Ensemble Theatre Company Presents a New Stage Adaptation of
Tennessee Williams’ Baby Doll, based on the 1956
Golden Globe-Award Winning Dark Comedy
Santa Barbara, CA – Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC)’s critically acclaimed 2016-17 Season continues with the steamy and sensual dark comedy, Baby Doll, by Tennessee Williams, adapted for the stage by Pierre Laville and Emily Mann. Based on the 1956 Golden Globe and BAFTA Award-winning film of the same name, this rare Tennessee Williams gem runs April 13 through 30, 2017. The production is directed by Jenny Sullivan, who returns to ETC following her much lauded production of I Am My Own Wife.
Set in the Mississippi Delta in the 1950s, Baby Doll follows two rival cotton gin owners, Archie and Silva, who 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. Trying to avoid 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. As Baby Doll’s resistance to Silva’s advances waver, she sheds her childlike persona and confronts her abusive, alcoholic husband.
Lauded by NJ.com as "stunning [and] rife with suppressed burning desires, and dangerous manipulation," ETC’s production of Baby Doll presents a rare opportunity to see a live version of one of Williams’ lesser known, but dramatically brilliant, works.
The controversial film, directed by Elia Kazan, was a major event in cinema in the United States and abroad, and helped launch the storied career of Carroll Baker. While the critically acclaimed film received a total of 14 Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Writers Guild nominations, successful protests and boycotts of the film were organized by the Catholic Legion of Decency and other organizations due to the film’s sexual undertones. Despite these protests, Baby Doll remains a classic, albeit controversial, work of American cinema.
“Although the film has been with us for decades, this brand new adaptation provides a fresh new experience,” said Jonathan Fox, ETC’s artistic director. “The play pulsates with twisted humor and sensuality. I’m delighted to present it with such a talented group of artists.”
Director Jenny Sullivan’s previous ETC credits have been met with much critical acclaim. Her recent direction of I Am My Own Wife was hailed as the must-see show of the season by the Montecito Journal. Her other ETC productions include Good People, The Mystery of Irma Vep, and The Lion in Winter. Her critically acclaimed production of Simon Wiesenthal Nazi Hunter garnered an LADCC award and received three Ovation nominations.
The cast of Baby Doll features four new faces to the ETC stage, including Lily Nicksay as Baby Doll, Asher Grodman as Silva, Shawn Law as Archie, and Wendy Phillips as Aunt Rose.
Ms. Nicksay (Baby Doll) is likely best known for originating the role of Morgan Matthews in the long-running ABC television show “Boy Meets World,” and for reprising the role for the Disney Channel show “Girl Meets World.” Most recently, she has starred in The Nibroc Trilogy at the Rubicon Theatre. Other theater credits include The Wild Duck at A Noise Within (Ovation Nomination - Best Featured Actress), and A Singular They at The Blank Theatre (StageSceneLA Award – Best Performance, LADCC Special Award – Outstanding World Premiere).
Asher Grodman (Silva) has worked extensively in regional theater, most recently playing the title role in Amadeus at South Coast Rep. Other regional credits include world premiere productions of Pride and Prejudice at Center Stage, and The Dodgers, A Christmas Carol, and Napoli at The American Conservatory Theater. His Off-Broadway credits include Art****ers (DR2/Theater for a New City) and The Disappearance of Jonah. Mr. Grodman is also the writer/director/producer of the award-winning short film, The Train, starring Academy Award Winner Eli Wallach (who originated the role of Silva in the film version of Baby Doll.)
Shawn Law (Archie) was recently seen as Don In Rapture, Blister, Burn at San Diego Repertory Theatre, and has supported and starred in dozens of productions on such stages as Seattle Repertory Theatre, Intiman, ACT, Seattle Shakespeare Company, and Book-It Repertory.
In a career spanning more than forty years, Wendy Phillips (Rose Comfort) has starred in seven television series, including the Emmy Award-winning “A Year in the Life,” “Homefront,” “The Robert Guillaume Show,” “Falcon Crest,” and "Promised Land." In feature films, she played Robert DeNiro's ex-wife in Midnight Run, Warren Beatty's wife in Bugsy, and tossed quips in Airplane 2. For HBO, Wendy played a recurring sister-wife on the long running polygamist drama “Big Love,” with the late Bill Paxton.
The design team for Baby Doll includes Scenic Designer Sara Ryung Clement, Costume Designer Alex Jaeger, Lighting Designer Jared A. Sayeg, and Sound Designer Randall Robert Tico.
Playwright Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) is widely regarded as one of America’s greatest playwrights. With a collection of plays, stories, and screenplays set almost exclusively in the South, he drew heavily on his family experiences in his writings. When The Glass Menagerie hit Broadway in 1945, it revolutionized American theater. A Streetcar Named Desire, The Night of the Iguana, and Cat on a Hot Time Roof are some of his other notable masterpieces.
ETC’s 2016-17 Season has been generously sponsored by The Stephen and Carla Hahn Foundation. ETC’s production of Baby Doll is sponsored by Ceil and Michael Pulitzer.
Founded in 1979, Ensemble Theatre Company is Santa Barbara’s leading professional, resident theatre company. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Jonathan Fox and Managing Director Jill Seltzer, ETC has attracted accomplished performing artists from around the country. The 2016-17 Season launched in September at the New Vic, ETC’s newly renovated 294-seat performing arts venue, with the critically acclaimed productions of Macbeth, Chapter Two, and The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. The season closes with Syncopation, by Allan Knee, playing June 8 – 25.
Performances for Baby Doll run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 2:00 and 7:00 pm, with a Saturday 4:00 pm matinee performance on April 22 and a Tuesday 7:00 pm show on April 18. Youth tickets are available for age 29-and-under for only $20.00 each. Single tickets are available through the ETC box office at (805) 965-5400, or online at etcsb.org. For group sales information, please call (805) 965-5400. The New Vic is located at 33 W. Victoria Street, Santa Barbara CA, 93101.
AUTHOR: Screenplay by Tennessee Williams
Adapted for the stage by Pierre Laville and Emily Mann
DIRECTED BY: Jenny Sullivan
THEATER: The New Vic, 33 West Victoria Street
DATES: April 13 – 30, 2017
DESCRIPTION: In the spring, ETC will present the steamy and sensual dark 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.