By Wendy MacLeod
December 3 – 20, 2015 • WEST COAST PREMIERE
Thelma and Louise meets The First Wives Club in this fun and flirtatious new comedy! Divorcees Mary and Jo are suspicious of their friend Liz’s new dentist boyfriend. He’s not just a weirdo; he may be a serial killer! After all, his hygienist just disappeared. Trading their wine glasses for spyglasses, imaginations run wild as the ladies try to discover the truth and save their friend in a hilarious off-road adventure. With support from The Willfong-Singh Family. Directed by Bart DeLorenzo. 2015-16 Season sponsored by The Stephen and Carla Hahn Foundation.
Annabelle Gurwitch and Heather Ayers (Photo David Bazemore)
Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) at the New Vic is excited to present the West Coast premiere of a side-splitting new comedy, Women in Jeopardy!, by Wendy MacLeod. Thelma and Louise meets The First Wives Club in this fun and flirtatious laugh-out-loud comedy, under the direction of Bart DeLorenzo and featuring comedic actress, author and columnist Annabelle Gurwitch. Filled with side-splitting laughs and a perfect recipe for holiday fun.
Divorcees Mary and Jo are suspicious of their friend Liz’s new dentist boyfriend. He’s not just a weirdo; he may be a serial killer! After all, his hygienist just disappeared. Trading their wine glasses for spyglasses, imaginations run wild as the ladies try to discover the truth and save their friend in a hilarious off-road adventure. “Modern, lively, and loads of fun,” says The Boston Globe.
HEATHER AYERS (Mary) is so excited to be back at ETC so soon! She just completed their run of Sweeney Todd & has appeared in their productions of A Little Night Music & Intimate Apparel. Heather's Broadway credits include Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever with Harry Connick Jr., & Trevor Nunn’s A Little Night Music. Off-Broadway, she has been seen in several Encores! productions, Five Course Love, Forbidden Broadway, & Sarah, Plain & Tall. Regionally, she has performed at Yale Rep, The Old Globe, Barrington Stage, St. Louis Rep, Kansas City Rep, & Cincinnati Playhouse, among others. TV credits include “Scandal,” “The Exes,” “Lights Out,” & “Z Rock." Happy Holidays!
Matthew Grondin (Trenner). Matthew is thrilled to be back at ETC, where we was previously seen as Stevie in Good People. Regional: Bad Jews (Stage West), A Moon for the Misbegotten (Rubicon Theatre), World Premiere of Shelia Callaghan’s Everything You Touch and the West Coast Premiere of Shiv (Theatre @ Boston Court). Los Angeles: Orphans (LANCT), Ah Wilderness! (Antaeus ClassicsFest), Rabbit Hole and Spinning Into Butter (Actor’s Co-op), This Is Our Youth (TAC Theater). NY: Friends Like These (Cherry Pit). Also interested in writing – his first play, Granite, was staged at Joan Scheckel’s Collective Loft. He is a member of Antaeus Theatre Company’s A2 Ensemble in LA. Huge thanks to this terrific cast and crew – and to Jonathan, Amy and Bart for having me back!
Annabelle Gurwitch (Jo). Most recently: Annabelle appeared in a theatrical adaptation directed by Mr. DeLorenzo at The Skylight Theater in Los Angeles and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival of her latest book, The New York Times Bestseller, I See You Made An Effort: compliments, indignities and survival stories from the edge of 50, which was a finalist for the James Thurber Prize for American Humor Writing 2015. Theatrical highlights: World Premiere of Donald Margulies’ A Coney Island Christmas at The Geffen Playhouse directed by Mr. DeLorenzo, The 20th Anniversary Production of Uncommon Women and Others, Off- Broadway at The Lucille Lortel, Our Lady of 121st Street, Sixteen Wounded and Adam’s Rib with L.A. TheaterWorks. She played the title role in Murray Mednick’s Joe and Betty, produced on both coasts, earned her place in "The Top Ten Performances of the Year” by critics in both The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Annabelle was the co-host of the popular "Dinner and a Movie" on TBS for seven seasons, “WA$TED” on The Planet Green Network, a Discovery Channel for three seasons, and two seasons of anchoring the award winning “Not Necessarily the News” on HBO, “Dexter,” “Boston Legal,” “Medium,” “Murphy Brown” and “Seinfeld” amongst other programs. Films: Daddy Day Care, Shaggy Dog, Melvin Goes to Dinner, It’s Us (2016). Annabelle’s other books: You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up co-written with her husband Jeff Kahn, and “Fired!” which was also a Showtime Comedy Special. Her writing appears in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, More Magazine, on NPR and in The New Yorker. She frequently tours with The Moth Radio Hour, The Jewish Book Council, and other literary salons across the country. The National Tour of I See You Made an Effort produced by Groundswell Productions hits the road for the 2016-2017, first stop, Toronto. You can keep up with her at www. annabellegurwitch.com.
DeeDee Rescher (Liz) is excited to be returning to The New Vic after her super fun run here in David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People in 2014, directed by Jenny Sullivan. Theatre credits include Steve Martin’s The Underpants, the world premiere of Richard Dresser’s The Pursuit of Happiness, Michael Hollinger’s Red Herring and her recurring celebrated solo performance of Shirley Valentine, all under the direction of Andy Barnicle at the Laguna Playhouse. Other recent stage credits: Love, Loss and What I Wore by Nora and Delia Ephron, Everybody Say Cheese by Gary Marshall, Neil Simon’s Prisoner of Second Avenue with Jason Alexander, and Lombardi by Eric Simonson. Recurring TV credits include the roles of Bryan Cranston’s wife on “The King Of Queens,” Fran Dresser’s pal Dottie in “The Nanny,” Rory’s mom on “Days Of Our Lives,” detective Joy Shulack in “The Whole Truth” and Donna in “The Comeback” with Lisa Kudrow. Most recently she has appeared on “Anger Management” with Charlie Sheen, “Back in the Game” with James Caan, TV Land’s “The Exes,” and Disney’s “Good Luck Charlie,” “Shout It Out,” “Better With You,” and “I Didn’t Do It”. Over her extensive career DeeDee has appeared on dozens of iconic television shows, including “Friends,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” “My Name is Earl,” “Frazier,” “Party of Five,” “Jamie Foxx”, “Roseanne,” “Cybill,” “Coach,” “Empty Nest,” “It Had to Be You” and “Dream On.” Favorite film credits include Skin Deep with John Ritter, Communion with Christopher Walken, Summer School with Mark Harmon and the affable bus driver in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. For more information DeeDee invites you to visit her web site: www.deedeerescher.com.
William Salyers (Jackson/Sgt. Kirk). Bill voices Rigby the raccoon on Cartoon Network’s Emmy award-winning “Regular Show” and was the voice of Reverend Putty on Adult Swim’s Moral Orel.” He is a lead voice in popular video games such as “Fallout 4,” “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” and “Mass Effect 3.” His work on screen includes the series “iCarly,” “The Ex List,” “Judging Amy” and “Northern Exposure,” as well as the films Regular Show: The Movie, Bedazzled, Book of Stars and Crocodile Tears. He has also acted in many plays for Circle X and other theaters from coast to coast, most recently playing several roles in the Ovation award-winning, The Behavior of Broadus, for the Burglars of Hamm at Sacred Fools.
Sophie Ullett (Amanda) started her career at the age of 12 doing children’s shows, Rumple Who and Wiseacre Farm, at The 13th Street Repertory Company in New York. She has been doing readings and shows with EST/LA from childhood to the present. Her first professional gig in LA, was John O’Keefe’s The Reapers at The Odyssey Theatre. She went on to do Tom Baum’s Shock Therapy at The Lillian Theatre. Her film credits include Mr. Vinegar and the Runaway. She makes the rent as a singing waitress at Miceli’s. She is now thrilled to be part of this production at Ensemble Theatre Company.
Wendy MacLeod (Playwright) Women in Jeopardy! premiered at Geva Theater and her new play Slow Food was selected for the 2015 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. Her play The House of Yes became an award-winning Miramax film and was produced throughout the United States and at The Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin and The Gate Theater in London. Her other plays include Sin (The Goodman, Second Stage), Schoolgirl Figure (The Goodman Theatre), The Water Children and Juvenilia (Playwrights Horizons), and Things Being What They Are (Seattle Repertory Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre). A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, she is the Artistic Director of the Kenyon Playwrights Conference.
Bart DeLorenzo (Director) is a Los Angeles-based theater director and the founding artistic director of the Evidence Room Theater. His recent work with the company includes Marivaux’s The False Servant, Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play, Anton Chekhov’s Ivanov, Len Jenkin’s Margo Veil, and Adam Bock’s The Receptionist, produced with the Odyssey Theater. Other recent directing includes the world premiere of Jonathan Caren’s Need to Know, Rogue Machine Theatre; the world premieres of Steven Drukman’s Death of the Author and Donald Margulies’ Coney Island Christmas, Geffen Playhouse; Sharr White’s Annapurna, The New Group (NY); Charlayne Woodard’s The Night Watcher, Studio Theatre (DC); the world premieres of Kimber Lee’s tokyo fish story, Carla Ching’s Fast Company, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Doctor Cerberus, and Donald Margulies’ Shipwrecked! An Entertainment, South Coast Repertory; Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, A Noise Within; Justin Tanner’s Day Drinkers, Odyssey, and Voice Lessons, Zephyr; Karen Zacarias’ Legacy of Light and Mark Brown’s Around the World in 80 Days at the Cleveland Play House; King Lear, Antaeus Company; Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone at SCR; Michael Sargent’s The Projectionist, Kirk Douglas Theatre; Charles Mee’s bobrauschenbergamerica, Inside the Ford; and Caryl Churchill’s A Number, Odyssey. He has participated in the development of new plays at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, SCR’s Pacific Playwrights Festival, Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival, and the Ojai Playwrights Conference. He is on the faculty at CalArts. For his work, he has received LA Weekly awards, Backstage Garlands, LA Drama Critics Circle Awards including the Milton Katselas Award for career achievement, and the Alan Schneider Director Award.
Keith Mitchell (Scenic Designer) is excited and honored to be designing his first show for ETC! Recent projects include a spinning spaceship for Oedipus Machina at the Odyssey Theatre; Carlin Home Companion at the Falcon Theatre and Fast Company, for South Coast Repertory. Keith has designed for most Southland venues including The Hollywood Bowl, Disney Hall/LA Philharmonic, Geffen Playhouse, A Noise Within, Kirk Douglas Theatre, Odyssey, The Getty Villa, 24th Street and even Venice Beach. He has over 20 shows under his belt for Garry Marshall’s Falcon Theatre, including Happy Days, and The Value of Names, with the late Jack Klugman, a 2007 Ovation Award winner for Scenic Design. Keith is an Emmy Award winning Art Director. His work includes advertising campaigns for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, Nissan, Got Milk, Kay Jewelers, and such network shows as “American Horror Story,” “The Voice” and “The Tonight Show” starring Jimmy Fallon. He is a graduate of USC, Annenberg.
Pablo Santiago (Lighting Designer) Pablo is happy to return to the New Vic and ETC in Santa Barbara where he previously worked on Woyzeck. Pablo is the Winner of the Stage Raw Award 2015 for Best Lighting Design for his work on The Brothers Size (Fountain Theater). Pablo has been nominated for the Ovation Award and for LA Weekly Award. Pablo’s designs have been seen at LATC, ODC in San Francisco, Teatro Brava, Su Teatro in Denver, Fountain Theater, The Road Theater, COC Performing Arts Center among others. Recently, he collaborated with the LA Phil as part of their Green Umbrella Project and Amor Brujo, with Gustavo Dudamel (conductor) and Siudy Garrido (choreographer) at Disney Hall, La Olla (the LTC at Getty Villa), Destiny of Desire at Arena Stage In Washington DC and the ongoing installation Pearls of the Planet, at the Annenberg Space for Photography for Explore.org. Upcoming projects include: Breaking The Waves (Opera) at the Pearlman Theater for OperaPhila. Instagram: @pablosdesign
Dianne K. Graebner (Costume Designer) is happy to be back at Ensemble Theatre Company, having previously designed Sweeney Todd, Amadeus, Intimate Apparel, Red, Opus and many others. Recent credits include: Ay, Carmela! Stella Adler Theatre Co. (Set-Frank Gehry, music-Gustavo Dudamel), Best of Enemies, Breath & Imagination (NAACP nomination) and The Fabulous Lipitones at the Colony Theatre, The Brothers Karamazov (Ovation nomination) and Battle Hymn (L.A. Weekly nomination) ICU, Eurydice, The Flu Season at CircleX Theatre, Breath & Imagination at Virginia Stage Co., Dying City (Ovation production of the year) and the New Electric Ballroom at Rogue Machine Theatre Co., Dogeaters and Clay at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, opening & closing weekends 365 days/ 365 plays for Center Theatre Group, Bright Light City at LATC, the original production of Philosophy of the World, The Shaggs and has originated the costumes for many new works and world premieres. She is a member of United Scenic Artists Local-829. www.diannegraebner.com
Aleah Van Woert (Stage Manager) is pleased to be stage managing her fourth season with ETC. Previous credits include Black Pearl Sings!, Crime and Punishment, Bell, Book and Candle, The Liar, The Year of Magical Thinking, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, A Little Night Music, Good People, Metamorphoses, Red, Looped, Amadeus, The Best Brothers, Intimate Apparel, Woyzeck, Venus in Fur and Sweeney Todd. A resident of Santa Barbara for ten years, she has also stage managed over 20 shows for PCPA Theaterfest in Santa Maria and Solvang, including All My Sons, Hairspray, Caroline or Change, Pride and Prejudice, Peter Pan, Songs for a New World, Curtains, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Heart’s Desire, Art, and The Importance of Being Earnest. Originally from Fallon, Nevada, she graduated in 2003 from Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre Arts, emphasis in Stage Management.
Avery Wheeler (Sound Design) has worked with Ensemble Theatre Company as resident sound engineer for Venus in Fur, Woyzeck, Intimate Apparel, The Best Brothers, Amadeus, Looped, Red, Metamorphoses, and Good People. A graduate of Musician’s Institute Hollywood, Avery was previously Assistant Engineer at Santa Barbara’s Playback Recording Studio, where he engineered audio for short films, music, national advertising campaigns, and television.
Jonathan Fox (Executive Artistic Director) joined ETC in 2006. He directed ETC’s productions of Sweeney Todd, Woyzeck, Amadeus, Metamorphoses, A Little Night Music, The Liar, Crime and Punishment, and a dozen others. He directed Opera Santa Barbara’s production of The Consul at the Granada Theatre. He recently collaborated with the Santa Barbara Symphony on their Midsummer Night’s Dream concert. In April, he will direct ETC’s production of Bad Jews, which will then travel to Germany for the play’s German premiere. Other European productions include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, A Streetcar Named Desire, Visiting Mr. Green and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the English Theatre of Frankfurt, and Old Wicked Songs, Crimes of the Heart, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Vienna English Theatre. Before joining ETC, Mr. Fox spent 12 years with Two River Theater Company in New Jersey, which he helped establish in 1994. He served as managing director of the company from 1994-99, and subsequently became its artistic director. For Two River, he directed over a dozen acclaimed productions. His production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was profiled in American Theatre Magazine, as was his festival of work by Samuel Beckett. His directing work has been seen in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Cologne, and has received critical acclaim in The New York Times, Variety, the LA Times, and other publications. He received his MFA from Columbia University, and is a recipient of the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellowship. He has served as an adjunct faculty member in theatre departments at UCSB, Columbia University, University of Utah, and Monmouth University.
Anna Jensen (Dramaturg) happily returns to Ensemble after serving as Dramaturg for Sweeney Todd, Venus in Fur, Woyzeck, Intimate Apparel, The Best Brothers, Amadeus, Looped, Red, Metamorphoses, Good People, A Little Night Music, Creditors, Crime and Punishment, and The Liar. In March of 2013, Austin College in Texas produced her new translation and adaptation of When We Dead Awaken by Henrik Ibsen. She has her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, where she majored in Rhetoric, focusing on the rhetoric of historical discourse. Her master’s degree was from UC Santa Barbara, where she wrote on the playwright August Strindberg’s dramas as interpreted by the film and stage director Ingmar Bergman. Her dissertation research, also at UC Santa Barbara, considers how Norse Saga material was instrumental to Henrik Ibsen’s dramaturgy. She teaches full-time in Santa Barbara at the Brooks Institute.
Amy Lieberman, CSA (Casting) has worked with Ensemble Theatre Company for eight seasons. The recipient of six CSA Artios Awards, with a total of twelve nominations. Broadway: The Dinner Party, Flower Drum Song, Big River. Recent Past: Reprise Theatre Company for three seasons. Center Theatre Group (Mark Taper Forum/Ahmanson/Kirk Douglas) 1999–2006, 1983-1989. Many regional theatres throughout the states as well as locally. L.A. TheatreWorks, Pasadena Playhouse, Ojai Playwrights Conference, The Granada, KCRW, Sundance Theatre Lab, Deaf West, Theatre@Boston Court, Falcon Theatre, Hollywood Theatre of the Ear. Film and television throughout the 90’s. Visiting Assoc. Prof. UCLA- MFA 3rd yr. graduate program 2007-2013.
Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) was founded in 1913 as the first of the American actor unions. Equity’s mission is to advance, promote and foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of our society. Today, Equity represents more than 45,000 actors, singers, dancers and stage managers working in hundreds of theatres across the United States. Equity members are dedicated to working in the theatre as a profession, upholding the highest artistic standards. Equity negotiates wages and working conditions and provides a wide range of benefits including health and pension plans for its members. Through its agreement with Equity, this theatre has committed to the fair treatment of the actors and stage managers employed in this production. AEA is a member of the AFL-CIO and is affiliated with FIA, an international organization of performing arts unions. For more information, visit www.actorsequity.org
- Book Club, December 9, 2015, 5:30 - 6:30pm: Scripts are now available for checkout at the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 East Anapamu Street. Join other theatregoers for a lively discussion about the play from a literary and dramatic perspective. FREE!
- Pre-Show Talk, December 9 & 16, 2015 at 7:15 pm: Join us in the courtyard of The New Vic for an informative and insightful discussion about the play before you see it, sure to enhance your theatrical experience.
- Martini Night, December 11, 2015 at 7:15pm, performance at 8:00pm: Free to ticket holders. Come early to enjoy a complimentary martini and mingle before the show.
- Talk Back, December 17, 2015: Meet the cast after the show and discuss the production.
Playwright Wendy MacLeod on Women and Comedy
Anna Jensen: Why do we need more women writing for the stage?
Wendy MacLeod (playwright): I remember I was having coffee with a literary manager and he was talking about how there were no comedies written by women, and I’m sitting across the table from him and I’m thinking, “I have comedies. If you’re looking for–” I mean it was kind of a surreal moment. “How can you say that to me, a woman who writes comedies?” So, this idea that people can’t find plays written by women or they can’t find comedies written by women, I think it just means they’re not looking hard enough because I know in my teaching, I have some tremendously gifted young women writers. And I think there’s a little bit of a particular bias about women in comedy, that people think women are less funny than men but it’s possible that women find different things funny for men. I think it’s important that we do plays by women because most theater subscribers are women, for one thing, and they want to see their stories told.
AJ: There also seems to be something that dogs women, in the sense that plays by men “universally address the audience,” whereas plays by women “only speak to the women in the audience”—that somehow there’s something more particular or specific about women writing comedy or even tragedy. So, how do you see this play in that polarity?
WM: Well, I remember reading an astonishing statistic that it was something like 85% of the women on the screen are between the ages of 18 and 34. And if you see a woman older than that, she is somebody’s mother, possibly somebody’s wife. And so, what I’m interested in is having the women characters be the agents of the action, that they’re not appendages to a story, they are the story. And even if you look at the cast distribution, the play is four women and two men, that’s the inversion of most cast sizes. So, I’m not saying it’s a politically important play but I just think the act of putting women at the center of a story and seeing them trying to solve a problem [is important]. In some ways romances are the obstacles as opposed to the goal in this play, and as it ends, although it appears to be about somebody’s bad love relationship, it’s really about the long-term friendship among these three women and how they negotiate that when somebody suddenly has fallen in love and makes that their priority.
AJ: And we see that happening all the time to our friends, especially where you think, “Wow, this is a really bad choice you’re making?” And you’ve taken that paradigm to a funny, farcical extreme. “You might be dating a serial killer and you’re sending your teenage daughter off to go camping with him.”
WM: It’s a really bad choice.
‘Women in Jeopardy!’ Ensemble Theatre presents the West Coast premiere of its new comedy. (Santa Barbar Independent)