Feb. 7–24, the Ensemble Theater Company (ETC) will offer its new production, in the New Vic Theater, 33 W. Victoria St., of Arthur Miller‘s Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play Death of a Salesman (1949), with Henry Woronicz as Willy Loman, and a cast that includes Gigi Bermingham, Michael Bernard, Jenn Chandler, John P. Connolly, Alex Nee, Trevor Peterson, Sergi Robles, Paul Sandberg and Sarah Saviano.

The production is directed by Joe Hanreddy, with scenic design by Se Hyun Oh, costumes by Dianne K. Graebner, and lighting by Jean-Yves Tessier. The original music, which will be performed live, was composed and produced by Barry G. Funderburg, who also served as sound designer.

Historically, only plays that chronicled the death of a king were worthy of the name “tragedy.”

It was one of Arthur Miller’s greatest services to theater to have wrested tragedy from the royal domain and applied it to the stories of ordinary people, as subject to emotional storms and destructive obsessions as the great of this world, but whose dramas play out beneath the radar of the public’s attention.

Speaking of another of his great plays, A View From the Bridge (1955), Miller observed that a key feature of tragedy is betrayal, but that the essence of a drama, what makes it a tragedy, in his view, is that the audience member wants to pull the protagonist aside and warn him of his impending destruction at the hands of fate.

In Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman is reaching the end of his rope. He feels that his one great gift — what sets him apart from his contemporaries — that is, his ability to sell, is slipping away from him.

His world has begun to disintegrate, and there seems to be no way for him to stop it, or even slow it down. When we first meet Willy, he has already passed the point of no return. His last few hours, full of fear and desperation, are an indelible chapter in American drama.

Miller’s politics, like his heart, were on the left, but Death of a Salesman is neither a critique of capitalism nor a call to arms for the masses. It is the story of one individual — Walt Whitman’s “single, separate person” — and the choices he made.

I have seen productions in which Willy was played by Frederic March, by Lee J. Cobb and by Dustin Hoffmann, and each was totally convincing, yet different from the others. Willy is one of the essential characters of the American Theater.

Single tickets to Death of a Salesman are $25-$45. For tickets, performances times and dates, and other information, call 805-965-5400, or visit https://store.ensembletheatre.com/.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at gerald.carpenter@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are his own.