Best Place to See a Play at Night

This is home to Orange County's lone classically based theater troupe, Shakespeare Orange County, which, as the name implies, is all about the Bard. So it's fitting that artistic director Thomas F. Bradac and his dedicated troupe of longtime company members and constant influx of talent from Chapman University (where Bradac is an associate professor of theater) possess the most bucolic venue in the county to strut their stuff. The 500-seat theater, surrounded by towering sycamore and ponderosa pines, opened in 1981. In 2004, Shakespeare OC moved in and has produced some 15 shows there, along with special events. It's also used by a few community organizations. But it's when the company is hosting one of Shakespeare's plays that it feels most alive. Which makes sense, at least to Bradac. “Well, Will's plays were written for the outdoors, except for a few at the end of his career, and the language and theatricality of the plays just work wonders outside. They're not as stuffy and pretentious as people think Shakespeare 'should' be—especially when you're wearing shorts and enjoying libations or having a picnic.”

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