'Sideways The Play' makes San Diego debut at La Jolla Playhouse

Play based on Rex Pickett's novel

SAN DIEGO - Almost a year ago to the day, 10News Anchor Steve Atkinson sat down with San Diego native Rex Pickett to talk about Pickett's play "Sideways," which is based on his novel by the same name and also turned into an Academy Award-winning film.
The play was about to open at a small Los Angeles theatre, and at the time, Pickett said his dream would be to bring "Sideways The Play" to the prestigious La Jolla Playhouse at UCSD, where he attended college.

It looks like dreams do come true, because our favorite Merlot-hating sad sack Miles and his troublesome friend Jack are back, with the "Sideways The Play" debuting July 16 in La Jolla.

"I kind of liken it to going from sandlot ball to Yankee Stadium in one transfer," said Pickett, beaming in the front lobby of the La Jolla Playhouse.

10News was given a behind-the-scenes look at rehearsals and discovered why Pickett was so determined to bring "Sideways" to La Jolla. It's not just because of the history of the La Jolla Playhouse -- Pickett wanted someone in particular to direct his play.

"I can't wait let's do it," yelled director Des McAnuff to his cast and crew during a recent rehearsal.

Pickett emailed McAnuff late last summer on a whim hoping McAnuff would read his play and that the Director Emeritus would buy into it.

He did.

"What was it that attracted you to 'Sideways'?" asked Atkinson.

"Well, I like wine," responded McAnuff with a hearty laugh.

The La Jolla Playhouse has launched 24 original productions to Broadway. McAnuff is responsible for three of the most successful -- directing "Big River," The Who's "Tommy" and "Jersey Boys." All had major runs on Broadway, but it's far too early to talk about that for "Sideways."

"They're very superstitious in the theatre world," said Pickett. "They don't like to say the 'B' word or anything like that."

But if ticket sales are any indication, "Sideways" will have a very successful run in La Jolla. There has been so much demand that "Sideways" was extended from one month to six weeks. Not bad for a play that hasn't even made its debut.

"I can't remember extending a play here before we started performances," said McAnuff, trying to think back over his 30-year career at the La Jolla Playhouse. "I don't believe that we've done that before, even with the musicals."

And for you cult followers still wishing for a sequel to "Sideways" on the big screen with Pickett's award-winning follow-up novel called "Vertical," well, don't hold your breath.

"It would be one of the biggest no-brainers in Hollywood, but I don't control it. Alexander Payne and FOX Searchlight control it," said Pickett shaking his head. "He has said to me, quote/unquote, 'Doing a sequel is selling out.'"

As for the play at La Jolla, tickets are still available. Get them while they last, as they are going fast.

Ticket information is at http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/sideways

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