Best of OC

Best Of 2012


  • + Aliso Viejo
  • + Anaheim
  • + Arcadia
  • + Avalon
  • + Azuza
  • + Bakersfield
  • + Balboa
  • + Bellflower
  • + Beverly Hills
  • + Brea
  • + Buena Park
  • + Burbank
  • + Cabazon
  • + Capistrano Beach
  • + Carlsbad
  • + Carson
  • + Cerritos
  • + Chatsworth
  • + Chino Hills
  • + Claremont
  • + Colton
  • + Corona
  • + Corona Del Mar
  • + Costa Mesa
  • + Coto de Caza
  • + Covina
  • + Culver City
  • + Cypress
  • + Dana Point
  • + Diamond Bar
  • + Downey
  • + El Segundo
  • + Encino
  • + Escondido
  • + Fallbrook
  • + Fontana
  • + Foothill Ranch
  • + Fountain Valley
  • + Fresno
  • + Fullerton
  • + Garden Grove
  • + Gardena
  • + Glendale
  • + Granada Hills
  • + Hawaiian Gardens
  • + Hermosa Beach
  • + Highland
  • + Huntington Beach
  • + Indio
  • + Irvine
  • + Julian
  • + La Canada Flintridge
  • + La Habra
  • + La Jolla
  • + La Mirada
  • + La Palma
  • + Ladera Ranch
  • + Laguna Beach
  • + Laguna Hills
  • + Laguna Niguel
  • + Lake Forest
  • + Lakewood
  • + Las Vegas
  • + Lawndale
  • + Lomita
  • + Long Beach
  • + Los Alamitos
  • + Los Angeles
  • + Malibu
  • + Manhattan Beach
  • + Marina Del Rey
  • + Maywood
  • + Midway City
  • + Mission Viejo
  • + Montclair
  • + Mountain Center
  • + Mt Baldy
  • + Newport Beach
  • + North Hollywood
  • + Northridge
  • + Norwalk
  • + Oceanside
  • + Orange
  • + Out of Town
  • + Palos Verdes Peninsula
  • + Panorama City
  • + Paramount
  • + Pasadena
  • + Pioneertown
  • + Placentia
  • + Pomona
  • + Portola Hills
  • + Rancho Cucamonga
  • + Rancho Palos Verdes
  • + Rancho Santa Margarita
  • + Redlands
  • + Redondo Beach
  • + Riverside
  • + Rossmoor
  • + Rowland Heights
  • + San Bernardino
  • + San Clemente
  • + San Diego
  • + San Francisco
  • + San Juan Capistrano
  • + San Marino
  • + San Pedro
  • + Santa Ana
  • + Santa Monica
  • + Seal Beach
  • + Sherman Oaks
  • + Sierra Madre
  • + Signal Hill
  • + Silverado
  • + Solana Beach
  • + South El Monte
  • + South Gate
  • + South Pasadena
  • + Stanton
  • + Studio City
  • + Sunset Beach
  • + Temecula
  • + Torrance
  • + Trabuco Canyon
  • + Tustin
  • + Twentynine Palms
  • + Universal City
  • + Unknown
  • + Venice
  • + Villa Park
  • + Westminster
  • + Whittier
  • + Wilmington
  • + Woodland Hills
  • + Yorba Linda
Map It

Arts & Entertainment

Bars & Clubs

Food & Drink

People & Places

Shopping & Services

Readers' Choice


Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Community Theater That Doesn't Feel Like Community Theater
Long Beach Playhouse

While other community theaters are programming the umpteenth production of The Odd Couple, there's one that's aiming a little higher. Composed of two theaters, the bowling alley-long Mainstage downstairs and the more adventurous Equity-waiver Studio upstairs, both houses of the Long Beach Playhouse have taken more chances in their programming under the leadership of producing artistic director Andrew Vonderschmitt. While the 200-seat Mainstage still aims to please the bluehairs with musicals and established classics such as Into the Woods, The Glass Menagerie and To Kill a Mockingbird, it also slips in the occasional surprise, such as Rolin Jones' The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow. Upstairs, you'll find even riskier fare, with playwrights as diverse as Euripides, Thomas Middleton, Jose Rivera, David Mamet, Eric Overmyer and Christopher Durang, making for a consistently button-pushing season. Cheers to Vonderschmitt and staff—who have all met with some push-back from the theater's entrenched patrons—and here's hoping for even riskier choices in the future, as well as the new, more youthful audiences who deserve them.

5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, 90804
Best Actor

It's often said that portraying a character with a disability is one of the easiest routes an actor can take to draw rave reviews. Whether that's true or not, it seems that one of the most difficult feats is to portray a real, larger-than-life character whose personality is engrained into the popular consciousness. That's why Robert Edwards' turn as the formidable Orson Welles in Orson's Shadow was such a triumph. He lacked the body mass of the porcine Welles, but Edwards more than made up for that through his booming voice and, most important, a keen ability to capture the fascinatingly complex personality—from a joyfully wicked wit to a gargantuan ego—of this giant of stage and screen. It helped to make the flawed Austin Pendleton play, produced by the Alive Theatre at the Long Beach City Playhouse, a delight to observe.

203 Argonne Ave., Long Beach, 90803
Best Actress
Jessica Lamprinos
Photo by Henry+DiRocco/SCR

Under director (and OC Weekly arts writer) Dave Barton's direction, every character in Mark Ravenhill's wickedly funny pool (no water) carried his or her own bright torch. But the one who shined the brightest in this Monkey Wrench Collective production at South Coast Repertory was Lamprinos, in the lead role of a successful visual artist whose fame drives her once-close-knit friends bat-shit crazy. Lamprinos was mesmerizing throughout, but probably most so when she didn't say a word. For much of the play, her character was in a medically induced coma while being brutalized by her friends in the supposed interest of art. When she finally came to and realized the horror her friends had inflicted on her, her rage and, surprisingly, mercy were palpable.

655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, 92626
Best New Play
'How the World Began'
Photo by Henry+DiRocco/SCR

The world premiere of Catherine Trieschmann's play at South Coast Repertory drew more attention for putting the battle between creationism and evolution in public schools under the dramaturgical lens. But, while filled with some juicily packaged polemics about the rather warped views of anti-science Middle America, How the World Began was about things personal as much as political. An Ivy League-educated teacher seeks to rebuild her life in a small Kansas town that's trying to rebuild after a devastating tornado. Characters reeling from trauma converge, and through an apparently innocuous remark in a science class, a firestorm sweeps across the town. The play ultimately becomes not so much about politics, but rather the importance of tolerance.

Honorable mention goes to the Maverick Theater's The Legend of Robin Hood; Nathan Makaryk's innovative retelling captured the men-in-tights style of the legendary tale, but was as much a metaphor on contemporary America as a classic fable.

655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, 92626
Best Play
Photo by Henry+DiRocco/SCR

Shitty plays generally don't earn Pulitzer Prizes, so it wasn't astonishing that Suzan-Lori Parks' 2002 Topdog/Underdog kept viewers' attention. But this Susan Seret-directed piece, staged at South Coast Repertory, didn't just make you pay notice; it grabbed you by the throat and forced attention. The two-person character study about brothers trying to reject—and embrace—street-level hustling offered a rich perspective on life in inner-city black America, something sorely lacking in our black-free county. But the combination of Parks' street-poetry-infused writing and the dynamic performances of Larry Bates and Curtis McClarin elevated it above the topic of color and into the discussion of nothing short of the American dream, in all its red, white and blue illusion.

An honorable mention for best play goes to the Brian Newell-directed Frost/Nixon at the Maverick Theater. Newell's novel staging, which incorporated live video alongside his stellar cast, made for a gripping production.

655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, 92626
Best Technical Elements In a Play
'West Side Story' at the Chance Theater

This category could just as easily be Best Director for Oanh Nguyen. No, he didn't choreograph or light the Chance Theater's gripping and sensual staging of West Side Story, one of the most seasoned chestnuts in the pantry of American theater, but Nguyen picked the people who did, and his ability to weave their terrific efforts into this story made for a riveting production. Kelly Todd's sinewy, writhing choreography masterfully captured the bursting hormones of the young men and women at the center of this play's timeless conflict, and lighting designer KC Wilkerson took full advantage of the LEDs (according to the program, this was one of the "world's first shows in which LED lighting has replaced all conventional lighting"). This arsenal gave Wilkerson the opportunity to drench her design with textures and colors that eliminated unsightly flat or dark patches and, via technology, gave the proceedings a natural, realistic feel. Actors are conditioned to find their light, but rarely does that light actually strengthen and even comment upon their performances.

5552 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, 92807

Best Community Theater That Doesn't Feel Like Community Theater: Long Beach Playhouse


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >