Best Technical Elements In a Play Orange County 2012 - '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.