Thursday, August 3, 2017 at 8 a.m.
“It shouldn’t be us paying for it. We need someone who values us, someone who really wants us here”
Courtesy John Walcutt / Shakespeare Orange County
Midway through its fourth season at Garden Grove’s 550-seat Festival Amphitheatre, Shakespeare/Summerfest Orange County has tripled attendance, attracted younger and culturally diverse audiences, and—using a pool of local acting talent and professionals from Los Angeles—mounted some very impressive shows.
So is it time to leave?
First off, leaving Garden Grove is definitely not what artistic director John Walcutt wants. The veteran stage, film and TV actor agreed to take over the amphitheater’s summer programming because he saw the potential in both the space and the surrounding community. “A handful of us who had worked there always loved this place, but we felt that [previous producing entity] Shakespeare Orange County had run its course and the audience was very small and particular,” says Walcutt. “We felt that if this was going to pop, we had to somehow connect with the community and get some younger people in there.”
And it’s done just that, forging strong relationships with ethnically diverse cultural groups in the greater Garden Grove area, as well as with the Orange County School of the Arts, which led to educational opportunities and an internship program with the theater company. The result has been massive spectacles featuring professional actors surrounded by a legion of high-school students in the ensemble and multicultural Shakespeare productions, ranging from the just-ended The Tempest, which featured a…
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