Ensemble Theatre Company‘s (ETC) 38th season features the works of some of theatre’s most renowned playwrights and composers, including William Shakespeare, Neil Simon, George and Ira Gershwin, and Tennessee Williams. The fifth and final play of the season will be announced at a later date.
“The plays next season represent thrilling new challenges for the company,” says Jonathan Fox, Executive Artistic Director. “We’re opening with our first Shakespeare play in 30 years, and reimagining the classic opera Porgy and Bess in a jazz musical version. To be able to work on such complex masterpieces is a joy.”
The 2016-17 season launches with Shakespeare’s Macbeth. ETC’s first foray in decades into the works of Shakespeare arrives just in time for election season with one of literature’s great tales of blind and bloody political ambition. Fresh from victory against the invading forces of Ireland and Norway, the triumphant General Macbeth is presented with a chilling prophecy from three witches: he will ascend to the throne of Scotland despite possessing no royal blood. Uncertain of the truth behind the witches’ words, Macbeth reveals the prophecy to his wife, who immediately begins plotting her husband’s ascension to power. Spurred by his wife’s unquenchable thirst for influence and status, Macbeth murders King Duncan in his sleep, throwing the kingdom into a bloody upheaval. Macbeth’s popularity and influence on modern culture is extensive, and can be seen in everything from the wildly popular television programs House of Cards and Game of Thrones, to classic films such as Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood. Directed by Jonathan Fox, Macbeth runs from October 1-16.
For the holiday season, ETC presents Neil Simon’s heartfelt comedy, Chapter Two. Set in New York during Christmas in the 1970s, this charming and poignant semi-autobiographical story follows the coping and coupling of New York writer and recent widower George Schneider. At the advice of his brother, George begins a relationship with actress Jennie Malone, whose six-year marriage to a professional football player has recently fallen apart. Despite the obvious chemistry, the road to romance is a bumpy one for these not-so-young lovers. Audiences might recall Chapter Two from its screen adaptation, starring James Caan and Marsha Mason. Lauded as “lovely, whimsical, [and] downright hilarious.” by the New York Post, this Tony-Nominee is a wonderful treat for the holidays. Directed by Andrew Barnicle, performances run from December 3-18.
The season continues with a bold jazz interpretation of the great American musical Porgy and Bess, composed by George Gershwin, with a libretto by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin. Adapted for the Broadway stage by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog, Father Comes Home from the Wars), Porgy and Bess tells the tragic story of the love between a crippled beggar and a beautiful yet broken former cocaine addict and prostitute. Working with a live jazz quartet, the musical features beloved songs, including “Summertime” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” Directed by Jonathan Fox, Porgy and Bess runs February 11-26, 2017.
In the spring, ETC will present the seductive black comedy Baby Doll, by Tennessee Williams, based on the 1956 Golden Globe and BAFTA Award-winning film of the same name. Set in the Mississippi Delta, two rival cotton gin owners, Archie and Silva, are locked in a vicious professional competition. After he suspects Archie of burning down his cotton gin, Silva seeks his vengeance by hatching a plot to seduce Archie’s 19 year-old bride, Baby Doll. Wary of reaching adulthood and being obliged to consummate her marriage to Archie, Baby Doll clings to her childhood with naïve innocence, sleeping in a crib, wearing children’s nightgowns, and even sucking her thumb. Adapted from the movie by Emily Mann, the stage play will be directed by Jenny Sullivan, who recently helmed the much-acclaimed production of I Am My Own Wife. Baby Doll runs April 15-30, 2017.
The final show of the 2016-17 Season will be announced at a later date. Performances run June 10-25, 2017.
Founded in 1979, Ensemble Theatre is Santa Barbara’s leading professional, resident theatre company. Under the leadership of Jonathan Fox, Executive Artistic Director, Ensemble has featured accomplished artists from around the country. This will be ETC’s fourth season in its home at the New Vic, located at 33 W. Victoria St. For more information, please call the Ensemble Theatre box office at 805/965-5400, or visit etcsb.org.