Our History


SOC was founded in the late 1970's at the beautiful Garden Grove Festival Amphitheater by Thomas F. Bradac as The Grove Shakespeare Festival. With the 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.

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.

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.