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On Theater: Local pro theaters enjoy fruitful year

On Theater: Local pro theaters enjoy fruitful year
Jenna Cole, left, Lorena Martinez, Tim Bagley and Jose Moreno Brooks in South Coast Repertory's production of "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike." (Photo by Debora Robinson / SCR)

Professional theaters, and those producing professional-caliber productions, did themselves proudly in 2018, lifting their curtains on some memorable shows.

This week’s focus falls on four local theater companies. They are South Coast Repertory, the Laguna Playhouse, the Gem Theater in Garden Grove and the Chance Theater in Anaheim.

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All four enjoyed success during the year, and these were the highlights of each producing organization as seen from this column:

South Coast Repertory

Best production: “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” directed by Bart DeLorenzo

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Runners-up: “Shakespeare in Love,” directed by Marc Masterson, and “Little Black Shadows,” directed by May Adrales

Best performances: Daniel Bellusci in “Little Black Shadows” and Pamela J. Gray in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”

Runners-up: Susannah Rogers in “Shrew!,” Amy Aquino in “The Sisters Rosensweig” and Richard Doyle in “Kings”

Angela Ingersoll as Judy Garland in the Laguna Playhouse production of “End of the Rainbow.”
Angela Ingersoll as Judy Garland in the Laguna Playhouse production of “End of the Rainbow.” (Photo by Jason Niedle)

Laguna Playhouse

Best production: “End of the Rainbow,” directed by Michael Matthews

Runners-up: “Clybourne Park,” directed by Matt August, and “The Seafarer,” directed by Michael Matthews

Best performances: John Vickery in “The Seafarer” and Angela Ingersoll in “End of the Rainbow”

Runners-up: JD Cullum and Jennifer Cannon, both for “Clybourne Park,“ and Zachary Ford in “End of the Rainbow”

Gem Theater

Best Production: “The Producers,” directed by Damien Lorton and Nicole Cassesso

Runner-up: “Bullets Over Broadway,” directed by Damien Lorton

Best performances: Damien Lorton in “The Producers” and Adriana Sanchez in “Hello Dolly”

Runners-up: Alex Bodrero in both “Bullets Over Broadway” and “The Producers” and Beth Hansen in “Bullets Over Broadway”

During a rehearsal for “The Other Place” at the Chance Theater in Anaheim, Jacqueline Wright and Philip David Black rehearse a scene in the notable drama by Sharr White.
During a rehearsal for “The Other Place” at the Chance Theater in Anaheim, Jacqueline Wright and Philip David Black rehearse a scene in the notable drama by Sharr White. (Photo courtesy of Doug Catiller)

Chance Theater

Best production: “The Other Place,” directed by Matthew McCray

Runner-up: “Big Fish,” directed by Oanh Nguyen

Best performances: Jeff Lowe in “Big Fish” and Jacqueline Wright in “The Other Place”

Runners-up: Ron Hastings in “The Other Place,” Amanda Zarr in “Good People” and Mandy Foster in “Emma”

These productions and performances constituted the cream of the professional crop in 2018. Next week the spotlight shifts to local community theater and collegiate shows, followed by this publication’s man and woman of the year in theater.

Tom Titus reviews local theater. This is the first of three columns reviewing the year 2018 in Orange County theater.

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