Created from actual interviews with citizens of Colorado Springs, the capital of the Evangelical movement, this timely musical explores faith, and the organized resistance against Gay rights. Traversing a scandal that rocked the core of the religious right, This Beautiful City illuminates a cross section of a community poised at the volatile intersection of church and state. Diversionary’s rare revival of this authentic, often humorous exposé of a nation divided honors the late Michael Friedman’s (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) extraordinary contributions to American theatre.
The Civilians is the center for investigative theater led by Artistic Director Steve Cosson, supporting the development and production of new theater from creative inquiries into the most vital questions of the present. Since its founding in 2001, The Civilians has supported the creation of thirteen original shows produced at numerous theaters in New York and across the country. Works by the company have toured extensively to arts presenters and festivals with presentations in over forty cities nationally and internationally. The Civilians received an Obie in 2004 and the company’s work has been included in top ten lists in the “New York Times,” “The New Yorker,” and “Time Out New York.” The Civilians expands the scope of American theater and champions innovation by tackling complex and under-explored subjects. The company provides a home for a multidisciplinary group of artists and partners with regional theater and arts presenters in New York, nationally, and internationally.
Composer Michael Friedman passed away Fall 2017 from complications related to HIV/AIDS. He was only 41. Taken far too early, this production honors him. Michael was a founding Associate Artist of The Civilians, and has been the composer/lyricist for the company’s THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY, [I AM] NOBODY’S LUNCH, GONE MISSING, and CANARD, CANARD, GOOSE? He also wrote music and lyrics for SAVED, BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON, THE BRAND NEW KID, GOD’S EAR, THE BLUE DEMON, and ALICE IN WONDERLAND. With Steve Cosson, he co-authored PARIS COMMUNE. He also scored the ballet LOVE STORIES for New York City Ballet’s Benjamin Millepied. His music has been heard at the New York Shakespeare Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, The Roundabout Theatre Co., Second Stage, Soho Rep, Theater for a New Audience, Signature, and The Acting Company. Regionally Friedman has written music for such companies as Hartford Stage, Humana Festival, A.R.T., Berkeley Rep, Dallas Theatre Center, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Portland Center Stage. Friedman’s compositions have also been performed internationally in productions at London’s Soho and Gate Theatres, and the Edinburgh Festival. Film/TV work includes “On Common Ground,” “Beloved,” “Emile Norman: By His Own Design,” “Floaters,” and “Affair Game.” He was also the dramaturg for the Broadway revival of A RAISIN IN THE SUN, directed by Kenny Leon. He was an Artistic Associate at New York Theatre Workshop, a Princeton University Hodder Fellow, and a recipient of a MacDowell fellowship. He received a 2007 Obie Award for sustained excellence.
*Denotes member of Actor’s Equity Association
Matt M. Morrow (Director, Executive Artistic Director) Since joining Diversionary, Matt has directed the World Premiere of Gordon Leary and Julia Meinwald’s musical The Loneliest Girl in the World, Georgette Kelly’s Ballast (Winner, 2017 Best New Play, San Diego Critic’s Circle Awards), the San Diego Premiere of Bash Doran’s The Mystery of Love and Sex, the West Coast Premieres of Jordan Harrison’s Amazons and Their Men,and Christopher Shinn’s Now Or Later. Matt recently directed Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine with The Old Globe/USD MFA program. Prior to joining Diversionary Theatre, Matt was the Associate Artistic Director of City Theatre Company, a LORT theatre in Pittsburgh dedicated to producing work written in the past five years. With City he directed the Regional Premiere of Jessica Dickey’s Charles Ives Take Me Home, the World Premiere of Tami Dixon’s South Side Stories (Pittsburgh Post Gazette & Tribune Review’s Top Ten of 2012), and Kim Rosenstock’s Tigers Be Still.
Matt is currently a Creative Catalyst Fellow with The San Diego Foundation and La Jolla Playhouse. He has developed new work with The Sundance Theatre Institute, The Old Globe, The Banff Centre, Center Theatre Group, American Conservatory Theater, Lincoln Center, PlayPenn, and Page 73 Productions in residence at the Yale School of Drama. He served as The John Wells Professor of Directing at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama (Graduate & Undergraduate Directing programs), and is a member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab. He holds a BFA in Directing from Carnegie Mellon University. www.mattmmorrow.com
Tony Houck (Man 2 & Music Director) is reveling at returning to Diversionary. Diversionary: Marry Me A Little; Thrill Me; Bare: a pop opera(Critic’s Circle Nom). Elsewhere: Legally Blonde; The Secret Garden; The Buddy Holly Story; 1940’s Radio Hour; Oklahoma(New Village Arts); The Test(SD Fringe festival winner for Best Musical); Bring It On(SDMT). Tony is also an accomplished pianist and has played for In The Heights(Southwestern College); Big River, Sylvia(New Village Arts); Lady Day at Emmerson’s Bar and Grill, (ion Theatre); Altar Boyz (diversionary). He also played for B Squared starring Broadway’s Brad Bradley; and the Human Dignity Gala featuring Seth Rudetsky and Andrea Martin. Tony is a graduate of AMDA. He also plays trumpet and french horn. He plays for many auditions around town and does vocal coaching for many of San Diego’s local artists as well as being a teaching artist at San Diego Junior Theatre. He has also been on stage in some Diversionary favorites like YANK!, Scrooge in Rouge(Craig Noel Award); Harmony, Kansas; and Twist, just to name a few.
Justin Humphres (Scenic Design) is a scenic and video designer based in San Diego, CA. His design work has been seen internationally in both the United States and Asia. As a video designer, he has created content for numerous concert tours, corporate events and Las Vegas shows. As an assistant/associate he has worked with Robert Brill, John Lee Beatty and others on various commercial, regional and Broadway projects. Recent San Diego scenic design credits include: “Actually” (San Diego Rep), “Vietgone” (San Diego Rep), and “Voyeurs de Venus” (Moxie). Broadway credits include: “SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical” (Associate Designer), “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” (Associate Designer). Justin holds a BFA from Western Michigan University and an MFA from University of California, San Diego. www.justinhumphres.com
Elisa Benzoni (Costume Designer) is thrilled to be working again with Diversionary Theatre. Select credits include: The Loneliest Girl in the World, The Happiest Place on Earth, Homos or Everyone in America, Ballast, Mystery of Love and Sex (Diversionary Theatre), Sex with Strangers (Geffen Playhouse), The Who and The What, Our Town; Tall Girls; Brahaman/I; Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir (La Jolla Playhouse); Constellations (Old Globe); Cloud 9, Romeo and Juliet, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, Reckless,Much Ado About Nothing and Measure for Measure (USD/Old Globe); The Father, How the Other Half Loves, Of Mice and Men, Travels with my Aunt, The Illusion, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, The Cocktail Hour, Fox on the Fairway (Nominated for a Craig Noel Award), Chapatti, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Great Nome Gold Rush (North Coast Repertory Theatre); Men on Boats, Secret Garden, Awake and Sing, Sylvia (New Village Arts); Elisa holds a costume design MFA from UCSD. www.elisabenzoni.com
Curtis Mueller (Lighting Designer) returns to Diversionary having designed Bull in a China Shop, The Happiest Place on Earth, Cardboard Piano, Homos, Well, 2.5 Minute Ride, Lizard Boy, Manhandled, Now or Later, A Civil War Christmas, Amazons and Their Men, Man Clan, and A New Brain. Select local credits include: Withering Heights, Margin of Error (Roustabouts Theatre Company); End of The Rainbow, Quality of Life, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, I Hate Hamlet, All My Sons, Macbeth (Intrepid Theatre Company); Big River, The 1940s Radio Hour, Seascape (New Village Arts); Chess in concert, Next to Normal, Spring Awakening (Cabaret at the Merc Summer Series). Curtis has also worked extensively with Coronado School of The Arts. Curtis holds a BFA in Lighting Design from California Institute of The Arts.
Matt Lescault-Wood (Sound Design) is excited to be back at Diversionary. Previous credits include; Lizard Boy; The Moors, The Loneliest Girl Alive (Diversionary); Eurydice [2010 San Diego Critics Circle Nominee], Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Hickorydickory, ENRON, Eternally Bad, The Kid Thing, Bliss, Voyeurs de Venus (Moxie); Sweeney Todd, Cabaret, Little Shop of Horrors, A Behanding In Spokane, Man of La Mancha, Assassins, Company, Spring Awakening, Pageant, True West, Fool For Love, Sons of the Prophet, My Fair Lady, Shockheaded Peter, Spamalot (Cygnet); Evita, Roz and Ray [2017 San Diego Critics Circle Nominee], Hand To God; Black Pearl Sings, Beachtown, Fun Home (San Diego REP); Seascape, Stage Kiss, Lord of The Flies, Big River (New Village Arts); Henry V [2014 San Diego Critics Circle Nominee] (New Fortune). Matt has a Degree in Theatrical Design and Technology from SDSU.
Blake McCarty (Projections Designer) is an artist and educator, as well as the founder of Blindspot Collective, a theatre company devoted to transformative new work at the intersection of advocacy, education, and entertainment. He is thrilled to be making his Diversionary Theatre debut. Elsewhere as a designer: Spamalot, On the Twentieth Century, and The Rocky Horror Show (Cygnet); Evita and Beachtown (San Diego Rep); Shadowlands, American Rhythm, and Oz (Lamb’s Players); Cloud Tectonics, Buddy, and Return to Forbidden Planet (New Village Arts); and Sunday in the Park with George (Ion). Upcoming projects: Qulili, a documentary play about refugees based on the exact words of real people; Chasing Fear, a musical based on Turkish folklore with composer Trevor Bachman; a new play in the style of Boal’s Forum Theatre exploring the lives of non-binary and gender non-conforming youth that will tour to local schools later this year; and Angels in America with Cygnet. In addition to his work as a director and designer, Blake has developed educational programming for organizations that include The Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, The New Victory Theatre, Tribeca Film Festival, and Guggenheim Museum. He holds a BFA in Film Production and an MA in Educational Theatre, both from New York University.
Taylor Todd (Stage Manager) is so happy to be stage managing at Diversionary this season! Some of her stage management credits include Bull in a China Shop, Mystery of Love and Sex (Diversionary); Bachelorette, Tarrytown, Gutenberg! The Musical! (Backyard Renaissance); Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2, & 3, Perfect Arrangement, ART, Woody Guthrie’s American Song, End of the Rainbow (Intrepid); Final Draft New Play Festival (New Village Arts); Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Co-production with Intrepid & New Village Arts); The Seagull (Old Globe/University of San Diego MFA); and Anton’s Shorts; Three Brief Comedies by Chekhov (University of San Diego). Credits as an assistant stage manager include Cardboard Piano (Diversionary); Parlour Song (Backyard Renaissance); Oliver! (Cabrillo Stage, Santa Cruz); and Anatomy of Gray (University of San Diego). Taylor graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies.
I’m thrilled to debut the work of The Civilians on the Diversionary stage. Our 10th Anniversary revival of this rarely seen musical is the first professional production since its original. With religious freedom laws sweeping the country, I expect this piece will take on a renewed urgency as we hone in on what it means to have faith and how a community organizes on both sides of the political spectrum. Featuring a stunning score by the late and great Michael Friedman riffing on Christian rock, this profound and often humorous musical takes an even-handed look at what divides us, and what brings us together.
The first two weeks of early preview performances are not rehearsals — they are your chance to get a sneak peek of the show as the creative team puts their finishing touch on the play, and to see a great performance at a fantastic price.
Friday, November 9th
To say thank you to those that serve, Diversionary offers complimentary tickets. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Saturday, November 17th
Pre and post-show festivities – celebrate with the cast and company! The party starts at 7pm before the 8pm performance.