Photo by Jim Cox
The rocket boys send one skyward in October Sky.
October Sky is emblematic of wholesome dreams and can-do spirit. Every turn in the story is one you see coming, as is each allusion to reaching for the stars, but this West Coast-premiere musical is sincere and beautifully mounted. The Old Globe production is inspired by the 1999 movie October Sky and the book Rocket Boys. This show is directed by Rachel Rockwell on a grand scale (and on a spectacular set by Kevin Depinet), with a book by Brian Hill and Aaron Thielen. Michael Mahler’s score is equally prodigious, and while both ballad- and metaphor-heavy, frequently as soaring as the homemade rockets high schooler Homer Hickham (Kyle Selig) and his three pals launch skyward.
The boys (Selig, Patrick Rooney, Austyn Myers and Connor Russell) are the most fun to watch, their combined energy in itself rocket fuel. The adult characters— the emotionally constipated father, the wise mother, the mentoring high school teacher—provide familiar drama, but Selig’s superbly played Homer feeds off each as he strives and grows inside. October Sky’s climactic National Science Fair competition isn’t exactly Rocky vs. Apollo Creed, but with this show’s eye-popping rocket launches, who needs blood and sweat? You may get tears, but of the feel-good variety.
October Sky runs through Oct. 23 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. $37 and up. oldglobe.org
Let’s assume that San Diego Rep Playwright in Residence Herbert Siguenza set out to make a political statement about immigration wrapped in a wacky comedy. Good, because Siguenza’s Manifest Destinitis, directed by Sam Woodhouse and having its world premiere at the Rep, is best when it’s in political mode, even though the commentary can be obvious (The Donald, The Wall, Hillary’s pantsuits, etc.). When Manifest Destinitis relies more on being an adaptation of Moliere’s farcical The Imaginary Invalid, it’s just as broad and inconsequential as its 17th-century inspiration. But there’s no denying this production has a couple of rousing performances, chiefly Siguenza himself, in drag, as maid to the hypochondriacal Don Aragon (Mark Pinter, amusingly ornery). Every moment Siguenza’s Tonia is on stage, even those reduced to slapstick, is a howling delight.
Manifest Destinitis runs through Oct. 9 at the San Diego Repertory Theatre, downtown. $35-$62. sdrep.org
ART: Yasmina Reza’s Tony-winning comedy about three pals whose friendship is tested when one buys an expensive piece of modern art. Presented by Intrepid Theatre Company, it opens Sept. 29 at the Horton Grand Theatre in the Gaslamp. intrepidtheatre.org
King Hedley II: A man recently released from prison struggles to reclaim his life, family and community. Written by August Wilson and presented by Cygnet Theatre, it opens Sept. 29 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
The Lion: Benjamin Scheuer’s acclaimed one-man-show rock ‘n’ roll musical about his life. Directed by Sean Daniels, it opens Sept. 29 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Lizard Boy: A disfigured gay boy, who had always been afraid to be seen in public, sets out on a rock ‘n’ roll musical adventure with help from his new Grindr friend Cary. Written by Justin Huertas, it opens Sept. 29 at the Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest. diversionary.org
Blood at the Root: Racial tensions in a small Louisiana town boil over in Dominique Morisseau’s poetry and hip-hop-infused play. Directed by Randy Reinholtz, it opens Sept. 30 at the SDSU Experimental Theatre in the College Area.
The Addams Family : A new musical comedy based on the creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky, but otherwise beloved family. Directed by James Vásquez, it runs through Oct. 1 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. moonlightstage.com
Amelia Lives and The Last Flapper : Two plays about historical women Amelia Earhart and Zelda Fitzgerald. Part of the Women’s History Theatre Festival from the American History Theatre company, it happens on Oct. 1 and 2 at the Women’s Museum of California in Point Loma. womensmuseumca.org
The Cocktail Hour : An affluent New England family’s reunion is hilariously shaken up when one of the sons reveals he’s written a script that hits a little too close to home. Directed by Rosina Reynolds, it runs through Oct. 2 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
Duck Hunter Shoots Angel : A tabloid journalist has a catharsis while investigating two Alabama hunters who accidentally shoot an angel. Written by Mitch Albom, it runs through Oct. 2 at Lamplighter’s Community Theatre in La Mesa.
The Lion King : Hakuna matata…Need we say more? Presented by Broadway San Diego, it runs through Oct. 2 at the San Diego Civic Theatre in the Gaslamp. broadwaysd.com
Tiger Style! : A new comedy about two overachieving siblings who set out to visit China in hopes of becoming better adults. Written by Mike Lew, it runs through Oct. 2 at the La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
Manifest Destinitis : Set in 1800’s Alta California, this world-premiere satire is about a crazed Don Aragon, who’s trying to marry off his daughter, but little does he know she’s in love with (gasp!) a guapo Americano . Written by Herbert Siguenza, it runs through Oct. 9 at the Lyceum Space in the Gaslamp. sdrep.org
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike : This Tony Award-winner for “Best Play” tells the tale of two small-town siblings whose world is thrown into upheaval when they get a visit from their movie star sister and her much younger boyfriend. Written by Christopher Durang, it runs through Oct. 9 at the Scripps Ranch Theatre. scrippsranchtheatre.org
Seussical the Musical : A family-friendly musical where all of the characters of Dr. Seuss share the stage at the same time. Directed by Desha Crownover, it runs through Oct. 9 at the Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
Dangerous Obsession : A disturbed man obsessed with the death of his wife terrorizes a married couple. Directed by Jay Mower, it runs through Oct. 16 at PowPAC Community Theatre in Escondido. powpac.org
October Sky : Adapted from the popular 1999 film, this new musical set in ‘50s West Virginia tells the story of a high schooler who’s hell bent on building his own space rocket. Featuring music by Michael Mahler, it runs through Oct. 23 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Seven Guitars : Set in ’40s Pittsburgh, this comical mystery centers on a blues guitarist who dies just as his career is about to take off. Written by August Wilson and presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through Nov. 6 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com