EMMA Comes to The Theatre Group at SBCC

Performances will be October 11-28, 2023 in the Garvin Theatre on SBCC’s West Campus.

By: Sep. 28, 2023
EMMA Comes to The Theatre Group at SBCC

As the second offering in the 23-24 season, The Theatre Group at SBCC will present the charming classic, EMMA by Kate Hamill, based on the novel by Jane Austen, Directed by Katie Laris, October 11-28, 2023 in the Garvin Theatre.


Based on Jane Austen’s novel of the same name, Emma tells the story of a charming, witty and independent-minded woman who believes that her greatest talent is as a matchmaker. Her well-meaning but misguided attempts to pair off her friends and neighbors end up in chaos and comedy as she comes to discover that well beyond misunderstanding the hearts of those around her, she may not even understand her own.  Adapted by Kate Hamill, this Emma provides fast-paced action and a fresh feminist take on a treasured classic, breaking down conventions, expectations, and even the fourth wall with vibrant comedic flair—leading audiences “forward, onward, and upward!”


Kate Hamill (Playwright) Originally from the farms and fields of upstate New York, Kate is an award-winning NYC-based actor/playwright. She is deeply passionate about creating new feminist, female-centered classics, both in new plays and in adaptation: stories that center around complicated women. Her work as a playwright celebrates theatricality, often features absurdity, and closely examines social and gender issues - as well as the timeless struggle to reconcile conscience / identity with social pressures. As an actor, she tends to play truth-tellers, oddballs, and misfits.

Kate was named 2017's Playwright of the Year by the Wall Street Journal. She has been one of the 10 most-produced playwrights in the country, 3 seasons running (2017-2020); in both 2017-2018 and 2018-2019, she wrote two of the top 10 most produced plays in the U.S.; many of her plays have been produced internationally. 4 world premieres in 2019/2020: Dracula at Classic Stage Company, Emma at the Guthrie, Prostitute Play at Cygnet Theater, and Scarlet Letter at South Coast Rep. Her previously-produced plays include Sense and Sensibility (Bedlam; in which she originated the role of Marianne) - Winner, Off-Broadway Alliance Award; Nominee, Drama League Award; 265+ performances off-Broadway; "Top Ten Theater of 2014" - Ben Brantley; "the greatest stage adaptation of this novel in history” - Huffington Post. Other plays include Vanity Fair (The Pearl; in which she originated the role of Becky Sharp; Nominee, Off Broadway Alliance Award; WSJ Critic's Pick), Pride and Prejudice (Primary Stages / HVSF; in which she originated the role of Lizzy Bennet; Nominee, Off Broadway Alliance Award; "Best Theater of 2017", Huffington Post; WSJ Critic's Pick), Little Women, Mansfield Park (originated role of Mary Crawford), and Dracula (Classic Stage Company; originated role of Renfield; WSJ Critic’s Pick.)

Her plays have been produced off-Broadway, at A.R.T., Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Guthrie Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Seattle Rep, PlayMaker’s Rep, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Dallas Theater Center, Folger Theatre (8 Helen Hayes Award nominations; Winner, best production) & more. Kate’s Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Vanity Fair, and Little Women are published by DPS. She is currently working on an adaptation of The Odyssey (commissioned by A.R.T.) as well as several new original plays - including Love Poem, In The Mines (Sundance Semi-Finalist; now collaborating with The Bengsons on this piece), Em (Red Bull New Play finalist), the Prostitute Play (O'Neill Semi-Finalist), and The Piper (O’Neill Finalist, PlayPenn Haas Fellow play).


Emma will feature:  Anikka Abbott, Robert Allen, Clayton Barry, Lexie Brent, Rachel Brown, Mario Guerrero, Luke Hamilton, Lana Kanen, Jenna Scanlon, Sue Smiley, Van Riker and Grace Wilson.

ANIKKA ABBOTT (Jane) is the Chief Weather Forecaster for News Channel 3-11-12. Anikka has a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance. Her opera credits include Papagena and Queen of the Night in Mozart's Magic Flute, Morgana in Handel's Alcina, Tytania in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Mary in the world premiere of Kyr's Christmas Oratorio. Her musical theatre credits include Sandy in Grease, Lilli Vanessi (Kate) in Kiss Me, Kate, and Cinderella in Into the Woods. She most recently played Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls with the Theatre Group at SBCC. Also in Santa Barbara, Anikka has been a featured soloist for the Prime Time Band, the Readers Theater, and the Condor Express' Broadway Cruise.

Robert Allen (Mr. Weston) had been taking a break from theatre productions, but is overjoyed to be back at SBCC in the Theatre Department. Having performed in 3 previous productions at SBCC, Sense and Sensibility, The Thin Man, and Here We Go Again, he is glad to get back into the swing of things in the amazing Garvin Theatre.

CLAYTON BARRY (Mr. Knightley) is a proud graduate of Santa Barbara High School and the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. He has had the privilege of training and performing at institutions such as the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Moscow Art Theatre School, and Williamstown Theatre Festival.  

LEXIE BRENT (Emma) is a theatre major at SBCC and is overjoyed to be part of this fabulous production! Her other credits with the SBCC Theatre Arts Department include The Importance of Being Earnest (Lady Bracknell) and Laughing With Durang (Wanda in Wanda’s Visit). She also had the wonderful opportunity to work on A Comedy of Tenors last spring as the Assistant Director and Assistant Stage Manager. 

Rachel Brown (Mrs. Weston) has appeared in numerous theatrical productions, including The Wolves (SBCC), Nance O'Neill (Blue Coyote), and Loves Labors Lost (Theater at Monmouth). In addition, Rachel has been a burlesque performer (Sapphire Jones) for over 13 years performing all over the United States. She is happy to be back on the West Coast after over a decade in New York City and thrilled to be working with The Theatre Group at SBCC again.

MARIO GUERRERO (Mr. Elton) is honored to come back to theatre after a year and a half! Known for his role as The Angel, The Mourner, and Dr. Murgatroyd in Laughing with Durang in the fall of 2021 and Katie Laris’ one acts in the Spring 2022, both at SBCC in the Jurkowitz Theatre. He also assistant stage managed for The Wolves in the Spring 2022. This will be his first play in the Garvin Theatre at SBCC. 

Luke Hamilton (Frank Churchill/Robert Martin) is a Theatre Arts Department student at SBCC. Luke is playing Frank Churchill in honor of Benjamin Scott Schurmer who was originally cast as the role.

LANA KANEN (Mrs. Elton/Servant) is excited to be making her debut with The Theatre Group at SBCC. She is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts with a degree in theatre. She has appeared in many theatrical productions and concerts over the years in Santa Barbara as well as Los Angeles. Most recently, Lana has been working in Utah on a pre-Broadway workshop for the new musical, Pleasant Grove Rock Opera.  

VAN RIKER (Mr. Woodhouse) was born into the Theater in Aspen Colorado, where his parents established "The Aspen Playhouse". Van's first play was a production of The Rainmaker (Jimmy) in NY, He was hooked. Since then, he has performed Coast to Coast. Van is THRILLED to be back on the boards at the Garvin, and working with Katie again. Their last project together was The Thin Man (Joe Morrelli) Radio show. Van's first show at the Garvin was A Flea in Her Ear and then Blithe Spirit. 

Jenna Scanlon (Miss Bates) has trained at SBCC, Utah Shakespeare Festival, and San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater. She is honored to have had the privilege of exploring new works with such entities as UCSB’s Launch Pad, On the Verge Theater Festival, SBCC, and Rod Lathim. Favorite roles include: Paulina in The Winter's Tale, Emilia in Othello, Nora Charles in The Thin Man, Pauline in A Bright New Boise, Jean in Dead Man's Cell Phone, Hannah Jarvis in Arcadia, Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, Rose in The Woolgatherer, Poppy in Noises Off, Judy in The Designated Mourner, Madge in The Game’s Afoot, and Ivy in August: Osage County. She has also been seen in Guys and Dolls, Murder on the Orient Express, The Hound of the Baskervilles; Regrets Only (Indy Award); Bullshot Crummond; Present Laughter (Indy Award); And Then There Were None (Four Star Award); Educating Rita; Bill W. & Dr. Bob; and the one-woman show Shirley Valentine (Four Star Award), among others. 

SUE SMILEY (Mrs. Bates) is a long-time student at SBCC and is happy to be performing for the first time at Garvin theatre.  She has performed as a choir member in the Greek tragedy Antigone.  She was Susan in the play Funeral Parlor by Christopher Durang.  

Grace Wilson (Harriet) is a second-year theatre arts major at SBCC, making her third performance with the Theatre Group at SBCC. You may have seen her as Mimi in A Comedy of Tenors on the Garvin stage last spring, or as Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest in the Jurkowitz. Other favorite credits include Chicago, Anne of Green Gables, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, State Fair, and The Music Man, among others. 


KATIE LARIS (Director) is Co-Chair, stage director and an associate professor of acting for The Theatre Arts Department at SBCC. Recent productions include Guys and Dolls, A Comedy of Tenors, The Importance of Being Earnest, Something Rotten!, Murder on the Orient Express, Ripcord, Here We Go Again, The Thin Man, Looking Back, Looking Forward, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Sense and Sensibility, Significant Other, The Game’s Afoot, Grease, Communicating Doors, It’s a Wonderful Life, Rabbit Hole, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and Dead Man’s Cell Phone. Katie received her B.A. in Theatre/Literature from Reed College and her M.F.A. in Theatre Directing from Columbia University. 

PATRICIA L. FRANK (Scenic & Lighting Designer) is the Co-Chair and Director of Design and Technology for the Theatre Arts Department. She also serves as the resident scenic and lighting designer for The Theatre Group at SBCC. She is happy to continue as the Scenic/Lighting Designer in the first show this fall Semester Emma. She has designed countless shows at SBCC and is very happy to return to design this fun comedy.  Pat was recently honored by On Broadway Santa Barbara with the Best Scenic Design award for The Theatre Group’s production of Murder on the Orient Express. Pat earned an MFA in Visual Arts from UND and an MA in Dramatic Arts from UCSB.

Pamela Shaw (Costume Designer) is resident costume designer for The Theatre Group at SBCC, recently designing Guys and Dolls, A Comedy of Tenors, George and Emily Get Married, The Play that Goes Wrong, Something Rotten!, Murder on the Orient Express, Ripcord, The Thin Man, Looking Back, Looking Forward, Sense & Sensibility, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Game’s Afoot, Grease, One Man, Two Guvnors and Significant Other among many other productions. Ms. Shaw was Costume Designer for The Forbidden Planet, Fuddy Meers and South Pacific at The Rubicon Theater, The Curious Case of the Watson Intelligence and the premiere of San Patricios at PCPA, the off-Broadway show Lonesome Traveler, Assistant Costume Designer for TV sensation Vampire Diaries. She is the 2017-2023 Chair for the Western Region Board of United Scenic Artists, Local 829.

BARBARA HIRSCH (Sound Designer) owns Opus 1 mobile recording, recording much of Santa Barbara’s rich musical scene.  Working in theater has included writing music for theater, playing in the pit, running sound for shows. She won a Dramalogue Sound Design award for SBCLO’s Singin' in the Rain, a show whose rain on stage helped to end a years' long drought. In more recent years, Ensemble Theater Company’s productions of Amadeus and Christmas at Pemberly and The Wickhams featured her sound design, and she has been fortunate to work with Katie Laris on the college's excellent productions, including Ripcord, Sense and Sensibility, Comedy of Tenors and many more.  In another realm she owns the wonderful Santa Barbara Yoga Center.

ADAM ESCÁRCEGA (Production Stage Manager) has been part of the Theatre Group at SBCC for twelve years on and off starting in assorted positions in theatrical crews. He most recently stage-managed Guys and Dolls, and has stage managed many productions for SBCC Theatre Group including: The Murder on the Orient Express, Laughing with Durang, and Blithe Spirit. He has also been an assistant stage manager for Time of My Life, High Society, Flea in Her Ear, and Something Rotten!  He was awarded the Student of the Year for the 2021-22 school year for the SBCC Theatre Department. Adam made his first debut as an actor in Comedy of Tenors. In May of 2021, Adam graduated from SBCC and received his A.S. degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently working with toddler children as an Associate Teacher in Goleta. He is currently attending Antioch University to obtain his BA degree in Early Childhood Education.

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