A So. Cal. Contributing Editor since 2009, Michael Lawrence Quintos is a talented, mild-mannered Designer by day. But as night falls, he regularly performs on various stages everywhere as a Countertenor soloist, actor, and dancer for MenAlive since 2002. He sings everything from Broadway, Jazz, R&B, Classical, Gospel and Pop, and has shared the stage with Bernadette Peters, Debbie Reynolds, Michael Feinstein, and Liza Minnelli. His musical theater roots started early, performing in various stage productions and a couple of nationally-televised programs. The performing bug eventually brought him a brief championship run in the Philippines' version of "Star Search" before moving to Las Vegas at age 11. College brought him out to Orange County, California, where he earned a BFA in Graphic Design and a BA in Film Screenwriting. He has spent several years as a designer and art director for various media companies, while spending his free time performing in or critiquing shows.
Follow Michael on Twitter or Instagram @cre8iveMLQ.
A powerful, emotionally-riveting, dynamically-staged original stage musical, DEAR EVAN HANSEN is a truly incredible, phenomenal show that I happily admit-in just a few years of its existence-has quickly become one of my favorite Broadway musicals of all time. Not only does it feature gorgeous, memorable songs from Oscar winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, it also has a simple but notably layered and impactful book by Steven Levenson that encourages deeper, meaningful discourse long after the end of the show. Even more remarkable is that the show presents a troubled but empathetic title character that demands so much from the extraordinary Ben Levi Ross-the actor tasked to bring him to life-that you are left in awe at his performance's sheer tenacity and brilliance. Thankfully, it has finally arrived at Orange County's Segerstrom Center for the Arts, where the Tony Award-winning musical's first national tour continues its much-too-brief two-week engagement through January 13, 2019 in Costa Mesa.Review: BWW's Michael L. Quintos Picks Best of O.C. and Beyond for 2018 December 29, 2018
As with each passing season, 2018 proved to be another exceptional year for theater not only in Souther California in general but also in Orange County---my home base. This year, the OC finally welcomed the debut of what has become this century's most awarded and most renowned stage musical ever about the Founding Father etched regally on the 10 dollar bill. Meanwhile, So. Cal. enjoyed a powerful surge of new stage works that explored Asian-American experiences, a positive step forward in the presentation of diverse voices we seldom hear from on the stage. A pair of touring musicals---both opening in the O.C. in early 2019---made such an impact in their Los Angeles engagements for me personally that I had to include them in my list, even though I have not 'officially' reviewed the productions for print. With that said, here is my 'Best of 2018' from Orange County and adjacent locales nearby---a mixture of outstanding shows and brilliant performances that made a lasting, memorable imprint in my theatergoing experience this year.BWW Review: Musical Adaptation of Jane Austen's EMMA Beguiles at OC's Chance Theater December 19, 2018
While watching Chance Theater's brand new OC-premiere of EMMA: THE MUSICAL--Paul Gordon's charm-filled 2007 stage musical adaptation of Jane Austen's beloved 1815 novel--I noticed a welcome sensation that took over me throughout most of the production I could not stop smiling. Delightfully appealing and positively buoyant in a great many aspects, this wonderfully witty and quite beguiling production--directed with engaging gusto by Casey Long--continues performances at their Cripe Stage in Anaheim through December 23, 2018.BWW Review: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - A CHRISTMAS ROSE Panto Delights at Laguna Playhouse December 13, 2018
The cheeky PG-rated fun of British Panto, courtesy of Lythgoe Family Productions, returns for more holiday silliness at Orange County's Laguna Playhouse, this time with BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A CHRISTMAS ROSE, which continues through December 30, 2018 in Laguna Beach under the direction of Sheldon Epps. Fun, light-hearted, and a much-needed far-from-serious break from reality, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A CHRISTMAS ROSE is wonderful family treat the whole family can enjoy for the holiday season.BWW Review: Hit Musical WAITRESS is the Sweetest Treat at Segerstrom Center November 20, 2018
Can you recall the last time you were truly enamored by a stage musical? Well, that is exactly what transpires while watching the all-together endearing hit Broadway musical WAITRESS, which continues its national tour stop at Orange County's Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa through November 25, 2018. Like the warmest of embraces, the yummiest of comfort food, and the most cherished camaraderie of dear friends or loved ones, WAITRESS is, overall, quite an adorable, extremely likable show. Even its forgivable flaws are trounced by its irresistible delicacy and its winsome machinations.BWW Review: Political Play KINGS at South Coast Rep Exposes the Influence of Lobbyists November 5, 2018
As our divided country hurtles towards the all-important mid-term elections, it is becoming increasingly harder not to feel even a bit disenchanted with it all, as we surrender to the feeling that our political system seems to be unfairly rigged. Right smack at the center of the action are people who call themselves lobbyists---people who are hired (and are paid handsomely) by a business, an industry, or a cause to persuade government officials or even promising electoral candidates to support that specific business, industry, or cause that employ them. This is the sphere that surrounds Sarah Burgess' timely new play KINGS, which is now continuing its West Coast Premiere performances at Orange County's South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA through November 10. Interesting, intriguing, but slightly too tame and a bit of a promising work-in progress, the play basically presents what most of us already know about the lobby-friendly political arena: in order to stay in 'the game,' you have to be willing to play within it.BWW Review: VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE Brings Sibling Hilarity to South Coast Repertory October 17, 2018
Thank goodness my lack of knowledge of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov's library of theatrical plays and fictional stories didn't prevent me from enjoying Christopher Durang's wildly hilarious, Chekhov-inspired VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, a modern-set play that won the Tony Award for Best Play back in 2013. Apparently filled with casual allusions to past Chekhov works---from character names and one-off references to thematic motifs---the play does offer, at its core, a laugh-a-minute comedy about a dysfunctional trio of siblings trying to face the apparently troubling onset of middle ageand the possibility that they may not have done enough in their lives to deem it a satisfactory one. This undeniably funny production continues at Orange County's Tony-winning regional theater South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa through October 21, 2018.BWW Review: Intense Drama THE OTHER PLACE Stirs at OC's Chance Theater October 5, 2018
In award-winning playwright Sharr White's intriguing 2011 psychological drama THE OTHER PLACE, the play's compelling central figure, 52-year-old laboratory scientist turned drug company marketing exec Juliana Smithton, narrates her own fascinating story directly for the audience. For its stirring Orange County Premiere production currently on stage at Chance Theater in Anaheim through October 21, Juliana is played with powerful, intense ferocity by Jacqueline Wright, in what will surely be noted as one of the season's most memorable dramatic performances you will long remember this year.BWW Review: South Coast Repertory Presents Charming Stage Adaptation of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY September 18, 2018
To kick off its 55th Season, Orange County's Tony Award-winning regional theater South Coast Repertory is presenting a charming new stage adaptation of the Jane Austen literary classic SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, which continues performances in Costa Mesa through September 29. In tone, pacing, and casting, SCR's fresh if still lengthy adaptation of the 1811 novel is lovingly fluffy and buoyant, yet achingly relatable and grounded-just the sort of expectation one gets from a reverent adaptation of a work from one of literature's most revered female voices.BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET! Pulsates with High-Energy Rhythms at Segerstrom Center August 27, 2018
I believe the best way to describe the sensation one gets when experiencing the Broadway stage musical adaptation of multi-platinum selling recording artist Gloria Estefan's life story is to actually use one of her very famous songs: "The Rhythm is Gonna Get You." That is exactly what happens to an ecstatic audience in attendance of ON YOUR FEET!, the infectiously high-energy 2015 jukebox musical chronicling the professional and personal lives of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, arguably the Latin music world's most successful power couple responsible for bringing their Miami-honed Cuban-fusion sounds to worldwide acclaim. After a year on the road, the musical has finally made its way to Orange County's Segerstrom Center for the Arts, where it continues its two-week engagement in Costa Mesa through September 2.BWW Review: Salonga, Grier, Hilty, Bart & Company Lead Charming Arden-directed ANNIE at the Hollywood Bowl July 28, 2018
Quite possibly the most popular family-friendly stage musical of all time, ANNIE---the classic 1977 Tony Award winner for Best Musical based on Harold Gray's 'Little Orphan Annie' comic strip---seems like a no-brainer choice to appear as the annual all-star summer musical at the world-famous Hollywood Bowl. So it's actually not a surprise that this plucky, unabashedly charming production---now causing giddy bursts of laughter and collective choruses of 'awwww's' at Hollywood's iconic 18,000-seat outdoor arena for two more performances this weekend---is such a perfect fit. And judging by its marvelous opening night performance this past Friday, July 27, the production itself is sure to win over anyone in attendance of its remaining shows.BWW Review: Endearing and Fun SCHOOL OF ROCK Surprises at Segerstrom Center July 27, 2018
When it comes to seeing a fresh new show with low or even non-existent expectations, nothing is more pleasurable and satisfying than walking out at the end of it with a huge, beaming smile on your face. That was the giddy communal feeling that I and an ecstatic audience experienced recently during the highly enjoyable Orange County opening night performance of SCHOOL OF ROCK - The Musical, the charming 2015 Broadway musical now continuing its national tour stop at Costa Mesa's Segerstrom Center for the Arts for two weeks through August 5. While certainly not a groundbreaking, game-changing musical by any means, the nonetheless engaging SCHOOL OF ROCK is a definite crowdpleaser worth checking out. The kids in the show? Spectacular!BWW Review: BIG FISH Musical Adaptation Makes OC Premiere at Chance Theater July 16, 2018
An endearing musical with an even more endearing story, BIG FISH is a winsome stage production that is currently making its Orange County regional debut at Anaheim's Chance Theater through July 29, 2018 helmed by its own resident executive artistic director Oanh Nguyen. Filled with hard-to-believe, imaginative tales that skew more wonderful rather than odd, this cute, warm hug of a musical is based on the 1998 novel by Daniel Wallace that also inspired a 2003 big-screen adaptation directed by Tim Burton. For Chance Theater's scaled-down, small space iteration, Nguyen has fashioned a relatively appealing production that is generous with heart and admirable in spirit.BWW Review: Musical Theatre West Salutes Old-Fashioned YANKEE DOODLE DANDY July 12, 2018
George M. Cohan has been attributed to being the father of the American Musical, whose works are the very roots of Broadway and musical theater that we know today. Without his numerous contributions to the American theater, Broadway as we all know it probably wouldn't even exist. This is the idea that's drummed rather loudly and patriotically by the ending of YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, the 2004 stage musical now in the midst of its Southern California regional premiere via Musical Theatre West. A fairly entertaining, if inescapably old-fashioned jukebox musical that paints rather broad strokes rather than giving a deep dive into Cohan's life story, this new production continues performances at the Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts in Long Beach through July 22, 2018.BWW Review: Liza Minnelli and Michael Feinstein Perform Together at OC's Segerstrom Center July 6, 2018
A beloved entertainment icon borne from showbiz royalty, it was certainly no surprise that living legend Liza Minnelli-a past recipient of four Tony Awards, an Oscar, a special Grammy, two Golden Globe Awards, and an Emmy Award-was greeted with thunderous cheers and ovations during her recent return appearance on June 30, 2018 at Orange County's Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, accompanied by her friend and fellow music phenom Michael Feinstein. The one-night-only special event-billed as "Liza Minnelli and Michael Feinstein: In Conversation and Performance"-featured the award-winning singer, actress and stage superstar as, naturally, the night's main attraction, which had her singing (while seated) through a few classics while, in between, waxed nostalgic about her storied career and, of course, her famous parents, film icon Judy Garland and renowned director Vincente Minnelli.BWW Review: Beautifully Sung Revival of THE COLOR PURPLE Enraptures OC June 22, 2018
While its original production, as most Broadway shows go, offered the expected big sets, first-rate costumes, and impressive production values, the 2015 Tony Award-winning revival production of THE COLOR PUPLE---currently slaying audiences for a week-long stop at Orange County's Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa through June 24---is decidedly more subdued and scaled-down by comparison, allowing the songs, the story, and the cast performances to shine on their own merits instead. The resulting show is a powerful, uplifting one, bathed in a loving, spiritual embrace that shines a light on the struggles, the insecurities, the passions, and the tenacity of African-American women living in the early decades of the 20th Century. I can say without hesitation that this revival production is an excellent way to experience this beautiful, touching, and ultimately triumphant musical.BWW Review: Lively New Production of NEWSIES Carries the Banner in La Mirada June 5, 2018
Admirably directed and choreographed by Richard J. Hinds, La Mirada Theatre's NEWSIES aims to be an amiable hybrid between the popularly-received original show and a new iteration that feels fresh for us Fansies forever obsessed with the earlier Disney-backed production that played Broadway and went on tour for a few years. Filled with high-energy music and dancing and a lively, eager-to-please spirit embedded in its DNA, this brand-new Southern California regional theater production of NEWSIES---which continues performances at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts through June 24---is a wonderfully caffeinated jolt of a stage show, highlighted by a remarkably talented and athletically-blessed ensemble that leaps and belts one show stopping number after another. What a treat for every Fansie!BWW Review: South Coast Repertory Revisits Wendy Wasserstein's THE SISTERS ROSENSWEIG May 25, 2018
Despite being birthed in the early 1990's, THE SISTERS ROSENSWEIG-the late Pulitzer Prize-winning Wendy Wasserstein's acerbically witty and vibrantly poignant play about a trio of fascinating, strong-willed Jewish-American sisters-has a remarkably timeless, relatable quality, evidenced by South Coast Repertory's delightful and beautifully-acted OC revival production now continuing performances in Costa Mesa through June 2. Thanks to its naturally appealing characters that don't feel like stock archetypes trapped in a retro bubble, the play-under the keen direction of Casey Stangl-comes across as a contemporary-leaning, very thoughtful theatrical piece populated by strong, three-dimensional female characters.BWW Review: OC's Segerstrom Center Finally Becomes the Room Where HAMILTON Happens May 15, 2018
For three years, I have obsessed over the Original Broadway Cast Album of Lin-Manuel Miranda's ingeniously constructed, powerfully-rendered musical masterpiece HAMILTON, mostly because it just wasn't possible for me to see the show at its home at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York. Fast forward to Fall of 2017 and the show finally makes its long stop in Los Angeles. I snagged a ticket and it was transcendent. Fast forward again to now May 2018, and the show's second national tour has finally arrived in my back yard at OC's Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa for a three-week run through May 27. This production not only successfully reignited my love for this show, but it has also promptly solidified it as, in my humble opinion, one of the best musicals of all time. Apart from being one of the most undeniably creative stage shows ever produced for the American theater, HAMILTON is also one of the most deeply moving and shrewdly intelligent stage musicals I have ever experienced---made even better thanks to an insanely talented ensemble cast that raps, sings, and acts their way into this gripping, very American story.
All that hype? Completely justified.BWW Review: The Phantom Stages A Comeback in LOVE NEVER DIES at Segerstrom Center May 1, 2018
There are many, very obvious spectacular things that stand out while watching LOVE NEVER DIES, Andrew Lloyd Webber's infamously, uh, troubled 2010 musical follow-up to his long-running global hit THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, now continuing its two-week engagement at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa through May 5, 2018. While, sure, the show is stunning in its visual artistry and musical performances, the rest is repetitively frustrating. Unless you're a huge PHANTOM fan already or are perhaps maybe morbidly curious as to what the fuss is all about---LOVE NEVER DIES, sadly, doesn't offer much else to audiences beyond its superficial surface beauty.