Originally from Saigon, Oanh and his family came to the United States in the ‘70s. Spending most of his formative years in Orange County, it was at Anaheim High School where he first discovered theater.
Along with many other arts cuts in the schools in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the AHS theater arts program was cut his senior year. With no teacher or funding, Oanh single-handedly ran a student drama program and led his peers to win numerous high school theater festival awards. The students called their organization “Theater of Chance.”
Even after graduating, his ties to Anaheim High stayed strong and Oanh became a teacher at his alma mater. Through this experience, Oanh decided to launch his own professional company – “Spare Change Productions” in 1997.
Two years later, The Chance Theater in Anaheim Hills was launched and is now in their 10th season, growing the theater into a well-respected, award-winning Off-Broadway Theater in Orange County.
With a 25-member team, The Chance produces everything from mainstream musicals and comedies to world premieres and challenging topics. Under Oanh’s artistic leadership and direction, The Chance was recently named Outstanding Arts Organization from Arts Orange County,
His career also includes working as a director for several local theater companies such as the Laguna Playhouse, South Coast Repertory and East West Players in Los Angeles. As an actor, Oanh has appeared in several films, TV shows and commercials, most notably in the action-comedy Rush Hour 3 with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. He also co-starred in the family film Two Brothers with Guy Pierce and Freddy Highmore.
Oanh’s talents have been widely recognized. He was presented the Outstanding Artist Award by Arts Orange County and is a recipient of the TCG Nathan Cummings Young Leaders of Color fellowship.
His credits include directing the staged reading of The Happy Ones by Julie Marie Myatt at South Coast Repertory, and as associate director of the play’s world premiere at SCR. He also recently directed the staged reading of Year Zero by Michael Golamco at East West Players and serve as the assistant director of An Empty Plate in the Café du Boeuf at Laguna Playhouse.
At The Chance, he directed the professional premiere of The Girl, The Grouch, The Goat by Tony Award-winner Mark Hollmann. Other directing credits include: Three Days of Rain (O.C. Register’s Top Ten of 2002 and Best Directors of 2002); Bash, Lee Miller: The Angel and The Fiend (commissioned by the Getty Museum); Goodnight Children Everywhere (Nominated for 6 O.C. Weekly Awards, including Best Production and Best Director); Tape, Closer Than Ever (L.A. Times Critic’s Choice); Porcelain (2006 GLAAD Media Award Nomination – Outstanding L.A. Production, Back Stage Critic’s Pick, O.C. Register’s Top Ten of 2005, nominated for three O.C. Weekly awards, including best Production and best director).
Oanh Nguyen is an outstanding example of the level of artistic accomplishment that inspires other theater professionals today and in the future. He has provided a creatively innovative “proving ground” for a company of actors, directors, designers and technical staff that proudly comprise The Chance Theater Repertory Co. To read more about the theater and its company, visit www.chancetheater.com.
And he’s is still giving back to Anaheim High through summer youth workshops and currently serves on the board of the school’s new Anaheim Performing Arts Conservatory.