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CCAE Theatricals re-establishes itself as an independent nonprofit, announces upcoming season

The company’s plans for 2024 include the San Diego premiere of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and a concert reading of the musical Parade in collaboration with the Lipinsky Family San Diego Jewish Arts Festival.


November 5, 2023


Back in February, the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle honored 3-year-old CCAE Theatricals with two of its highest awards — for producing the county’s top production of 2022, the world premiere musical Witnesses, and the Don Braunagel Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Small Theater. But just six months later, CCAE Theatricals was forced into hiatus.

CCAE Theatricals was founded in February 2020 by managing producer Jordan Beck and artistic director J. Scott Lapp as the in-house theater producer at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. But in August, the city-owned arts center eliminated the theater company from its budget due to ongoing financial challenges. 

But that wasn’t the end of CCAE Theatricals. It was the beginning of a new chapter as a self-supporting independent nonprofit that will continue presenting its shows at the Escondido arts center as the resident professional theater company.

Over the past three months, CCAE Theatricals has re-established itself as a nonprofit and reorganized in a small San Marcos office. Julianna Crespo, formerly the director of performing arts at the arts center, has signed on as the theater company’s new executive director. Tom Abruzzo, who formerly led the theater company’s conservatory training program at the center, is now the company’s director of education and engagement. 

The company’s education program, launched at the center earlier this year, was established with a $1 million grant from the San Marcos-based David T. & Dorris E. Staples Foundation. It provides K-12 theater education program with drama camps and master classes. There is also a Conservatory program where post-high school paid apprentices are given professional workforce development training in theater trades such as scenic and costume design, community relations and production and company management. The program offers up to 400 needs-based camp scholarships each year to qualified Escondido youth through the Escondido Union School District’s expanded learning program.

CCAE Theatricals’ originally planned holiday musical, White Christmas, was canceled this fall so the company could focus its energies on building a firm financial foundation before it launches into its mainstage season in February. Their goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of this year.

A Founders Circle Event was held Oct. 19 at Cheval Winery in Escondido to thank donors who have supported the company since its earliest days in 2020. Still to come is a Big Broadway Bingo fundraiser at 3 p.m. Nov. 19 on the stage of the arts center in Escondido. To get the ball rolling, a donor has already pledged to match up to $25,000 in donations at the bingo event - where singers are asked to perform random songs based on the bingo ball selections.

CCAE Theatricals has established a $1.3 million budget for its first season as an independent nonprofit. Most performances will take place at the Escondido arts center. Future seasons will have a similar structure to that of years past, with a mix of fully staged musicals and plays, smaller cabaret shows and Spotlight concert events. 

Over the past couple of years, CCAE Theatricals had established itself as a company that produces high-quality productions of rarely performed, award-winning musicals featuring directors and performers from around the country. It has also become know for presenting world premieres. In 2022, it premiered the Holocaust diaries-themed musical Witnesses, and this year it premiered Bottle Shock: The Musical. Next year it will present the San Diego premiere of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and a concert performance of the musical Parade. It will also open its 2024-25 season with the La Jolla Playhouse-born Broadway musical Jersey Boys.

The 2023-24 season’s first event already took place, The Piano Men: Billy Joel & Elton John Edition concert held at the center in late August. Here’s the lineup for the rest of the season. 

A Big Band Christmas - A festive 1940s-themed holiday show with singers, swing dancers, D. Ben-jamin’ Big Band Orchestra and a visit from Santa Claus. Dec. 8-10, 2023.

Rising Stars: 12th Annual Showcase - Young theater artists from around the region will perform music from Broadway and the radio charts. Jan. 14, 2024.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - This Tony Award-winning play by Simon Stephens, based on the 2003 novel by British author Mark Haddon, is the story of a teenage boy with special needs investigating the mysterious death of a neighbor’s dog. This will be the play’s San Diego premiere. Feb.17-March 3, 2024.

Motown: The Groove that Changed America - This annual show has become so popular it moves from the smaller Center Theater into the 1,500-seat concert hall in 2024 with a 20-piece orchestra. March 29-30, 2024.

Nashville Nights - This concert will feature performances of country hits from all generations of the genre. April 19-21, 2024.

Piano Women: Carole King, Sara Bareilles & More - Following the all-male Piano Men in August, this concert will feature four female pianists and singers in this debut event. May 24-26, 2024.

Parade in Concert - In collaboration with the Lipinsky Family San Diego Jewish Arts Festival, this heartbreaking Alfred Uhry-Jason Robert Brown musical about the life and death of a Jewish factory owner in 1913 Georgia will be presented in a concert-style performance. June 2024.

Mariah & Whitney - This cabaret show will feature performances of pop and R&B music made famous by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. June 21-22, 2024.

Unnamed musical project - Negotiations are under way to produce another mainstage musical. Details will be announced in the coming weeks. July 12-28, 2024.

The Songs of Stephen Schwartz - This cabaret will spotlight songs by the composer for the musicals Wicked, Godspell, Pippin, Children of Eden and more. Aug. 24-25, 2024.

Michael Jackson: King of Pop - This cabaret will spotlight songs by the top-selling R&B/pop artist. Oct. 12-13, 2024.


More details can be found on the company’s website at


About CCAE Theatricals, Inc:

CCAE Theatricals, Inc. is based in Escondido, California and is driven by a mission to preserve, strengthen, and advance Musical Theater as a social and cultural platform by nurturing compelling, high-caliber theatrical artistry. As both a laboratory for theatrical exploration and a producer of plays that expand the boundaries of theatrical form, we support innovative projects that are aesthetically, thematically, and methodologically diverse for diverse audiences.

The Dorris Staples Theatrical Conservatory was established as a workforce development program for aspiring theater professionals in response to the urgent need for representation within historically elite theater spaces. Thanks to the generosity of the David T. and Dorris E. Staples Foundation and the Conrad Prebys Foundation, the program creates pathways and expands access to careers in theater arts as a means to ensuring the industry belongs to everyone.


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All information is accurate at the time of release but is subject to change.



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