Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald

Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) at the New Vic, a professional, resident theater company in Santa Barbara, has named Brian McDonald its new director of education and outreach, addng to its expanding staff of theater professionals.

McDonald brings his resume of screen, stage, and teaching experience to the helm of ETC’s Young Actors Conservatory, which offers advanced performance training for ages 14-18 under the direction of professional theater artists.

This year’s program will also feature intimate seminars with acclaimed actors, including:

Five-time Emmy Award nominee Meredith Baxter (Family, Family Ties, ETC’s City of Conversation); Emmy Award and Ovation Awards winner Joe Spano (Hill Street Blues, NCIS); Tony-nominated, and Emmy Award and Golden Globe winners Cheri and Bill Steinkellner (Sister Act The Musical, Cheers, Teacher’s Pet).

The program runs Mondays-Fridays, July 10-27. Tuition is $999 with scholarships available.

McDonald served as associate artistic director and the director of education and outreach at Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura for 16 years.

He was the founder and program director of Rubicon’s Summer Youth Performance Program, which offers theater training intensives in acting, musical theater, drama, Shakespeare and technical theater.

“The benefits for any child who participates in a quality creative arts program have proven to be of value in one’s overall psychological, physical, social and cognitive development,” McDonald said.

“ETC’s Young Actors Conservatory offers a strong foundation of theater training for young thespians seeking to pursue a career in the performing arts. I look forward to expanding on the great work at ETC and to serving this vibrant arts community,” he said.

“Developing a professional program for students has been one of our long-term goals,” said Jonathan Fox, artistic director.

“Our Young Actors Conservatory will offer high school students a unique opportunity to work in a professional theater alongside accomplished theater artists,” Fox said.

“Brian’s extensive experience as an actor and educator are a true asset to this project, and we’re ecstatic to welcome him to the ETC team,” he said.

An award-winning actor, director and educator, McDonald has appeared in the national tours of Miss Saigon and Forever Plaid.

Regionally, he appeared at the Denver Center, Theatre Virginia, The Lyric Stage, La Miranda Performing Arts Center, Ensemble Theatre Company, Pasadena Playhouse, Thousand Oaks Performing Arts Center, and the Ahmanson.

As an actor, McDonald was honored with the Ventura Mayors’ Award for Emerging Artist, LA Weekly’s Best Supporting Actor Award, and an Independent Award for his most recent performance in the one-man-show, Buyer and Cellar.

He has directed for regional theaters including Seven Angels Theatre, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and Rubicon. For Rubicon, he directed the world premiere adaptation, A Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, A Tuna Christmas, The Sunset Limited, and Bus Stop.

His work as a director has earned him an Independent Award and StageScene LA Award for Best Director.

ETC’s Young Actors Conservatory will provide three weeks of hands-on training with master actors and theater artists. The curriculum focuses on principles of acting, movement, voice, improv, mask-work, audition techniques, Shakespeare, and other key theater training elements.

“With a generous gift from Virginia Castagnola-Hunter, earmarked specifically for ETC’s education outreach programming, ETC will make a lasting impact in the lives of young theater artists through the Young Actors Conservatory,” said Jill Seltzer, ETC’s managing director.

For more information on the Young Actors’ Conservatory, visit or call McDonald, 805-512-5223.

— Sylvia Zhang for Ensemble Theatre.