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‘Dinner with Friends’ revived at STAGEStheatre, reinventing Shakespeare OC

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The depth of character achieved on opening night by the ensemble cast of “Dinner with Friends” (at Fullerton’s STAGEStheatre through June 8) sets the bar a notch higher on the OC storefront scene. Mo Arii and Mark Coyan, Darri Kristin (strikingly cast against type) and David Pittman have wonderful chemistry as a pair of couples who share their joys and heartaches in Donald Margulies’ smart seriocomedy.

Margulies takes people we know—or think we know—and shows us what makes them really tick, from the inside out. The double-edged meaning of friendship, the vulnerability of love, and fleeting nature of life itself have seldom been conveyed as insightfully as Margulies etches them here. Expertly directed by Gary Krinke. Call 714-525-4484.
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If John Walcutt can generate as much electricity and passion at Garden Grove Amphitheater this summer as he did the other night with his all-star 1940s-style radio show fundraiser, Shakespeare Orange County (aka Summerfest OC) is off to a winning start this season. His effort to reinvent the annual festival with the aim of “building bridges with the community” deserves a standing ovation.

“A Midsummer Night's Dream” (June 21-July 19), featuring Garden Grove’s award-winning Polynesian Dance Troupe Hitia O Te Ra and SOC founder Tom Bradac, officially opens the season. George M. Cohan's “The Tavern” (Aug. 7-23), “Romeo & Juliet” (Aug. 3-Sept.20, co-produced with VAALA, The Vietnamese American Association Of Arts And Letters), the Backhausdance troupe (Sept. 25-27) and pair of one-person shows are also on the agenda. Call 714-590-1575 or visit shakespeareoc.org.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony appropriately crowns the May 15 finale of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County's “Beethoven: The Late Great.” Concertgoers will also hear the West Coast premiere of “Frieze,” a newly commissioned work by Mark-Anthony Turnage, titled after a Gustav Klimt painting inspired by the Ninth. The Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra, and choirs from UC Irvine and Chapman University are featured in the event at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Visit http://philharmonicsociety.org or call (949) 553-2422.

Meanwhile at Bowers Museum, “Beethoven: The Late Great” closes May 18; the new “Chuck Jones: Doodles of a Genius” exhibit, celebrating the animation legend, continues through Aug. 3. Visit http://bowers.org.

More from Jordan:

Potok’s ‘Asher Lev’ in L.A. debut at the Fountain, Jewish identity, Israeli film http://www.examiner.com/article/potok-s-asher-lev-l-a-debut-at-the-fount...

Daniel Beaty’s Robeson at the Taper, Ebony’s Robeson extends, ‘Godot’ doc on DVD http://www.examiner.com/article/daniel-beaty-s-robeson-at-the-taper-ebon...

Visit my Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jordan-R.- Young/e/B001K8E7NW
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