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Lear deBessonet’s what-ifs are becoming “when.”

A couple of years ago, deBessonet, a theater director, began asking San Diegans how they came to live here. The Old Globe commissioned her and composer Todd Almond to create a new musical theater piece to commemorate the San Diego community and the diversity it has developed in the more-than 75 years the Globe has been around. The effort culminates this weekend as a cast of 181 takes the stage Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Globe’s “Odyssey” production — a celebration of the “unexpectedly epic, and sort of amazing” stories people told her of their journey to call San Diego home.

We’ve been following this play as it gets closer, intrigued especially by this intersection between the institution that the Globe is, and the community groups it involved in this process.

We still have the songs in our head from the first rehearsal one of those groups, the St. Stephen’s church choir, came to. You can hear them, too; just watch this Behind the Scene TV episode.

The cast is big even for deBessonet and Almond, who’ve teamed up for this kind of community-infused theater in various cities around the country before. “We might have to start doing stadium shows,” deBessonet joked. (U-T)

Here’s more from deBessonet in an interview with the La Jolla Light:

We imagined this ideal version of “what ifs” — we had the Valhalla High School Percussion Ensemble or 30 children from San Diego Jr. Theatre come running out from the floor, or Culture Shock San Diego to perform, St. Stephen’s Church Choir to sing and be the voice of Athena, or the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory to score a dream ballet of Odysseus’ homecoming?

At one point Todd and I looked at each other like, really? Every outlandish thing we thought of we got, and we’re so happy the groups said yes.

You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.

Surprises, Good and Challenging

• Artwork thought to be long-lost from a Modesto post office building was just hiding in a San Diego shed and will be returned. Another SD connection: The developer buying the now-closed federal building is Peter Janopaul, who turned the historic El Cortez hotel here into condos. (Modesto Bee)

• The foundation managing the arts district in Point Loma got a refund for the city. We reported last week that now it wants that money for its next project to cover unexpected additional construction costs. The city’s budget analysts support the request; if the NTC Foundation’s nearly $1 million gap isn’t covered soon, the rehabilitation project for eight buildings could fall apart.

The request for more than $700,000 on top of the city’s $4 million already committed to the project went to City Council on Tuesday afternoon; we’ll follow the meeting and keep you posted.

• Architecture students at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design came up with ideas for how the “Surfing Madonna” mosaic could be installed in a building or installation in Encinitas. The students had a surprise guest in the audience when they presented their plans: the mosaic’s creator, Mark Patterson. (CityBeat)

• A study pegged participation in the arts in California as dropping 6 percent between 2002 and 2008. (LA Times)

• The San Diego Symphony wants to make sure people know where it plays by installing a giant bass clef sculpture outside. (U-T)

Happening Here:

• In case you didn’t know, there are a ton of local theater and music venues. (North County Times)

• The Carlsbad ArtSplash featured a twist on street art — artists making chalk drawings on the pavement. (Snyder Art and Design blog)

• Anthology, the live music venue in Little Italy, will put on an outdoor concert mini-festival this weekend. (U-T)

• If you’re not such a live-opera purist that you could watch the art form on a movie screen, you can see the country’s “largest and most prestigious opera company,” New York’s Metropolitan Opera, at several local cinemas. Valerie Scher points out the December screening of the Met’s “Faust” will be staged by local favorite Des McAnuff, former artistic chief at the La Jolla Playhouse. (Reader)

A Canadian newspaper takes a long look at McAnuff’s legacy directing the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. (Globe and Mail)

• More than a hundred photographs hang in the “Art of Photography” show up now at the Lyceum Theatre in Horton Plaza. Kinsee Morlan questions the benefits for artists paying to enter a show like this. But the show’s organizers rebut her assertions in a comment under her story. (CityBeat)

• At least 25 museums around Southern California offer free admission on Sunday, Oct. 2, including the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. (LA Times)

• CityBeat’s arts preview issue for fall highlights music at the intersection of classical and cool, art that “subtly blows your mind,” a festival of underground literature, how to learn about modern local architecture, a new Indian dance company and a roundup of local film festivals.

• It was a huge weekend for art in San Diego. KPBS’s weekend confab discussed Trolley Dances, a new show at Quint Contemporary Art coinciding with the new big show at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and famed drummer Sheila E.

This weekend’s Carlsbad Music Festival attracted praise from music critic Mark Swed: The festival is “a new music pipsqueak that is making a significant statement,” Swed wrote. (LAT)

I wrapped up a bunch of this weekend’s events in this post and asked for your input: What did you do/make/see/rehearse this weekend?

Leave us a comment here or on Facebook.

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Kelly Bennett is the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach her directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531. Or you can keep up with her on Twitter @kellyrbennett or on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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