LaDonna Adrian Gaines’ mother was a Boston schoolteacher, and her father was a butcher. Not exactly the pedigree for LaDonna’s international stardom, until the day she opened her mouth around age 10 to sing — and stopped the world on its axis. From Tuesday, Nov. 7, to Dec. 17, La Jolla Playhouse will present the world-premiere “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical,” charting the disco legend’s insane rise to popularity, which waned just as quickly prior to her cancer death in 2012 at age 63.
Former Playhouse artistic director, Des McAnuff, is back in the helm for this entry, which features three actors playing Summer and more than 20 chart-toppers. The show is at the Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at 858-550-1010 or at www.lajollaplayhouse.org.
Yekwan Sunwoo plays Van Cliburn
American piano icon Van Cliburn burst on the scene in 1958 as the first winner of the old Soviet Union’s International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians — and now, the La Jolla Music Society is set to present the winner of the competition that bears his name.
South Korea’s Yekwan Sunwoo, gold medalist at the event held last June in Fort Worth, Texas, will perform a program featuring selections by Mozart, Schubert and Ravel on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 3 p.m. at the Scripps Research Institute Auditorium, located at 10620 John J. Hopkins Drive. Get tickets at www.ljms.org or at 858-459-3728.
On Saturday, Nov. 11, legendary pianist Richard Goode will bring a program featuring works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Chopin, Beethoven and Schoenberg to the auditorium.
La Jolla Symphony Chorus
A concentric path leads both forward and back — and on Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. at UC San Diego’s Mandeville Auditorium, the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus will cast just such a passage with Concentric Paths, a program connecting the works of 20th-century French composer Francis Poulenc to those of his medieval countryman Guillaume de Machaut.
The orchestra music of English composer Thomas Adès will also be presented in San Diego for the first time. Thomas Nee Commission recipient Tina Tallon will also debut a work for orchestra and electronics. The Mandeville is located at 9500 Gilman Drive. Call 858-534-4637, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dia de los Muertos
Dia de los Muertos is more than an excuse to party — it’s a touchstone of Mexican culture, marking family connection and remembrance. Iconic Mexican vocalist Eugenia León, known for her victory in an international singing competition two days after the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, is San Diego Symphony’s special guest on Sunday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in Copley Symphony Hall, 750 B St. downtown. She’ll feature a program alongside guitarist Flavio Meneses Torres and pianist Rosino Serrano García. For tickets, call 610-235-0804 or www.sandiegosymphony.org.
France is fabulous. We’re going to go out on a limb and suggest that’s why the Symphony decided to call its Nov. 11 and 12 showcase Fabulous France, featuring an army of composers from the bright and brilliant Maurice Ravel to the darkly suggestive Gabriel Faure.
The pesky ol’ Grinch has been a thorn in Whoville’s side for 20 years this year in The Old Globe Theatre’s holiday musical “ Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” Then again, the proud townsfolk manage to turn him away every season as he tries to steal their gifts and generally make a mess of the holiday. Beginning Thursday, Nov. 9 and running through Dec. 24,
Cindy Lou Who will do the heavy lifting once again as her kindness turns the Grinch’s lump-of-coal heart to a diamond. The Globe is at 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park. Tickets are available at www.theoldglobe.org or 619-234-5623.
The Zoo Story
Site-specific theater can have its drawbacks, especially when the setting’s outdoors — but this is San Diego, where it hasn’t rained in 741 years except for last winter. That makes it a good time to take in San Diego Actors Theatre’s “The Zoo Story,”
Edward Albee’s two-character treatise on the despair that runs under middle-class life. The park setting recalls Albee’s love for Southern California — he served as artistic advisor to San Diego’s Playwrights Project play development group until his death in 2016.
The play runs at 2 p.m. through Nov. 12 at Mission Hills’ Pioneer Park, 1521 Washington Place. Tickets are available at www.sdactorstheatre.net/online or 858-268-4494.