Friday, August 27, 2010

A Tale of Two Kings

Tucked in the trees in Garden Grove's historic center lies the Festival Amphitheater, where this and every summer talented actors perform some of Will Shakespeare's best plays. Last month, Shakespeare Orange County featured the lighthearted romp “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” filled with love triangles, laughs, and even a really adorable dog (I hear he's a union actor.) For nine performances in September, the theater takes a serious turn as it presents “King Lear,” a tragedy considered one of Will's best.
The title character will be played by Dennis Krausnick, a well-known theater guru and a founder of Shakespeare & Company: located in Massachussetts, the company is one of the country's most prestigious. Other actors include Evelyn Carol Case, Carl Reggiardo, Kim Blair-Shively, Michael Nehring, and Ryan Shively. Against the late-summer sky, the actors perform their roles in the outdoor theater unamplified and with a thorough knowledge of the work, making for an intimate experience. I've been lucky enough to see a few of Shakespeare Orange County's plays, and as a non-scholar I've been amazed at how understandable and moving the Elizabethan English is when performed by great actors.

After the show, you may need some cheering up (It is a tragedy, after all). Head just down Main Street to the Azteca Mexican Restaurant for an experience fit for a king... or rather, the King. Azteca Mexican Restaurant is home to the Crooner's Lounge, an over-the-top bar devoted to none other than Elvis. With a phenomenal kitschy collection dedicated to the King, you'll swear you're in Graceland. On Thursday nights, the lounge hosts “Drink and Draw,” when local artists come out to work on their projects while sipping beer in the cushy booths. The lounge also hosts a serious karaoke crowd on the weekends, has generous and sweet bartenders, and happens to be where the thespians like to imbibe post-show, so you'll likely rub elbows with some of the actors.

“King Lear” will be performed every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. from September 2nd to 18th at the Festival Amphitheater in Garden Grove. Friday, September 3 is the official opening night and will be followed by a wine and cheese reception. Tickets are $32 general admission and $30 for students and seniors. Purchase tickets online at For the budget-conscious, stop by for “Pay What You Will” Thursdays, where you can treat yourself to top-notch Shakespeare for a donation of your choosing.

Check out the Facebook event or the Shakespeare Orange County web site for more details. See you there!

in my earbuds: Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs-  "Repo Man"

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