While it seems everyone wants to live in Santa Barbara, it can be especially challenging for 20-somethings. One exception is hometown girl Samantha Eve, creator and artistic director of Out of the Box Theatre Co., a nonprofit organization designed to provide performing opportunities to Santa Barbara talent of all ages.
An early lover of performing arts since attending her first Broadway musical at 10 years old with her grandparents, who lived in New Jersey, and encouraged by her mother’s interest in musical theater and movies, Samantha took dance lessons with Santa Barbara Dance Arts, private voice lessons and participated in youth programs such as Showstoppers Theatre, Santa Barbara Youth Ensemble Theatre, Stage Left, Rubicon Theatre Co. and Idyllwild Arts Academy summer program.
Samantha’s goal “was always to attend a college with a solid musical theater program." That goal was achieved when she accepted a place within a conservatory-style program called CAP21 (Collaborative Arts Project 21) at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she received a bachelor of fine arts degree in drama with a strong focus in musical theater.
Samantha told me, “New York always had a special place in her heart,” but ultimately she decided to return to Santa Barbara and to bring some of the things she loved about theater in New York to Santa Barbara.
"I wanted to bring new musicals to a smaller theater space, allowing for an intimate storytelling experience and the building of wonderful relationships between performers and audience members," she said.
She wanted to produce shows that were not just entertaining, but managed to tell an interesting, thought-provoking story — challenging preconceived notions of what musical theater can be. With the loss of the Civic Light Opera, Samantha felt there was a niche left for community-based musical theater.
Out of the Box has taken on 10 fully staged musical productions since its 2012 inception. Most were Santa Barbara premiers — Reefer Madness, Hair Assassins, Evil Dead, the musical Spring Awakening, John & Jen, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Next to Normal and Carrie.
From April 3 through April 13, Out of the Box Theatre Co. will present its latest production and regional premier musical production of Bonnie and Clyde at Center Stage, an intimate black box theater with weekly performances by a variety of artists and companies located in Paseo Neuvo in the heart of Santa Barbra’s downtown cultural district.
Samantha and her team also make efforts to provide theater skills workshops between their shows, most recently featuring a cast member from the national tour of West Side Story. Although Samantha is focused on directing, she will occasionally perform whenever there is an opportunity.
Samantha also started a gourmet cupcake company called Violette Bakeshop (good for intermission snacks and beyond).
"It’s been a really wonderful process building Out of the Box Productions Theatre Company in my hometown," she said. "While we are still continuing to develop and settle in as part of the SB performing arts community, feedback from our audiences and the support from the community has encouraged us to believe we are on the right path!"
For tickets and information about Bonnie and Clyde, click here or call the Center Stage box office at 805.963.0408.