Dec. 8 2010 10:28 AM

Sandra Ellis-Troy and the rest of this week's theater

Sandra Ellis-Troy played Petruchia in Intrepid Shakespeare Company's The Taming of the Shrew last May.
Photo by Daren Scott

Sandra Ellis-Troy didn't turn professional actor until her late 40s—an achievement in itself, because theater is generally thought of as a lifelong pursuit. That was nothing compared with what she had in store for area audiences for the next 20 years, taking on a remarkable string of characters that would come to mirror her life.

Ellis-Troy, 68, died suddenly on Saturday, Dec. 4, while visiting relatives in Pleasanton, Calif. The Vista performer and voice-over artist was known for her outstanding portrayals of tough-talking, impulsive women whose life experiences were as wide-ranging as hers (in her pre-theater days, she'd been a children's textbook illustrator, a co-founder of a golf company, a radio talk-show host and a Carlsbad restaurateur).

The native of Joplin, Mo., moved to California in 1968 by way of Stillwater, Okla., where she studied dance and drama at Oklahoma State University. She made homes in Pleasanton and Fremont before moving to Vista around 1990. She was an administrative assistant at Vista's Moonlight Stage Productions and a resident, ensemble and guest artist at several area theaters, including San Diego's Cygnet Theatre Company and Carlsbad's New Village Arts. She was the recipient of more than 16 area theater awards. Her final performance on a San Diego stage was last May, when she played Petruchia in Intrepid Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew; she was also Aunt Eller in Moonlight's production of Oklahoma! last summer.

Moonlight, at 1200 Vale Terrace Drive in Vista, has scheduled a tribute to Ellis-Troy for 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13.

I'd never met Ellis-Troy, but I'd seen her plenty of times at parties and after performances. The irony is that I wouldn't even have to look her way to know she was in the room— the strength and vibrancy behind the voice was evidence enough. Ellis-Troy was filled with a lust to the game of life, and San Diego theater will acutely feel her loss for many seasons to come.

Kid power

When you ask Santa for a doll and get a truck, a letter of redress is certainly in order. But this isn't just any letter—it's from Gary, a gay little kid whose complaint will lead to a firestorm and force The Fat One out of the closet. Santa Claus is Coming Out, Diversionary Theatre's 2010 holiday entry, is crazy with the stereotypes who rise up as Santa declares his love for an Italian toymaker, like a homophobic head elf who calls his boss “a prancer” and a self-styled Anita Bryant-type bent on saving the children of America from themselves.

Writer-performer Jeffrey Solomon's biggest asset is his voice—it switches from character to character on a second's notice, and its affectations (including that of Santa's Jewish agent Sidney Green) are usually spot-on. The only truly sympathetic character here, though, is Rudolph, of red-nosed-reindeer fame; it would've been nice if Solomon had struck more balance with a less fantastical ally for Gary, like a clergyman or an uncle. But Solomon's message about social equality is a welcome change from the hoopla that sometimes overtakes the season's stages. And his piece has drawn umbrage from Bill O'Reilly and Focus on the Family, which only illustrates its effectiveness (hee-hee).

Through Dec. 19 at Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd. in University Heights. $31-$33.


Nevermore… An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe: This one-man nod to the great poet chronicles his descent into madness. Opens Dec. 9 at North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987-D Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach. $15-$20.

A Taffeta Christmas: Kaye, Peggy, Cheryl and Donna Taffeta recall Christmases past in this musical tribute to the girl groups of the 1950s. Featuring performers from the Pickwick Players, it opens Dec. 10 at the Rolando Theatre, 6663 El Cajon Blvd. in the College Area. $17- $20.

Now Playing

Deathtrap: How far will somebody go to pass off a hit play as his own? Produced by Scripps Ranch Theatre, it runs through Dec. 11 at the Legler Benbough Theatre at Alliant international University in Scripps Ranch. $10-$22.

Deathtrap: How far will somebody go to pass off a hit play as his own? Produced by Scripps Ranch Theatre, it runs through Dec. 11 at the Legler Benbough Theatre on the campus of Alliant international University in Scripps Ranch. $10-$22.

Shotgun Wedding Anniversary: What happens after 25 years in a less-than-blissful marriage? For Basil and Petals, it can mean murder. Through Dec. 24 at Mystery Cafe, in the Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. $59.50, including dinner.

13, A New Musical: The school's star quarterback is threatening to ruin 13-year-old Evan's life; his only friend, Patrice, won't talk to him; plus, the least popular kid in school sees an opportunity for blackmail—what else could go wrong? Produced by JΗCompany, it runs through Dec. 12 at the Dorothea Garfield Theatre in University City. $16.

Steel Magnolias: Three friends come together at a small-town Louisiana beauty parlor, declaring there's no such thing as natural beauty. Produced by Point Loma Actors, it runs through Dec. 12 at Point Loma Assembly. $14-$16.

* Storyville: Jazz trumpeter Butch “Cobra” Brown and budding singer Tigré Savoy might become a couple, but the political machine in the New Orleans of 1917 has other plans. Produced by San Diego Repertory Theatre, it runs through Dec. 12 at The Lyceum Stage, 79 Horton Plaza, Downtown. $39-$53.

Black Nativity: The birth of Jesus is retold in an African-American setting. Produced by Common Ground Theatre, it runs through Dec. 19 at the Educational Cultural Complex in Mountain View. $10-$30.

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells!: How can Junie B. enjoy the festivities when Tattletale May keeps ruining her holiday glee? Produced by San Diego Junior Theatre, it runs through Dec. 19 at the La Jolla YMCA Firehouse Theatre in La Jolla. $11-$14.

The Santaland Diaries: Crumpet the Elf encounters the insane world of retail shopping during the holiday season. Through Dec. 19 at New Village Arts theatre in Carlsbad. $20.

* miXtape: The music of Generation X was just getting started in the explosive 1980s. Produced by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through Dec. 19 at The Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. $28-$58.

Ruined: A Congolese entrepreneur runs a canteen where soldiers can meet up with women (for a price) as war looms. Through Dec. 19 at the Mandell Weiss Theatre in La Jolla. $31-$66.

You Better Watch Out!: Only Andy, the Willow Inn's handyman, sees Mr. Smith for what he is—the spirit of Christmas. Through Dec. 19 at Poway Performing Arts Center in Poway. $10-$15.

Shotgun Wedding Anniversary: What happens after 25 years in a less-than-blissful marriage? For Basil and Petals, it can mean murder. Through Dec. 24 at Mystery Cafe, in the Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. $59.50, including dinner.

* Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: The asshole is at it again this year, making life miserable for the residents of Whoville until the spirit of the season hits him. Through Dec. 26 at The Old Globe Theatre mainstage in Balboa Park. $20-$77.

Plaid Tidings: This is a holiday treatment of Forever Plaid, wherein a quartet with aspirations of stardom is killed before they get a chance to prove themselves on Earth. Produced by The Old Globe Theatre, it runs through Dec. 26 at the Globe's Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in Balboa Park. $33-$67.

* It's Christmas and it's Live: A singing quartet is set to audition for a TV show when a blizzard shuts down New York in the 1950s. Produced by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through Dec. 29 at the Ione and Paul Harter Stage in Coronado.

* It's a Wonderful Life: The classic Christmas movie featuring George Bailey and Clarence the Angel is mounted as a radio play. Produced by Cygnet Theatre Company, it runs through Dec. 31 at the Old Town Theatre. $24-$49.


  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28