Best Reason to Sit Under the Stars and Listen to Gibberish - 2011
Shakespeare Orange County
You're not going to get high-concept Shakespeare (Hamlet in outer space, Macbeth in a whorehouse) at Orange County's lone theater devoted to classic theater, but you are going to get a slice of the Bard infused with the intelligence of probably the person in the county who has studied and produced him the most: Thomas F. Bradac. Shakespeare Orange County always brings in a few ringers (i.e., professional actors who get real ducats for their work) in key roles and is supplemented greatly by youthful talent from Chapman University, where Bradac teaches. It's straightforward Shakespeare that focuses on his language, and while that language can be a little hard to understand for the uninitiated, everyone can appreciate the company's venue: the gorgeous, 500-seat Festival Amphitheatre. Shakespeare's plays were originally done outdoors, and this sterling venue, according to Bradac, amplifies Shakespeare's theatricality by dispensing with the artificial fourth-wall concept and forcing actors to be "on voice" while onstage, heightening the dramatic intensity of the words. The combination makes for as authentic a Shakespeare experience as one can have in the county—barring the occasional plane or Disneyland fireworks.