What is Orange County’s cultural scene like?

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The O.C. is known more for its beaches than its cultural scene, but you can find theater, ballet and even Shakespeare if you know where to look.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa puts on world-class dance and theater productions. You can see everything from West Side Story to Shrek: The Musical at this cultural center. Also in Costa Mesa is South Coast Repertory, a regional theater that won a Tony Award. Irvine Barclay Theatre & Cheng Hall at UC Irvine puts on some imaginative performances as well, ranging from symphony orchestras and ballet acts to an evening with David Sedaris.

Downtown Laguna Beach, in addition to offering a plethora of art galleries, is also home to the award-winning Laguna Playhouse, the oldest running playhouse on the West Coast. This 1920s-era theater presents every kind of theatrical event imaginable, from dramas and comedies to musicals and children’s theater. Make time for a performance before or after dinner and don’t forget your swimsuit; the theater is just steps from the beach. Shakespeare Orange County has been paying homage to the world-famous playwright for over 20 years, and it’s received accolades for its top-notch shows. For a more intimate theater experience, try Chance Theater, a storefront theater troupe in Anaheim Hills.

Orange County has grown into a vibrant cultural center, with many thanks to the Segerstrom family, who has brought the Segerstrom Center for the Arts to our area. Here, you can take in music and stage performances from some of the world’s most famous performing artists, as well as Broadway musicals. Laguna Beach also has many of its own rich artistic traditions, including plays at the Laguna Playhouse, the Pageant of the Masters and Sawdust Festival, and First Thursdays Art Walks that give aficionados a glimpse into world-renowned galleries and artists’ studios.

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