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CCAE Theatricals is where artists and audiences come together to ask challenging questions and make space to contend with our past, our shared present and to collectively envision our future. 

From Tony Award-winning plays and musicals, to imaginative programs for young audiences, to interactive experiences outside our theater walls, CCAE brings people together to inspire discussion and open pathways to new ways of thinking.

A visit to the Center is an invitation to harness the transformative power of theatre to explore the here and now – and together, expand our world’s compassion, understanding and hope.

Join us.



CCAE Theatricals celebrates the human connection through theatre and education

by sharing stories that illuminate the individual experience and cultivate a collective voice.


Our core team has a long history of working in the theatre and performing arts under non-profit organizations including Cabaret at The Merc, The Barn Stage Company and the California Center for the Arts, Escondido Foundation. 


In 2018, a pivotal moment in our growth came when our current staff formed a valuable partnership with the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. This collaboration allowed us to expand our programming in theatre productions and reach a broader audience, elevating our productions and artistic offerings.


In 2020, we took the significant step of becoming a program department of the California Center for the Arts, Escondido aligning our goals and resources even more closely. This transition allowed us to deepen our commitment to arts and culture in the community and create a more cohesive artistic ecosystem.


In July 2023, marking another milestone in our journey, we decided to embark on a new chapter by establishing our own independent non-profit corporation. We separated from the California Center for the Arts, Escondido and incorporated in the state of California under the name CCAE Theatricals. With unwavering dedication and a vision to further our mission, we are now registered as a 501c3 Charitable Organization, providing us with the autonomy to continue nurturing the arts and culture in our community and fulfilling our commitment to producing exceptional theatrical and educational experiences for years to come.


We wrapped our innagural season just over two years ago with the closing of Witnesses, our first world premiere musical. The show received the highest praise from reviewers from all over San Diego saying “Witnesses sets new bar for dramatic quality,” (Escondido Times Advocate) and “Witnesses’ a triumphant world premiere for CCAE Theatricals” (San Diego Union Tribune). The Union Tribune even sent back their digital creative director, Michael James Rocha who wrote a commentary about his experience:


“Art, at its best, is supposed to make you think. You’re supposed to walk away from it a changed person - hopefully for the better.

When the last words echoed through the theater, I was a changed person. “Witnesses” did that. CCAE Theatricals did that.

When art touches your heart, it’s special. It’s magical. Something special is indeed happening in Escondido,

and how lucky we are to be here to witness it.”


In December of 2022, CCAE Theatricals was nominated for nine 2022 Craig Noel Awards by the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle, the most of any theatre in San Diego. At the ceremony in February, we took home four awards including the top award for Outstanding New Production for Witnesses.  


Our second season saw an incredible production of Ain’t Misbehavin’, directed by original Broadway cast member Ken Page, and a “breathtaking” and “note-perfect” production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George starring Broadway’s Will Blum. In January of 2024, we were nominated for nine 2023 Craig Noel Awards and won 3 awards including Best Resident Musical for Sunday in the Park with George. In July we closed our second world premiere production, Bottle Shock! The Musical, based on the 2008 movie starring Bill Pullman and Alan Rickman. Audiences were transported into the vineyard with a stunning scenic and lighting design and reviewers agreed, “Bottle Shock delivers a memorable and enchanting theatrical experience that celebrates the world of wine and the triumphs of the human spirit.”

We recently closed the first production in our 2023/24 Season, the San Diego premiere of the best-selling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The show was praised universally by our audiences and the San Diego press. Pam Kragen of the San Diego Union Tribune wrote this in her review:

"The moving, highly visceral and quite funny play made its San Diego premiere Saturday at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, in a magical and high-tech production directed by CCAE Theatricals artistic director J. Scott Lapp. This inventive and heartbreaking production is the best-staged show I’ve seen this year. And it features the best performance I’ve seen in a long time. Now in its third full season, the company has produced some of the county’s highest-quality and award-winning shows since 2022.

This show is no exception. Absolutely catch it before it’s gone."



World Premiere

Summer 22'



World Premiere

Summer 23'


With inclusion, collaboration, integrity, and kindness at the forefront, we work with artists and creatives to bring professional theatre

and world class education to North County San Diego and beyond.


CCAE Theatricals is the resident theatre company at California Center for the Arts, Escondido.

We are deeply grateful to the California Center for the Arts, Escondido Foundation for supporting our mission and  working with us to provide a space for professional theatre to thrive in North County San Diego!

With a mission of bringing people together to discover, create and celebrate both the visual and performing arts, the California Center for the Arts, Escondido is the cultural center of North San Diego County. The Center’s unique campus includes a 1,500-seat concert hall, a 400-seat theater, a contemporary art museum, art and dance studios, and a full-service conference center with meeting and banquet facilities ready to host corporate gatherings, weddings and other special life events. The Center also runs an extensive education program and produces over 52 free community events, such as Música en la Plaza, the Independence Day Festival, Día de los Muertos Festival, and the Winter Wonderland Festival. The Center’s activities are guided by a Board of Trustees and an administration and staff who are dedicated to furthering arts entertainment and arts education in the community, by sustaining and expanding programs that provide cultural enrichment for residents of North County and beyond.

While many of our productions continue to take place at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido - we are separate nonprofit organizations.  If you are looking for the venue website and a full listing of events taking place at their locations, please click here: 



CCAE Theatricals acknowledges the land on which our theaters sit as the unceded territory of the Kumeyaay/Kumiais and Payómkawichum (Luiseño) Nations. Today, the Kumeyaay people continue to maintain their political sovereignty and cultural traditions as vital members of the San Diego community. Their contributions to our region are tremendous and we express our deepest gratitude for their stewardship.


We are in the process of working with local tribal leadership to create a comprehensive acknowledgement. 


We welcome and encourage open discussion and comments within CCAE Theatrical’s social media and communications channels. We value feedback about Theatricals experiences in all circumstances. However, we expect that comments, posts and communications will always be respectful of others. We endeavor to maintain topical, courteous and respectful social media spaces and communications that are aligned to our organizational values, and duty of care to create and maintain a safe environment for all. We reserve the right to moderate or remove any comments that are not in line with our Social Media Community and Communications Guidelines.

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