On Theater: Pro theaters impressive during 2019


(This is the first in a series of three columns reviewing the year 2019 in local theater)

Professional and semi-professional theaters in Orange County enjoyed a bountiful year with a tasty menu of old favorites and new, challenging productions.

This opening shot in our year-end series examines the top attractions and performers at South Coast Repertory, the Laguna Playhouse, the GEM Theater and the Chance Theater. The envelopes, please.


South Coast Repertory

Best production: Sweeney Todd,” directed by Kent Nicholson

Runners-up: Sheepdog,” directed by Leah C. Gardiner, and “M. Butterfly,” directed by Desdemona Chiang

Best actors: Jamey Hood, “Sweeney Todd,” and Erika LaVonn, “Sheepdog”

Runners-up: David St. Louis, “Sweeney Todd,” and Maureen Sebastian, “Poor Yella Rednecks

Laguna Playhouse

Best production:Mamma Mia!” directed by Karen Babcock Brassea

Runners-up: Blues in the Night,” directed by Sheldon Epps, and “Heisenberg,” directed by Katharine Farmer

Best actors: Michael Learned, “Driving Miss Daisy,” and Faline England, “Heisenberg.”

Runners-up: French Stewart, “Harvey,” and McKenna Wells, “Mamma Mia”

GEM Theater

Best production:West Side Story,” directed by Damien Lorton

Runner-up:Disaster” and “Beauty and the Beast,” both also directed by Damien Lorton

Best actors: Dee Shandera, “Disaster” and Brandon Taylor Jones, “West Side Story”

Runners-up: Adriana Sanchez, “Disaster,” “Nine,” Brittany Girardi, “Beauty and the Beast” and Nicole Cassesso, “Nine,” “West Side Story”

Chance Theater

Best production:Ragtime,” directed by Casey Stangl

Runner-up:Tigers Be Still,” directed by Marya Mazor.

Best actors: Piper Power, “Tigers Be Still” and Jessica Erin Martin, “Skylight

Runners-up: Monika Peña, “Lizzie,” and Dony Wright, “Ragtime

After a two-week hiatus, we’ll turn the spotlight on local community and collegiate productions. Then on Dec. 27 comes the revealing of the man and woman of the year in local theater for 2019.

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