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Ensemble Theatre Company Announces 2008-09 Lineup

The season, which will begin in September, will feature five American plays.

Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara, under the artistic direction of Jonathan Fox, announced its upcoming season of five plays, to run from September 2008 through June 2009.

The season, made up entirely of American work, is a blend of Broadway and off-Broadway hits, exciting new plays, a return of an American classic and — in a rare departure for ETC — a new musical.

The season will open with Richard Greenberg’s 2003 Tony-Award winning dramatic comedy, Take Me Out, Sept. 25 to Oct. 19. Darren Lemming is a black baseball player who is handsome, charismatic, an extraordinary athlete … and gay. The public announcement of his sexuality throws his team into turmoil, engendering surprising — and tragic — consequences.

Richard Greenberg is one of America’s most prolific and successful contemporary playwrights, with several Broadway hits to his name, including Eastern Standard and Three Days of Rain. Take Me Out has Greenberg’s intellectual and verbal wit, and touches on issues of sexuality, race, class, hero-worship and the great symbol of American culture: baseball.

In December, ETC will present a new holiday musical, Striking 12, from Dec. 4-28. It is an off-Broadway hit and was nominated for the 2007 Lucille Lortel award for Outstanding Musical. Developed by the New York-based rock band Groovelily, Striking 12 is an urban answer to holiday sugar overload, a story of a grumpy New Yorker who resolves to spend New Year’s Eve alone, and in the process dreams up a musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl.

The season continues with Sam Shepard’s masterpiece, Buried Child, from Jan. 29 to Feb. 22. Winner of the 1979 Pulitzer Prize, this darkly comic story of a family coming apart at the seams catapulted Sam Shepard to national fame. After spending several years in Los Angeles, Vince and his girlfriend pay a visit to his family in Illinois. No one seems to recognize him, and he discovers that all is not right with this Norman Rockwellian scene.

From March 26 to April 19, ETC will present a beautiful and uplifting play, In The Continuum, a tale of two women, continents apart, whose lives parallel each other. Two actresses play several characters in each woman’s personal and journey, as they encounter cultural bias and inner strength. The New York Times called the play “humanized with emotional vibrancy” and named it one of the 10 best plays of 2005.

ETC will close its season with a new urban comedy, Theresa Rebeck’s The Scene, from May 28 to June 21. Charlie, an ex-TV sitcom star, finds himself in the throes of a midlife crisis. His marriage is tense, and he’s been uncomfortably unemployed for quite some time. When he meets Clea — a 25-year-old sexpot who makes up with vitality what she lacks in polish — his world is upended. Filled with Rebeck’s caustic wit and with intriguing turns of plot, The Scene is brutally hilarious and surprising.

“I’m delighted to bring such fun and provocative plays to Santa Barbara,” Fox said. “Each play is thoughtful, intelligently written and entertaining.”

ETC is Santa Barbara’s longest-running, most award-winning professional resident theater company. 2008-09 will be its 29th season.

Four- and five-play subscriptions are available and range from $106 to $190. For more information, click here or call the Ensemble Theatre box office at 805.965.5400.

James Breen represents the Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara.

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