San Diego County Arts Editor

Downtown’s theater cauldron is bubbling nicely now that both the Gaslamp Quarter Theatre and the San Diego Repertory Theatre have announced a couple of hot properties for their 1985-86 seasons. The coup of the lot seems to be the Gaslamp’s April 24 local premiere of Wendy Wasserstein’s comedy, “Isn’t It Romantic,” which is a hit in its West Coast premiere at the Los Angeles Stage Company West.

If that’s a coup, it’s because the Old Globe Theatre had originally contracted to open its current Jubilee Season with the play’s West Coast premiere, but those plans fell through. According to Tom Hall, Old Globe managing director, the play’s publisher requested that the Globe relinquish its rights in favor of the Los Angeles production, and the Globe assented. “It’s the same kind of thing we’ll do if, say, an actor gets a Broadway offer that conflicts with his Globe schedule,” Hall told The Times. “We figure that sort of thing will come back to us in the long run.”

After “Isn’t It Romantic,” the Gaslamp will present Noel Coward’s “Present Laughter” and Harold Pinter’s “The Homecoming,” then end the season with a world premiere: “The Girl’s Party,” a comedy-drama by Judy Romberger. On Feb. 20, the Gaslamp will mount the local premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s marital farce “Absent Friends.”

As for the San Diego Rep, it has announced William Mastrosimone’s volatile “Extremities” as the second play of its season, to follow the current production of “The Time of Your Life.” Mastrosimone’s play, opening March 22, is a violent and controversial depiction of an attempted rape and its aftermath. (By the way, the show-stopping gum-chewing contest scene in the Rep’s “The Time of Your Life” has gone from 24 to 31 pieces chewed per actor per night since the opening last week. But who’s counting?)


MORE PLAY BY PLAY: Meanwhile, the Old Globe isn’t exactly hurting for new plays. Its Play Discovery program has selected two more works for a prepared reading in the weeks ahead. The first, Robert Lord’s “Bert and Maisy,” portrays an aging New Zealand couple and is set for Monday. The second is Philip Kan Gotanda’s “American Tattoo,” set for Feb. 25. Gotanda is a third-generation Japanese-American who lives on the West Coast, and his play is a comedy about the struggle to maintain an ethnic identity in America. The readings will be presented at 8 p.m. on the Cassius Carter Centre Stage. Seating is not reserved, and admission is $3 general; $2 for full-time students and those over 60.

THE KELLY: The proposed Marina Park sculpture by master minimalist Ellsworth Kelly is slated for review Tuesday by the commissioners of the San Diego Unified Port District. Some members of the Port District arts advisory board have already seen Kelly’s maquette for the work, which consists of two separate yet visually linked elements. On one arm of the waterfront park would be a vertical element of stainless steel, tapering from the base to center, then widening again at the top. It’s a classic shape that Kelly has used in much of his sculpture. On the parallel jut of parkland would be a more horizontal element, a concrete wedge shape that is curved at the top. Apparently, the work would harmonize dramatically with the curving architecture of the Coronado Bridge and with the metallic skin of the nearby Hotel Inter-Continental.

REVE-NEWS: Good news on the financial front for San Diego’s leading arts institutions. The San Diego Symphony Orchestra has received a $50,000 challenge grant from the Parker Foundation, to be awarded when the orchestra garners $200,000 in sales and underwriting for its April-May Tchaikovsky Festival. The orchestra reports that it is already three-quarters of the way to the goal.

The Old Globe Theatre reports a 45% increase in subscription sales this season over last--a $462,207 increase in revenue, surpassing previous Globe records. Likewise, San Diego Opera membership revenues have increased nearly 45% during the 1984-85 season--a $140,000 increase in donations this season over last. And the San Diego Museum of Art, which is announcing its 1985 schedule of major exhibitions this morning, reports that a 27% rise in attendance at all Balboa Park institutions has been attributed to the blockbuster “Precious Legacy” exhibition at the museum last summer.