Broadway performers Kirby and Beverly Ward dance against a white backdrop.
Kirby and Beverly Ward are among the Broadway stars who will be performing at the Play It Forward benefit. Credit: Courtesy photo

Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC), Santa Barbara’s resident theater company, will present Play It Forward a benefit concert featuring current and former ETC students alongside six renowned Broadway stars.

The event will raise funds for ETC’s education and outreach initiatives, including their Young Playwrights Festival, Young Actors Conservatory, and student matinees, which serve junior and senior high school students across the county.

Taking place at The New Vic, 33 W. Victoria St., on Sunday, Aug. 6, the evening will be a celebration of the arts. The festivities begin with a champagne reception at 6 p.m., followed by the concert at 7 p.m.

A four-piece band, led by John Enrico Douglas, will take the audience on a journey spanning various genres, including pop, musical theater, and jazz.

The lineup of local student performers includes Cassidy Broderick, McKenna Gemberling, Hunter Hawkins, Beck Mortensen, and Jett Mortensen.

Sharing the stage with the students are Broadway performers Joan Almedilla (“Miss Saigon,” “The King and I,” “Les Misérables”); David Burnham (“Wicked,” “The Light in the Piazza,” “Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”); Deedee Magno Hall (“Miss Saigon,” “Wicked,” “If/Then”); Jen Paz (“Miss Saigon,” “Les Misérables,” “Flower Drum Song”); Beverly Ward (“Anastasia,” “Showboat,” “Crazy for You,”), and Kirby Ward (“Never Gonna Dance,” Showboat,” “Crazy for You”).

“I am thrilled about this year’s event,” said Brian McDonald, ETC’s artistic associate and director of education. “The talent showcased on The New Vic stage, featuring our Broadway veterans and exceptional ETC students, is bound to leave the audience spellbound.

“Even though the pandemic recovery has been tough, we are on the mend and looking forward to continuing to offer a safe space for students to explore their creativity, hone their skills, and engage with critical social issues through theater.

“By supporting and promoting accessible theater education and opportunities for all, you help us foster vital programs that celebrate inclusivity, empathy, and understanding within our communities,” he said.

“ETC considers its education initiatives to be a vital part of our community and a means to foster our future generation of theatergoers and practitioners,” said ETC’s executive director Scott DeVine. “I am delighted that so many incredible performers are showing their support by participating in Play it Forward and thrilled to showcase the work of these talented students.”

Tickets for the evening are available at $45 for reserved seating and $60 for premium reserved seating. For tickets, visit or call the box office, 805-965-5400, 1-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

Those unable to attend may support by donating toward ETC’s education programs online at

For more about Ensemble Theatre Company, visit