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Cabrillo Playhouse

The Cabrillo Playhouse (established in 1966) came from humble beginnings as the San Clemente Community Theatre originally established in 1953. Each year for over half a century we have worked hard to continue our rich tradition of being a significant cultural asset to South Orange County by providing an outlet for creative community involvement as we endeavor to enrich, educate, excite and entertain artists and audiences through a variety of performing arts in an intimate setting.

We learned more about this long-standing theatre in Southern California from Cabrillo Playhouse's Artistic Director, Michael Lopez.

You have regularly scheduled Special Events, beyond your regular theatre season. I think many community theatres who have their own space have discovered the benefit in incorporating Special Events to fill dark nights/weekends in their seasons. How does Cabrillo Playhouse program these Special Events (do the outside groups come to you, or vice versa) and what do you think is key to the success of them?

We schedule our Special Events by both seeking them out and receiving requests. Sometimes we produce the events, sometimes it’s a rental. The key to our success with our events is that we make sure they are geared towards our specific audience and family friendly.

How are your seasons selected?

We have a play selection committee comprised of board members who research and make recommendations, a season is proposed by the Artistic Director, and is voted upon by the board of directors.

You currently offer 'Mid Season Subscriptions,' providing an affordable way to purchase a season subscription half way through your season. This could also be a good opportunity for new patrons who discover your theatre mid-year. Do you find having this flexible option helps you sell more tickets overall?

Definitely! During the sold out success of our season opening show, we saw a lot of new audience members and decided to offer our mid season tickets. It was very successful.

It looks like Cabrillo Playhouse is a volunteer-run theatre; is that correct? Do you have committee or teams of volunteers who handle operational duties, or production/performance duties?

We are successful because of our volunteers. Every board member is involved with some type of operational duty, whether its play selection, gathering props, or acting as a dresser for one of our actors.

Is there a play or performance done by Cabrillo Playhouse you are particularly proud of, or that stands out in your time involved at the theatre?

We are very proud of our production of Man of La Mancha. We did this on a very small stage with a cast of 12 people. This I the show that helped increase our season subscribers by 45%.

Describe your audience - visitors, locals, etc?

Our audience had been comprised of mostly locals, seniors, who are retired, but this season we have seen a growth in our younger audience.

How do you get to know your audience on a personal level?

There is almost always a board member or volunteer at each performance who interacts with our audience.

What kind of support do you have from your community for your community theatre?

We get a lot of coverage from our local newspapers, grants from local banks, and donations from local businesses.

Have you worked with or been involved with any other California community theatre?

Yes, I have been involved with many theatres in and around Orange County.

What do you think 'makes' community theatre community theatre?

“Community theatre” tends to be comprised of people who are doing it for love and wanting to be involved. There is seldom pay involved, so very few “professionals” who only do it for the money.

Are you a California native?


A very special thanks to Michael Lopez

The Cabrillo Playhouse in beautiful San Clemente California | Phone: 949-492-0465 | email: 202 Avenida Cabrillo • San Clemente, CA 92672

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