SOC was actually founded in the late 1970's at the beautiful Garden Grove Festival Amphitheater by Thomas F. Bradac as The Grove Shakespeare Festival. Word quickly spread of this gorgeous 540 seat outdoor venue in the heart of tree- and grass-filled VILLAGE PARK, just off Historic Main Street in Northern Orange County. Nestled quietly between three freeways (the 5, the 22, and the 405), almost halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego and just a stone's throw from Disneyland, this ideal destination quickly became a hot spot for artists, actors, directors, designers and audiences as it played to packed houses and raked in awards. With the tremendous support of both The City Of Garden Grove and the city's famous STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL, The Grove boasted among its company members such future successes as Gregory Itzin (President Logan on "24"), Alan Mandell (Ovation Winning Best Actor), Matt Walker (founder of the multi-award winning Troubadour Theater Company), Geoff Elliott (founder of L.A.'s A NOISE WITHIN theatre company), French Stewart (THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN), David Anthony Smith (HANOI HILTON), singer/musician Dan Cartmell, Lee Shallat-Chemel (THE MIDDLE), David Denman (THE OFFICE, PARENTHOOD), and new Producing Artistic Director, John Walcutt (LOST, TITANIC, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE...).
After political shifts in the local scene and in the arts, and amid artistic and creative differences, Tom moved his group in the mid nineties over to The Waltmar Theatre at Chapman University just down the road in Orange, California and renamed his band of merry players SHAKESPEARE ORANGE COUNTY. There he was joined by such audience favorites as Elizabeth Norment (HOUSE OF CARDS), Professor Michael Nehring, and Orange County stalwart actor and director Carl Reggiardo, where they joyously presented the works of Shakespeare and other classical theatre to a supportive, faithful, and devoted audience for more than a decade.
"I’ll make a journey twice as far, to enjoy
A second night of such sweet shortness..." (Cymbeline, Act II.4)
The new millenium found Shakespeare Orange County invited back to the beautiful Amphitheater in Garden Grove. Once again home, among the trees of the park and the kids playing soccer and the throwback Friday Night car show on Historic Main Street, doing Shakespeare under the stars.
As beautiful a way to spend a summer's eve as you can imagine... and Tom and the Company reached new heights with Award-Winning productions featuring the birth of new stars like Kim Shively, Jenna Cole, Katie Keane, Amanda Zarr, and one of Tom's best creations: a delightful comedienne named Alyssa Bradac.
A strong core ensemble began to develop, and lead players like Bo Foxworth, Donald Sage MacKaye, John Frederick Jones, Evelyn Carol Case, Michael Fountain, and guests from Shakespeare And Company joined the cast.
In 2013, Tom Bradac announced his intention to retire as Producing Artistic Director, and directed TWELFTH NIGHT and MACBETH in his final season as leader of the the festival. Both productions received powerful reviews for Tom and the Company ("This is not good Shakespeare... This is GREAT Shakespeare!" -Orange County Register, August 2013), and Tom announced that leading actor John Walcutt (Cassius, RICHARD III, Malvolio, and MACBETH on our stage) would be the new Producing Artistic Director as of 2014.
"ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH, DEAR FRIENDS!"
Into our new season we go: 2014. Thank you for your interest and support. Our intention, with John in the lead, and Tom as honorary Artistic Director Emeritus, watching carefully over our shoulders, is to not only carry on the torch as Orange County's premiere Shakespeare theatre, but also to open up our beautiful venue to include other plays, events, groups, and guest artists in order to make a stronger connection and contribution to our remarkable community (76 languages are spoken in Garden Grove!). We'll be co-producing with exciting groups from the OC, LA, and beyond, so keep your eyes peeled for what's to come. And we can't be called just SHAKESPEARE ORANGE COUNTY anymore... so call us SOC... that's right: SOC...
Shakespeare Orange County | Summerfest Orange County. "ONE BIG FAMILY UNDER THE STARS!"