By Esther Ro/Garden Grove Journal
Shakespeare Orange County is kicking off its 22nd season today (Thursday) with “Twelfth Night,” a comedic tale involving mistaken identities and a convoluted love triangle, at the Festival Amphitheatre in Garden Grove.
The renowned playwright’s last romantic comedy is being co-directed by father-daughter duo, Thomas and Alyssa Bradac.
Alyssa, who just completed a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Canada, is home for the time being before returning to her alma mater to assume a teaching position in the fall.
“I feel like it’s a blessing to have her here,” said Thomas. “We’ve had a lot of fun. The poetry is very dense, but it’s also very well-written. It’s been a great play to work on [together].”
Having grown up observing and learning from her father, Alyssa developed a personal aesthetic that reflects his influence. Their shared affinity for Shakespeare, similar directing styles and roughly 20 years of collaboration experience are what allows the pair to be an effective team.
“There are times when I think we share a brain,” said Alyssa. “And there are times when I can translate for him when needed to other people who don’t share that brain.”
The original plan called for Alyssa to direct the play independently, but wanting to get back onstage to perform, she secured the role of Feste the fool.
“[I’ve] been learning how to navigate being on stage and being a director at the same time, which is really, really valuable,” said Alyssa.
This season’s production of “Twelfth Night” is of greater significance than the previous times it has been performed.
“The last time we did it, I was dissatisfied with what we did with it as a theater company. Since this is going to be my last summer, I wanted to rectify the ones I didn’t think we did as well as I thought we could,” said Thomas.
“Twelfth Night” is also the play that launched John Walcutt’s acting career back in 1982 when Thomas led the Grove Shakespeare Festival.
Walcutt, who plays the character Malvolio, will be assuming responsibility of SOC after Thomas’s retirement.
His vision for the future of SOC mainly consists of making theater more accessible and appealing to the general public as well as reaching out to the diverse Asian and Hispanic communities to keep Shakespeare alive and well in Orange County.
“I would love to spend the next 10 to 15 years getting us to the 50th anniversary,” said Walcutt.
Alyssa also plans to return to Garden Grove and continue working with SOC.
“Because there’s not a whole lot going on in Canada theatrically then, I’d love to spend my summers back here doing this,” said Alyssa Bradac.
“Twelfth Night” will run Thursdays through Saturdays through Aug. 3 at the Festival Amphitheatre, located at 12762 Main St in Garden Grove. All performances start at 8:15 p.m.
SOC will also stage “Macbeth” later in the season, directed by Thomas and featuring Walcutt as the title character.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.shakespeareoc.org or by calling the box office at (714) 744-7016 from 4 to 6:15 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays.