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Rachel Bonds’ ‘Five Mile Lake’ at SCR, Bartok & Rach at Philharmonic Society OC

Stephane Deneve conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Stephane Deneve conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

It’s that time of year when I want to pitch a tent in Costa Mesa, between all the activity at South Coast Repertory and Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Samuel D. Hunter’s “Rest” closes today at SCR but the exhibition of naturalistic acting on display there continues in Rachel Bonds’ “Five Mile Lake” (running through May 4). That makes it very pleasant to sit back and hang out with characters like Mary and Jamie, who work in a bakery and live in a small town on the titular lake—though the play treads water like Jamie’s visiting brother Rufus (who’s moved away) for quite a while.

By the time it’s over, half the men in the audience will want to hug Rebecca Mozo (Mary), and Nicole Shalhoub (Rufus’ girlfriend Peta) will win the heartfelt empathy of both guys and gals in an equally flawless performance. Corey Brill (Rufus) has the most difficult role; you may want to give him a good kick in the pants, but that’s the kind of audience involvement an actor strives for. Daniella Topol’s direction is almost (but admirably) unnoticeable. Call 714-708-5555.
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I’d never heard of violinist Gil Shaham until he sent me a terrific CD recorded on his own Canary Classics label a few years ago. What you see in live performance—as in his sparkling rendition of Bartok’s offbeat Violin Concerto No. 2 last night at the Philharmonic Society of OC’s presentation of the L.A. Phil at SCFTA—is how Shaham somehow manages to relax, smile and even laugh between masterly strokes on the instrument, while remaining wholly focused.

If Shaham was the draw last night, the L.A. Phil’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 (under the baton of Stéphane Denève) was the real treat. Not only does it run the dessert-rich gambit of mood and style from funereal to ethereal, from frenetic to lush and melodic, it was played to utter perfection.

Coming up on the Philharmonic Society agenda as it celebrates its 60th anniversary: Beethoven: The Late Great Finale (May 15), the Czech Phil with Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Nov. 4) and the L.A Phil with Gustavo Dudamel (Nov. 23). Visit

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