2022 is turning out to be another unpredictable year in arts and culture.

COVID-19 seemed to be on the decline earlier this year, when local arts organizations were planning their 2022 seasons. However, the Omicron variant has thrown a wrench into the best-laid plans of mice, men and women, especially for live performances. Already, some shows have been canceled or postponed during the final days of 2021.

Nonetheless, the upcoming calendar, at this point, is still full of events, with some big names like Branford Marsalis, American Ballet Theatre, Bomsori Kim and Robert Williams still scheduled to make O.C. appearances.

So here’s a look ahead at 2022 in theater, classical music, visual arts, dance, culture and food, brought to you by Voice of OC’s talented team of arts and culture writers. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that most of these will actually happen.

Happy New Year!


Local theaters have been understandably tentative the past 21 months with opening their doors to the public. And while 2022 still won’t be business as usual, as proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test is required for audience members at most venues, many are starting the new year with ambitious offerings, including three Pulitzer Prize-winning plays and another set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights and women’s rights movements. – Joel Beers


Where: Stage Door Repertory Theatre, 1045 N. Armando St., Suite B, Anaheim
When: Jan. 15-Feb. 5
Cost: $19-$24
Contact: stagedoorrep.com

Orange County is the sixth-largest county, by population, in the country. You have to go to No. 37 on that list, Salt Lake County, Utah, to find one that has even close to the same percentage of Black residents (Orange: 2.1 percent; Salt Lake: 2.2 percent). Anyone involved in local theater knows how hard that makes finding Black actors, but that didn’t deter Nick Charles from deciding to mount August Wilson’s 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning “Fences,” a play that calls for seven Black actors. Set in the 1950s, it’s part six of Wilson’s 10-play cycle documenting the experience of African Americans in the 20th century. It is a play rich in allegory and cloaked in the tragedy of a former Negro Leagues baseball player unable to pursue his dreams of playing in the Major Leagues due to racial discrimination and how that bitterness affects his family.

‘Next to Normal’

Where: Chance Theater, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim
When: Jan. 28-Feb. 27
Cost: $35-$49
Contact: chancetheater.com

The Chance was one of the first local theaters to resume live productions in front of an audience, and is one of the few to have announced an entire 2022 season. Ten productions are on the books, including a semi-remount of Lynn Nottage’s “Sweat,” which will be produced in Santa Monica in January, and a co-production with Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre of the world premiere of Dustin Chinn’s “Colonialism is Terrible, but Pho is Delicious,” which will run at the Chance in early 2023.

Closer to home, the theater will mount “Next to Normal” at the end of January. The intimate, three-person musical, which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama, is a powerful look at the effects of mental illness on both the person suffering as well as those who care about her the most.

‘What I Learned in Paris’

Where: South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
When: Feb. 12-March 12
Cost: $20-$98
Contact: scr.org

“Fast-paced romantic comedy” and speaking “to the intersection of race, class and gender at a pivotal time,” are not phrases used to describe most plays, but Pearl Cleage isn’t most playwrights. An essayist, novelist and poet, Cleage is also a political activist who, before her playwrighting career took off, was the press secretary and speechwriter for Atlanta’s first Black mayor, Maynard Jackson. This 2012 play is set in 1973, and draws on Cleage’s personal experience at a time when Southern Blacks had achieved their most significant political gain since Reconstruction, and the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision had given the women’s rights movement an equally major victory.

Classical Music

The first few months of 2022 look to be an embarrassment of riches for classical music in Orange County, with performances by some of the world’s leading soloists and ensembles. But an unpredictable beast casts a long shadow over the season, and its name is Omicron. At this moment, uncertainty lingers around the latest variant’s effect on the public sphere, and concert events may well be curtailed or cancelled as a result. So let’s keep our fingers crossed, because Orange County’s classical music presenters and producers were banking on a return to normal in early 2022 – that’s why there’s a proliferation of big names in the early months of next year. – Paul Hodgins

Emanuel Ax

Where: Soka Performing Arts Center
When: 3 p.m. April 19 (originally Jan. 9, date has been updated)
Cost: $45-$85
Contact: soka.edu

Seven-time Grammy Award winner Emanuel Ax’s performances are the highlight of any chamber music season, and this recital, an all-Chopin program, is a fitting way to launch Soka University’s superb annual classical music series. A highly sought-after soloist and chamber music partner throughout the world, Ax also performs regularly with many major orchestras, and he’s well known for his special projects with other classical music superstars such as Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman.

Emanuel Ax Credit: Photo courtesy of Lisa Marie Mazzucco

Branford Marsalis and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 15
Cost: $35-$120
Contact: philharmonicsociety.org

Three-time Grammy-winner and universally admired jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis plays an intimate venue, the 750-seat Irvine Barclay Theatre, with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for an eclectic program that includes works by Rossini and Debussy. Marsalis and the orchestra will also perform Ibert’s Concertino da Camera, featured on their collaboration album Creation, which reached the No. 2 spot on Billboard’s classical music charts. Presented by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.

YouTube video

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto

Where: Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 27-29
Cost: $27-$204
Contact: pacificsymphony.org

Bomsori Kim, 32, has racked up some impressive accolades in her comparatively short career: winner of the 62nd ARD International Music, the Tchaikovsky International, Queen Elisabeth, International Jean Sibelius Violin, Joseph Joachim International Violin Hannover, Montreal International Musical, and the 15th International Henryk Wieniawski Violin competitions. She joins Pacific Symphony to play Tchaikovsky’s iconic violin concerto. The concert also includes Brahms’ Second Symphony and a late work by the talented and tragically short-lived composer Lili Boulanger.

London Symphony Orchestra with Sir Simon Rattle

Where: Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall
When: 8 p.m. March 22
Cost: $48-$268
Contact: scfta.org

Long considered among the best European classical music ensembles, the London Symphony Orchestra has been an established presence in the recording studio and on the concert circuit for many decades. Several of this award-winning group’s recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Now’s your last chance to experience the orchestra under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle, who is serving his last year as music director. The program includes works by Berlioz, Bartok, Sibelius and Ravel.

Visual Arts

While all arts institutions are forced to readjust in the face of this pesky pandemic and the Omicron variant, museums and galleries are pretty much carrying on with their 2022 plans. That’s because museums are safer than any other public environment, according to a German study released earlier this year.

In January, the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA) is presenting works by renowned lowbrow artist Robert Williams. The Hilbert Museum of California Art is gearing up for new exhibitions, as well as an expansion. And in October, we will (hopefully) see the opening of the long-awaited new building for the Orange County Museum of Art.

It’s going to be an art-filled year. We have yet to see if COVID will further impact 2022 in a dramatic way. – Richard Chang

‘The Visual Adventures of Robert Williams’

Where: Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, 117 N. Sycamore St., Santa Ana
When: Jan. 1-29; gallery hours are noon-5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays
Cost: Free
Contact: (714) 667-1517 or occca.org

This exhibition will feature works by Robert Williams, the king of lowbrow (aka Pop Surrealist) art and founder of Juxtapoz magazine. Prints and paintings from his long career will be on view, including a custom-painted hot rod. This will also be a group show, highlighting 23 artists whose work has been influenced by Williams. The opening reception will be 6-11 p.m. Jan. 8, preceded by a screening of the documentary, “Mr. Bitchin,” at 4 p.m. at Frida Cinema in Santa Ana. Mr. Williams himself is scheduled to attend a Q&A after the screening and be present at the artists’ reception. I’d say this is one not to miss.

‘All That Glitters: The Crown Jewels of the Walt Disney Archives’ and ‘Everest: Ascent to Glory’

Where: Bowers Museum, 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana
When: “Disney” through June 19; “Everest” through Aug. 28
Cost: $10-$25
Contact: (714) 567-3600 or bowers.org

As a follow-up to this past year’s “Inside the Walt Disney Archives,” the Bowers is presenting “All That Glitters,” which showcases jewelry and accessories from “Titanic,” “The Princess Diaries,” “Black Panther” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” The exhibition is divided into three sections: “Jewelry Informs Character,” which explains what wearable accessories tell viewers about characters; “Feature Vault,” which offers a look at the most prized jewelry and accessories inside the Disney archives; and “Reflections on Reality,” which includes displays that connect earrings, cuff links, rings, tie pins and more back to the Disney films and parks from where they originated. Note: The jewelry is not real, but it may look pretty priceless.

Also coming in February is “Everest: Ascent to Glory,” a partnership with the Royal Geographic Society. This exhibit will highlight photographs, films and artifacts from five expeditions leading up to and including the earliest successful attempt to climb the highest peak in the world.

‘Nature vs. Nurture’

Where: City of Brea Art Gallery, 1 Civic Center Circle, Brea
When: Jan. 29-March 25; hours are noon-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays
Cost: $3 general, free for Brea residents and children under 12 years old
Contact: 714-990-7730 or breagallery.com

A small group of artists have been invited to contemplate the natural world’s beauty, and humanity’s impact on the planet. The artists will explore themes including harmonious relationships between humans and nature, as well as the disastrous effects of global warming and pollution. An opening reception is planned for 5-7 p.m. Jan. 29.

OCMA to Open Its New Museum

Where: 3333 Avenue of the Arts, Costa Mesa
When: Oct. 8, 2022
Cost: Free
Contact: ocma.art

Last but not least, the Orange County Museum of Art will finally be opening its new home at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts on Oct. 8. The $93 million, 53,000-square-feet structure — designed by Morphosis and its Pritzker Prize-winning director, Thom Mayne — is steadily taking shape at the center, on a plot of land that used to be a lima bean field. The opening exhibitions will be the California Biennial, co-curated by Elizabeth Armstrong, Essence Harden and Gilbert Vicario; “Fred Eversley: Reflecting Back (the World)”; and “13 Women,” honoring the 13 women who founded the museum in 1962.

This project has been in the works for at least 20 years, and by the time it is finished, it will cap a quest that the late Henry Segerstrom, a longtime local arts patron, envisioned: to build a world-class art museum in the heart of Segerstrom Center and Orange County.


It’s hard to know if 2022 will be the year that theater-going returns to normal, but the lineup of dance coming to Orange County certainly calls for the big stage rather than the small screen. Dance patrons have everything to look forward to from classical ballet and contemporary to folklorico and even a full tap dance production as part of a tap festival at Musco Center in the spring. We can also expect that Segerstrom’s recently-announced three-year partnership with American Ballet Theatre will yield some exciting world premieres by Alonzo King and others, although details of the performances have not yet been shared. – Kaitlin Wright

Sacre’ by Circa

Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 2-3
Cost: Starting at $30
Contact: 949-854-4646 or thebarclay.org

After over 100 years of inspiring dance and ballet, Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” is being interpreted in the form of an acrobatic circus performance for the first time. Critically acclaimed contemporary circus company Circa weaves together world-class acrobatics with dark humor and emotional storytelling. The Australia-based performance group, comprised of 10 acrobats, invites audiences to see “circus” in a new, theatrical way. The production features compositions by Philippe Bachman alongside Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.”

YouTube video

Ballet Folklorico Fest

Where: Musco Center for the Arts, 415 N. Glassell St., Orange
When: 12 p.m. Feb. 19
Cost: $10
Contact: 714-997-6812 or muscocenter.org

The second annual Ballet Folklorico Fest presents a half-day showcase of ballet folklorico companies from around the area. Performances will be curated by Kareli Montoya, founder of the premier Mexican American folk dance company in the U.S., Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles. The folklorico fest appears as part of the center’s “Heartbeat of Mexico” program that features musical performances, arts, crafts, vendors and food.

Folklorico dancers will perform at the Musco Center for the Arts in Orange this February. Credit: Photo courtesy of Musco Center for the Arts

‘Don Quixote’ by Festival Ballet Theatre

Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine
When: 7 p.m. March 19 and 2 p.m. March 20
Cost: Starting at $35
Contact: 949-854-4646 or thebarclay.org

Festival Ballet Theatre will present the family-friendly ballet full of bravery, fantasy and love based on the novel by Miguel Cervantes. The story centers on Don Quixote, an aging and eccentric nobleman, who imagines himself to be a valiant knight. Quixote and his trusted sidekick Sancho Panza embark on a humorous and fateful journey filled with windmills that become monsters and lots of adventure. Festival Ballet’s production features dancers from the Orange County company as well as guest artists from other national ballet companies.

Dancers in Festival Ballet Theatre’s 2013 production of “Don Quixote.” Credit: Photo courtesy of ABT/Dave Friedman

Chloe Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies

Where: Musco Center for the Arts, 415 N. Glassell St., Orange
When: 7:30 p.m. April 2
Cost: Starting at $20
Contact: 714-997-6812 or muscocenter.org

Syncopated Ladies is an all-female tap dance band from Los Angeles, created by Emmy Award-nominated tap dancer and choreographer Chloe Arnold. The tap dancers have become an internet sensation with a video that amassed over a million views when shared by Beyoncé. The group also recently won the first dance crew battle on Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and performed on “Good Morning America,” and at the U.S. Open.

YouTube video

Stardust: From Bach to Bowie’ by Complexions Contemporary Ballet

Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine
When: 8 p.m. April 29
Cost: Starting at $30
Contact: 949-854-4646 or thebarclay.org

“Stardust” is an evening of dance celebrating two true musical icons from distinct and distant eras. The program starts with “Bach 25,” an exploration of love and alliances, featuring music by Johann Sebastian Bach. The second half of the show presents “Stardust,” dedicated to David Bowie and featuring many of the singer’s hits including “Space Oddity,” “Life on Mars” and “Let’s Dance.” Witness Complexions Contemporary Ballet with its trademark merging of dance styles — ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop — and glam-rock inspired costumes.

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Bringing in the new year should also mean opening up your spirit and welcoming in new experiences. Locals can celebrate Lunar New Year with families and friends, or see which marine life creatures they can spot walking past the beautiful view of the Dana Point coastline.

The future continues to appear spotty amid the pandemic, but however you choose to celebrate the new year, here are a few events to look forward to. – Kristina Garcia

Chinese Lunar New Year at the Bowers Museum

When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 6
Where: Bowers Museum, 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana
Cost: Free

The Bowers Museum looks forward to bringing back its free Chinese Lunar New Year family festival. Last year’s Lunar New Year celebration took place online, along with many other events, replacing the in-person festivities with an online stream to celebrate the year of the Ox for its 2021 Chinese New Year event.

During last year’s virtual event, viewers watched performances of taiko drumming, piano, dance and more. Viewers also learned how to make dumplings, followed along in an art project for bamboo brush painting, as well as learned about traditional Chinese cultural practices such as flower arrangements.

The year 2022 will be the Year of the Tiger and the Bowers Museum will be celebrating at the Key Courtyard with colorful dragons, lions and traditional performances from China.

Union of Vietnamese Student Associations Tết Festival 2022

When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 5, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 6
Where: OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
Cost: $8

Join the local community at the Tết Festival this February to ring in the Year of the Tiger.

Tết Nguyên Đán, sometimes shortened to Tết, is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year and is one of the biggest and most sacred festivals in Vietnamese culture. Tết festivals are usually a three-day celebration marking the beginning of spring. During the occasion, friends and families gather to let go of the previous years’ struggles and bask in each other’s company as they look forward to the new year with optimism.

This will be a triumphant return after Tết Festival 2021 was postponed until this year due to the threat of the COVID-19 virus to the staff and community.

The UVSA Tết Festival has been around in Southern California since 1982, outgrowing its homes more and more until finally settling at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, where the festival has been located for the past eight years. Since then, UVSA has maintained its vision of staying true to Vietnamese culture as the festival presents traditional food, performances and entertainment to those who attend.

Whale Watching in Dana Point

When: May through November
Where: Dana Point Harbor, 34571 Golden Lantern St., Dana Point

All year around visitors can spot dolphins, whales and other marine life safely outdoors in Dana Point. But specifically from May through November, visitors can get an exciting view of blue whale season just off the coast of Dana Point or on a boat tour. During this time, visitors will be able to witness the rare and breathtaking blue whale, which grows massive in size, reaching over 100 feet long and weighing over 100 tons, making it the largest mammal on Earth.

If locals miss blue whale season, they still have time to spot gray whales from late November to mid-May. During this period, gray whales cut through Dana Point as they make their 10,000 to 14,000-mile migration trip from their breeding grounds in Baja California, Mexico to their feeding grounds in the Arctic.

As the county’s only publicly accessible harbor, it has become essential to the entire town’s architectural and cultural aesthetic. Being named the “Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World” in 2019, Dana Point has become a hot spot for whale and dolphin lovers.

While whale watching is the primetime event of the season, Dana Point recently lost a cultural mainstay: the replica ship Pilgrim. The original ship was sailed by Richard Henry Dana Jr. in 1834 from Boston to California, carrying New England goods used for sale or trade.

After the replica Pilgrim suddenly began sanking at its dock in March 2020, there was no way to safely salvage the ship, ultimately deciding to demolish the ship all together. This took a devastating toll on the community, as the ship served as an educational resource for the thousands of students who boarded the historical ship for field trips over the past 39 years to learn about marine science.

Eyes Peeled for the New Year

Below are a few other local community events that have announced 2022 events but have yet to release more details. In order to stay updated on new information, refer to their corresponding websites.

Anaheim: 42nd annual Black History Parade & Unity Festival

Where: Downtown Anaheim, 200 S. Anaheim Blvd.
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 5
Website: oc-hc.org

Aliiah Arellano, 17, is a senior at Banning in Wilington. This is her second year performing with her school band and drill team. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Aliso Viejo: Annual International Festival 2022

Where: Soka University, 1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo
When: Canceled for 2022; anticipating May 6, 2023
Website: soka.edu/about/international-festival

Garden Grove: 62nd Garden Grove Strawberry Festival

Where: Village Green, between South Euclid and Main streets
When: May 27-30
Website: strawberryfestival.org

Mission San Juan Capistrano: Battle of the Mariachis

Where: Mission San Juan Capistrano, 26801 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano
When: TBA
Website: missionsjc.com/battle-of-the-mariachis/

Mission San Juan Capistrano: 62nd Annual Swallows Day Parade and Mercado Street Faire

Where: Throughout downtown San Juan Capistrano
When: March 12
Website: swallowsparade.com

Laguna Beach: 56th annual Sawdust Art Festival

Where: 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach
When: June 24-Sept. 4
Website: sawdustartfestival.org

Laguna Beach: Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters

Where: 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach
When: Festival: July 5-Sept. 2; pageant: July 7-Sept. 2
Pageant theme: “Wonderful World”
Website: foapom.com


As complicated as 2021 was, chefs and restaurateurs look ahead at a new year and new opportunities to feed everyone’s culinary needs. Signature Italian, non-corporate New American and Filipino brunch concepts are already in the works. Below is an amuse-bouche of the culinary adventures I’m hungry for. – Anne Marie Panoringan

Filipino Brunch (By Way of Grandma) Coming to Anaheim

When: Spring 2022
Where: 2410 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim
What: Family-friendly, Pacific Islander cuisine accessible to sports/concert venues

Chef Henry Pineda originally opened the flagship location of Modern Filipino Kitchen (MFK) by Aysee in Anaheim. While it’s temporarily closed, folks can still frequent the sister location in Bellflower’s SteelCraft food hall. Pineda continues expressing his love language of food at a future brunch-focused spot named Lolas (Tagalog for grandmas — Pineda dedicates the eatery to both of his) by MFK down the street from Angel Stadium and City National Grove of Anaheim in the former Calivino Wine Pub space. According to Pineda it will evoke “island vibes, a little Latin flair and a soulful touch.”

A Year-Round Solstice in Irvine

When: Winter 2022
Where: 18555 Jamboree Road, Irvine
What: Progressive American dining tucked away in an office complex

The meteorological occurrence that happens in summer and winter, Solstice is also the future Modern American establishment scheduled to open its doors in early 2022 off Jamboree Road at a new-ish office complex called The Boardwalk. Featuring a menu and ambiance driven by seasonality — lunch, dinner, plus brunch will be complemented by signature cocktails as well as zero-proof selections. Former Oak Grill chef Brittany Valles joins culinary director chef Demetrio Zavala on this project of updated classics.

The Next Chapter of Angelina’s at South Coast Plaza

When: To be determined
Where: 650 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa
What: Pizza, pasta and ? adjacent to Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Costa Mesa’s upscale retail destination has seen its share of comings and goings (farewell The Hall: Global Eatery; Hello Paradise Dynasty!). Along the performing arts side of South Coast Plaza, a space previously occupied by Pizzeria Ortica is transitioning to Teatro Angelina. From the creative team behind Angelina’s Pizzeria Napoletana and recently opened Bottega Angelina in Laguna Niguel, expect this narrow dining room to cater to Segerstrom’s theater patrons. While additional details were not available when requested, an abbreviated hybrid of Angelina’s existing concepts would serve the crowds well.

Rumor Has It: Din Tai Fung

When: To be determined
Where: 15333 Culver Drive, #720, Irvine
What: Chinese restaurant empire specializing in soup dumplings and noodles

When local favorite Sam Woo off Culver Boulevard in Irvine closed earlier in December, some patrons were quick to report over message boards that xiao long bao experts Din Tai Fung would be moving into the spacious vacancy, according to statements made by restaurant staff. After inquiring with DTF corporate, the response received by corporate neither confirmed nor denied the claim. “Din Tai Fung in the USA is a family-owned and operated restaurant group that opens new locations at a conservative rate in order to maintain our standards of food and service,” guest services representative Jeana Lee said. Only time will tell if the rumor holds true.

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