It’s perfectly imperfect. When the going gets tough, the tough go Underground to a dynamic dive bar, where bartenders, waitresses, pub regulars and mysterious strangers hash out love, life and heartbreak. The best part? They do so with alarming earnestness to the ballads of music legend Ben Folds.
The world premiere of Underground, a collaboration between the Coronado Playhouse and Blindspot Collective, is so popular that it’s been extended for an extra week, running through July 30.
The stylized comedy is set in the bowels of your local dive bar. It’s funny and gritty, and it’s totally immersive. When you walk in, you’ll find tables scattered around the room, strung white lights, posters, a stage for the band, and did I mention beer pong? The actors/bar staff wander all round you, scrambling onto tables and chairs and even grabbing audience members for their musical numbers.
The music, of course, is based entirely on the discography of master singer/songwriter/musician Ben Folds. (You’ll remember him from the band Ben Folds Five which rose to fame in the 1990s with songs like Brick, Army, and Rockin’ the Suburbs.) And unlike some other so-called “Jukebox Musicals,” the songs in Underground blend seamlessly with the storyline; it’s like they were written for the show.
The musical unearths complex harmonies in a series of flashbacks, dance numbers and storytelling, illuminating the histories and inner lives of the bar regulars. Part theatre, part concert, and part drinking game, this modern parable is a celebration of community and resilience as we “learn to live with what we are.”
The musical is directed and choreographed by Amy Cordileone, who returns to her hometown of San Diego after working across the country for the last 15 years. It was previously workshopped in San Diego and New York City before expansion for its world premiere. Blake McCarthy, of Blindspot Collective, says, “A workshop of this musical was one of the first things we produced in San Diego, and we’re excited to share it in an atmosphere that will foster a unique connection between performers and audiences.”
The world-premiere cast features Amanda Blair, Hannah Bosworth, Kevin Bradel, Hunter Brown, Sam Castillo, Hero Cordileone, Lu Garcia, Shane Hennessey, Joe Kao, Georgia Ladd, D. Mckenna, Dakota Ringer, Jerry Rodriguez, Sarah Jane Salonga, Dacara Seward, and Marisa Taylor Scott. The creative team includes Amy Cordileone (Director & Choreographer), Michael Tyree (Music Director), Shawn Foote (Stage Manager), Caroline Andrew (Lighting Designer), Cole Atencio (Sound Designer), Tammy Molenaar (Costume Designer), and Jacob Sampson (Scenic Designer).
Underground runs through July 30, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Saturdays & Sundays at 2pm. All performances are held at Coronado Playhouse, 1835 Strand Way, Coronado, CA 92118. Single tickets start at $24 with group discounts available for parties of 8 or more. Student, Military, and Senior Discounts are available.
ABOUT CORONADO PLAYHOUSE:
Established in 1946, Coronado Playhouse is the oldest arts organization in Coronado, the oldest community theatre in San Diego County, and according to the Los Angeles Times, the longest continuously running playhouse on the West Coast. Our mission is to produce theatrical works that entertain, engage, and enlighten the mind and spirit by fostering an appreciation of the performing arts in our community. The intimate 100-seat, cabaret-style theatre, overlooks beautiful Glorietta Bay and is part of the Coronado Community Center. The Playhouse is dedicated to providing quality entertainment, with a mix of classic and modern comedies, dramas and mysteries, dazzling musicals, colorful free classics, theatre for young audiences, concerts, and cabarets.
ABOUT BLINDSPOT COLLECTIVE…
Blindspot Collective develops transformative theatre that amplifies marginalized voices, illuminates untold stories, bridges disparate experiences, and energizes vulnerable communities. Since its founding in 2017, Blindspot Collective has collaborated with La Jolla Playhouse; The Old Globe; California Center for the Arts, Escondido; Diversionary Theatre; ARTS (A Reason to Survive); UC San Diego Department of Theatre and Dance; and other community partners to develop projects that meaningfully engage audiences and artists in the blindspot of society. The company has received acclaim for its original work, including site-specific events, new musicals, forum theatre, and verbatim plays. Blindspot Collective was the first theatre company to be awarded a residency at the San Diego International Airport and was selected “Theater of the Year” in 2020 by the San Diego Union-Tribune. Other honors include the 2022 Craig Noel Award for Outstanding Solo Performance, the 2020-21 company-in-residence at La Jolla Playhouse, and the Audience Favorite Award (2018) and Dunn-Rankin Award for New Work (2017) from the San Diego Fringe Festival.