BWW Interview: Jerome Elliott of Desert Ensemble Theatre Company on the Season Opening Gala
Desert Ensemble Theatre Company's (DETC's) ninth season gets underway on October 25th and 26th with its signature season opening a benefit for the company's theatre internship program and scholarship fund. The first performance is a gala event featuring hors d'oeuvres, wine and desserts.
Conceived and directed by DETC Artistic Director Jerome Elliott, the season nine revue is entitled ON THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, and features songs from musical theatre written in the past 20 years. The cast includes Jaci Davis, Leanna Rodgers, Michael Pacas and Jacob Samples, with music direction by Constance Gordy and choreography by Doug Graham.
Since DETC's inception in 2011, the company has awarded more than $10,000 in scholarship support; last season, DETC provided five students with a record $3,250 in scholarships. DETC has won numerous Desert Theatre League awards, including five for 2018, which were awarded this past week. Its season openers have received thirteen awards since 2014, when the revues began.
Broadway World recently conducted an interview by email with Mr. Elliott, regarding the upcoming season.
Broadway World: This is your second season as artistic director. Are there any changes that you'd like to tell the readers about?
Jerome Elliott: In our ninth season at Desert Ensemble Theatre Company, we are building on the legacy of our founder and Artistic Director Emeritus Tony Padilla by producing intimate and engrossing plays that shine light on important social issues and the complexities of human interaction. My role as Artistic Director is to continue that good work. Since our founding, we have produced at least one new script each season, plus many newer plays that have only been seen Off- or Off-Off Broadway. We thrive on introducing Desert audiences to the new and unexpected.
BWW: How did you go about selecting this season's productions?
JE: Executive Director Shawn Abramowitz and I researched dozens of plays, and we also received many unsolicited scripts from playwrights around the country. It was gratifying to know that after eight years playwrights are taking note of DETC's track record of producing new work. We narrowed it down to those plays that literally jumped off the page.
BWW: What particularly excites you about this season's productions?
JE: This year we have a major world premiere and two plays never before seen in Southern California.
ADOPTION ROULETTE, a world premiere by Elizabeth Fuller and Joel Vig, is a timely story about the corrupt Russian adoption system and the toll it took on Americans seeking to give a Russian child a home in the early years of the 21st Century. It is based on Fuller's true story; at times hopeful, at times horrifying, it is an edge-of-the-seat thriller.
HOW TO SURVIVE AN APOCALYPSE, by Jordan Hall, originated in Vancouver, BC. It is a razor sharp dark comedy about a successful Millennial couple that faces job loss and economic upheaval and sees their carefree and indulgent lifestyle swept away. We watch them try to develop survival skills and adapt to life without credit cards and Sunday brunch.
MAN & WIFE, by Emma Goldman-Sherman, comes to us from the 29th Street Playwrights Collective in New York. This stylized social satire begins just prior to the 2016 election, with Ron and Missy as ornaments atop their own wedding cake. Over the next 25 years they learn that they are polar political opposites while they negotiate personal challenges and a rapidly evolving America.
All productions are at the Pearl McManus Theatre in the Palm Springs Woman's Club, 314 S. Cahuilla Rd., Palm Springs. For more information, call (760) 565-2476, email DETCTheatre@gmail.com, or consult www.detctheatre.org.