‘No Substitute for Live Theater’: ETC Raises its Curtains

By Richard Mineards   |   August 31, 2021
Christine Hollinger, Paula Bruice, Jill Seltzer, Jonathan Fox, Sybil Rosen, and Susan Case (Photos by Priscilla)

It was just the ticket when the venerable Ensemble Theatre Company, which is fully reopening after 15 months of pandemic lockdown, hosted 150 guests and raised a hefty $250,000 with its “Curtain (Back) Up!” bash at the Santa Barbara Club.

“When the New Vic theater opened in 2013, we had a Curtain Up fête,” says Jonathan Fox, artistic director. “This marks a colorful reopening and is just as momentous.

“It is a critical part of the alchemy to have a live audience, something that has been missing for the past 15 months. There is no substitute for live theater.”

The new season opens on October 9 with Tenderly, a show on the late singer Rosemary Clooney, aunt of movie idol George Clooney, which is followed by the Yuletide production The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, and three other shows — Sleuth, Carmen Jones, and American Son.

The delightful evening, co-chaired by Paula Bruice, Susan Case, and Sybil Rosen, also marked the company’s first Extraordinary Awards which went to Peter and Debby Stalker, Derek Westen, and Dana White, who were instrumental in getting the New Vic constructed.

ETC’s managing director Jill Seltzer emceed the gala and Jim Nye auctioned off a cornucopia of goodies, including a dinner party for eight, a coastal flight on Derek’s six-seater Piper Mirage, a walk-on role in the Christmas show, and a cellar of 75 bottles of wine.

Pianist Robert Koenig was accompanied by tenor Ben Brecher, who sang Rodgers and Hammerstein, among other favorites.

Among the theater fans turning out were Barbara Burger, Dan and Meg Burnham, Janet Garufis, David and Anne Gersh, Kostis Protopapas, Adele Rosen, Joan Rutkowski, Anne Towbes, and Simon Williams.

Sitting: Maureen McFadden, Michael K. Dunn, and Carole MacElhenny; standing: Jim and Jeanne Fulkerson, Jan Dunbar, Euzetta and Simon Williams (Photos by Priscilla)
Derek Westen, Christine Holland, Chuck Sheldon, Meredith Baxter, and Jenny Sullivan (Photos by Priscilla)
Ken and Georgiene Rotman, Janet Garufis, Jonathan Fox, Gregory Roper, Kathy Dimon, and Jill Seltzer (Photos by Priscilla)

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