La Jolla Playhouse

Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center at La Jolla Playhouse
Courtesy of La Jolla Playhouse

You might not think of looking for world-class theater performances in the tiny town of La Jolla near San Diego. That is unless you're a knowledgeable theatergoer who really knows their stuff. 

If you're not that knowledgeable patron of the arts, the La Jolla Playhouse is still a great place to go when you visit the San Diego area. If you've never experienced live theater before, the playhouse is a good place to expand your horizons, with a good chance of seeing something you will enjoy.

The La Jolla Playhouse has a long tradition of innovative productions of old classics and even more for nurturing new works. If you want bragging rights with your friends, saying: "Oh yes, I saw that and knew it was bound to be a hit," La Jolla Playhouse is the place to go.

Critical Acclaim

Over their history, the La Jolla Playhouse has created many productions that have transferred to Broadway, earning almost 40 Tony Awards. They include "Diana," "Escape to Margaritaville," "Latin History for Morons," "Jersey Boys," and "The Who's Tommy." Six of those won Tony Awards, and one garnered a Pulitzer Prize.

In 1993, the Playhouse won its own Tony, for regional theater.

What You Need to Know

Some TripAdvisor reviews say: "Performances are consistently outstanding, and the collection of shows is always very diverse and at times unique." and "It's Broadway by the Beach."

Their season runs from April through early December, and you can get more details at the La Jolla Playhouse website.

La Jolla Playhouse performs on four stages, all of them located on the edge of the University of California at San Diego campus. See more information about each one below under Seating.

Performances tend to sell out, but the theaters are roomy, and there's plenty of space around to accommodate all the people, so it doesn't feel crowded.

La Jolla Playhouse Tips

There's a small parking lot on the campus that provides a golf cart shuttle if you need assistance getting from the lot to the theater. Getting parked is more complicated than it sounds and you should read the parking tips on the Playhouse website before you go.

Only one restaurant is within walking distance of the theater, but it's a cut above the places you might find near other theaters. Get information about the on-site restaurant here.

La Jolla Playhouse Seating

The La Jolla Playhouse performs in four venues:

  • Mandell Weiss Theatre: The largest theater at La Jolla Playhouse has 492 seats and a proscenium arch stage — that's a traditional stage with an open front wall.
  • Mandell Weiss Forum: Designed by award-winning architect Antoine Predock, the forum has 400 seats and thrust stage where the audience sits around it on three sides.
  • Theodore and Adele Shank Theatre: A 98-seat theater adjacent to the Mandell Weiss Forum.
  • Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre: A black box, a flexible theater that seats up to 450 people. The name "black box" comes from the fact that many theaters of its type (which are mostly used for experimental works) are painted black and could be located anywhere.

La Jolla Playhouse Tickets and Reservations

Ticket prices at La Jolla Playhouse vary, depending on the show and performance date. Previews and weekday nights are least expensive. Find out about all the discounts they offer, including 30 and Under, military and student discounts.

Goldstar also sometimes offers discounted tickets to the theater, along with other things going on in San Diego. Find out how it works.

To avoid disappointment for popular shows, buy your tickets early online, by phone at 858-550-1010, or at the box office.

How to Get to La Jolla Playhouse

The Playhouse is at 2910 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla (on the UCSD campus).

You'll find driving directions at the La Jolla Playhouse website.