Best Theater/Playhouse

Yes, the theater founded by UC Irvine professor Eli Simon benefits from close access to the infrastructure, as well as the past and present talent of the university, and to compare its output—two plays and a handful of special events each summer—to those that work year-round might not sound like a fair comparison. And if the New Swan only consisted of its unique space–a 160-seat, three-level, outdoor, mini-Elizabethan theater fashioned into a cylinder from wood and steel—it wouldn’t be. But as the Bard his own badass self wrote, the play’s the thing, and every production at the New Swan is immersive, compact, talent-laden and entertaining in every way, whether it’s a tricked-out 1980s spin on The Taming of the Shrew or a gritty tragedy such as MacBeth.

Gateway Commons, UC Irvine, West Peltason and Campus drives, Irvine, (949) 824-2787;

Readers’ Choice: Segerstrom Center for the Arts

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