or comedy, Ocean Beach has long been an entertainment destination. The only thing missing from the arts equation has been a movie house or a spot to catch live theater.

Now, thanks to the folks at Electric Ladyland on Newport Avenue, both will soon be a part of the local area’s cultural highlights.

Opened in February 2010 by Paul and Lynne Bolton, the location is already established as a music venue and school for budding musicians. And beginning Thursday, June 21, Electric Ladyland will begin hosting plays from the Different Stages Theatre Company, with movie screenings to follow later this summer.

“We were given the opportunity to take over the back space of our building and knew that the area had always wanted more cultural activities,” said Lynne Bolton. “We realized that the school wasn’t enough to pay all the bills, so we looked at other things to expand what we’re doing. The theater idea seemed like a natural extension. We just put it online that we were interested in this and this wonderful man, Jerry Pilato, contacted us.”

Productions are booked through May 2013, with Craig Pospisil’s “Somewhere in Between” set to be staged June 21-29 at the 100-seat venue. Helmed by managing artistic director Pilato, who is best known for his work with Broadway San Diego, the production is directed by Kristen Fogle and George Bailey. Pilato spent 23 years producing works in Texas before relocating to San Diego in 2005.

According to Pilato, the name of the theater company may change, although it works in the interim.

“We have the original name because we didn’t have a home at the time and would literally be doing shows on different stages,” he said. “We’ll probably keep the name for a while, since plays go through different stages as well from auditions to finished performances, but my goal is to eventually change it to something with Ocean Beach in the title to promote its location.”

Pilato had been doing sporadic events, but a Facebook post from Electric Ladyland led him to the Boltons and the new arrangement.

“I’d been looking for a place, so when I saw Paul and Lynne saying online that they wanted to host live theater, I jumped at that,” said Pilato. “I’ve never really been able to promote a season of shows because I never knew where I would be able to stage things. So this is going to make things more exciting and doable.”

He plans for the productions to be eclectic.

“As far as genre or style goes, we’re going to be doing a little bit of everything,” he said. “I want to get into a position where we can actually do some musicals that aren’t necessarily the ‘Sound of Music’ or ‘Oklahoma,’” Pilato said.

There will also be late-night shows with more “off-the-wall” productions and evenings with one act, 10-minute plays.

Though Ocean Beach has not been previously noted for theater, Pilato feels the area is ripe for such a venture.

“I like the Ocean Beach ambience,” he said. “It’s so eclectic. I like the laid-back feel of the area. I also like the fact that it’s getting away from downtown, with Pacific Beach and Mission Beach nearby. We’re hoping to draw from those areas as well.”

Pilato said he is thrilled to have a new stage to work on.

“It’s a passion that I’ve had my whole life, that’s all I’ve been doing,” he said. “Finally, after living here for seven years, I have a place that I can call home as far as my theater group is concerned. This way I can plan out a season and get ready for the next year. It makes it all really exciting right now.”

For more information, visit electricladylandob.com, call (619) 222-0836 or email electricladyland@att.net.
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