Astonishing! A feel-good musical with great warmth, and a heart of gold!” –The New York Times
Electrifying! Exilarating!” –The New Yorker
Written and directed by Marion J. Caffey
June 7 - 24, 2018
Cookin’ at the Cookery lives, laughs, loves, and cooks!” –Talkin’ Broadway
Production Sponsored by
The Zegar Family Foundation
With Sponsorship from
Mr. John C Mithun and Ms. Mercedes Millington
Barbara and Sam Toumayan
ETC's 2017-18 Season Sponsored by Leatrice Luria
Photos: David Bazemore
ETC will close the 2017-18 Season with Cookin’ at the Cookery, a two-woman musical that brings jazz and blues legend Alberta Hunter’s extraordinary and improbable life story to the stage.
A queen reborn!" –Variety
A sizzling Rhapsody In Blues! Wonderfully performed! Delightful!” –The New York Daily News
Dayna Jarae Dantzler (Young Alberta) is very excited to be working with Ensemble Theatre Company as we bring this story of a legend to life! Previous credits include— Broadway: Waitress (Becky us, Swing), Nat’l Tours: The Color Purple (Celie), The Book Of Mormon (Nabulungi us, Swing), James and the Giant Peach (Miss Spider), Fantasy DCL (Rafiki, Ensemble) Regional: You’re Causing A Disturbance—Brooklyn Philharmonic at BAM feat. Erykah Badu (Singer), Little Shop Of Horrors (Audrey II), Frankenstein (Ensemble). Dantzler thanks her mother for her everlasting love and support and gives all glory to The Most High God. daynadantzler.com.
LaVon Fisher-Wilson (Alberta) is very excited to make her Ensemble Theatre Company debut. Broadway: Disney’s Newsies, Lysistrata Jones, Chicago the Musical, The Color Purple. Off Broadway: Chix 6. Film/Television: “Disney’s Teen Beach Movie,” “Team Toon,” “Submissions,” HBO’s “Divorce,” “QUANTICO,” “Nightcap with Jimmy.” Suzi Award for playing Gran Mimi in Jelly’s Last Jam. Love to my husband Darrell Wilson and our three greatest creations: Darrell Jr., Darrien, and DaVonna Wilson!!!
Marion J. Caffey (Writer-Director-Choreographer) Marion has the rare distinction of having written, directed, performed and choreographed on/for the Broadway stage. He is the current producer of the iconic show Amateur Night at the Apollo and Amateur’s Casting Producer for Showtime at the Apollo with Steve Harvey. His work has appeared on Broadway, Network Television, PBS Great Performances, The White House, J.F. Kennedy Center and on three continents. Projects in development: World Tenors Unleashed and Black Magic. Previous projects: Apollo Live, Three Mo’ Tenors, Harlem Nights/U Street Lights (with Jason Moran), MLK Memorial Groundbreaking Ceremony, The Voice of Alegria, 3 Mo’ Divas, Street Corner Symphony, Three Mo’ Tenors, and Bowfire. This performance and every performance, is dedicated to his children Mari and Chris. In loving memory of our musical arranger and long time friend Danny Holgate.
George Caldwell (Music Director and Pianist) Pianist and musical director of Cookin’ at the Cookery, is a veteran of Broadway, having conducted several shows such as Black and Blue and Play On!, as well as having served in orchestra pits for such hits as Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk, The Full Monty, etc. In addition to providing musical direction for the European tour of Black and Blue, and serving as associate conductor for the tour of Body and Soul in Europe, Caldwell has toured the regional circuit with many shows, including serving as musical director for the original musicals Thunder Knocking on the Door, Golden Boy at the Longwharf, and tours of Ella, a musical biography of the great Ella Fitzgerald. Caldwell has also toured the world with the premier jazz orchestras of modern times. He played for 3 years with the Duke Ellington orchestra, under the direction of Ellington’s son Mercer, and 7 years with the Count Basie orchestra, under the direction of Frank Foster and Grover Mitchell. The Basie Orchestra received a Grammy award with Caldwell at the piano for the recording ‘The Count Basie Orchestra Live at the Manchester Craftsman’s Guild’ (with the New York Voices). He has performed with many artists, performers as diverse as George Benson, Savion Glover, Lou Rawls, Elvis Costello, Art Blakey, Shirley Bassey, Freda Payne, Wynton Marsalis, Lionel Hampton, the Manhattan Transfer, Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau, The Coasters, Cab Calloway, Quincy Jones, Gregory Hines, Dizzy Gillespie and even Brenda Lee. Caldwell has composed and arranged the music for an award winning short film, “Rolling in Dough,” as well as for two musicals: The King Is A Fink, and Histironiks. His recording credits are equally as diverse. His credits include multifarious musical styles, from having recorded original cast albums for Broadway shows, such as Play On! and Body and Soul, to Jazzin’ with Tito Puente. His latest release is “Accord,” available online at Amazon. His compositions and arrangements are recorded extensively. Caldwell dedicates this production to the memory of Danny Holgate, with love and respect.
Danny Holgate (Arrangements): Broadway credits: Rainbow Jones, Don’t Bother me I Can’t Cope, Eubie!, Guys and Dolls (revival), Odyssey (Dance Arranger), It’s Nice To Be Civilized and Bubbling Brown Sugar. As Musical Supervisor and Arranger, he also performed the role of Jimmy Powers with Lonnette McKee and also with S. Epatha Merkerson in Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar And Grill in New York. His Pre-B’way shows include: Daddy Goodness, Two Faces Of Africa, Golden Boy (revival), Stringbean with Leslie Uggams, Aretha, Queen Of Soul, Sweet and Hot (an Evening of Harold Arlen), Blackbirds Of Broadway, Storyville, and ELLA. For over 30 years, Mr. Holgate was a prominent vocal coach and pianist putting together clubs acts or arrangements for performers and was also the conductor/pianist/arranger for the legendary Cab Calloway.
Dale F. Jordan (Scenic and Lighting Designer) Mr. Jordan has designed for such theatres as Arena Stage, The Denver Center, Arena Stage, Studio Arena, Geva Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Geffen Playhouse, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Alley Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Capital Repertory Company, Barter Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, The Whole Theatre, Delaware Theatre Company, Portland Stage Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Olney Theatre Center, Clarence Brown Theatre, Stage West, Asolo Theatre, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Playmakers Repertory Theatre, Long Island Stage Company, Crossroads Theatre Company, Cleveland Playhouse, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Huntington Theatre Company, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Metrostage, Denver Civic Theatre, Meadow Brook Theatre, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Weston Playhouse, Stanford Center For The Arts, Foothills Theatre Company, 7 Angels Theatre, 2 River Theatre, Queens Theatre In The Park, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Peterborough Players, Florida Studio Theatre, Florida Repertory Theatre, American Stage, The Citadel Theatre, National Arts Centre, The Canadian Stage Company, Manitoba Theatre Centre, The Grand Theatre, Arts Club Theatre, The New Yorker Theatre and the Stanley Theatre. Dale’s Opera affiliations include San Francisco Opera, Central City Opera, Colorado Opera Festival, Opera Colorado and Opera Florida State University. Dale’s New York City credits include Three Mo’ Divas, Cookin’ at the Cookery, Three Mo’ Tenors, BOWFIRE, Sea Marks, Sergeant Ola and His Followers, Hidden Parts, The China Fish, Wilderness of Shur, Alice and Fred, Seasons Greetings, Death of a Miner, Notes from the Underground, Chapel St., Dwelling in Milk, Story Time, Magic Time, Ruby Ruby Sam Sam and Archy and Mehitabel. International / National Tours include Three Mo’ Divas, Crowns, Cookin’ at the Cookery, Three Mo’ Tenors and BOWFIRE.
Marilyn Wall (Costume Designer) received her MFA in Costume/Set Design from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. She has designed and created costumes nationwide in theater, film and television. Off Broadway — Church & State at New World Stages. For The English and Imagination at Virginia Stage Co., Best of Enemies, The Fabulous for Make Believe and others at the Colony Theatre, Dogeaters and Clay at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, A Delicate Balance at The Odyssey Theatre, The Happiest Song Plays Last and Bright Light City at LATC, opening and closing weeks of 365 Days/365 Plays at Center Theatre Group, Dying City (Ovation Winner — Production of the Year) Rogue Machine Theatre Co., the original Los Angeles production of Philosophy of the World, The Shaggs. She has also originated the costumes for many new works and world premieres. She is a member of United Scenic Artists Local-829.
Michael Cassara, CSA (Casting Director): recent credits include The Mad Ones (Prospect Theater Company, dir. Stephen Brackett), Spamilton (dir. Gerard Alessandrini - NYC and Chicago companies), Gigantic (Vineyard Theatre, dir. Scott Schwartz), Forbidden Broadway (last two editions/cast albums), Goldstein (current off-Broadway production), PAW Patrol Live! (Nick Jr./current national tours), 9 Circles (off-Broadway premiere/Sheen Center), The 12 (Denver Center/world premiere), Caroline, or Change (Tantrum Theater), My Fair Lady (Gulfshore Playhouse), Do You Feel Anger? (Actors Theatre of Louisville/Humana Festival). Film: The Hyperglot (dir. Michael Urie, Artios nomination for excellence in casting), Grantham & Rose (dir. Kristin Hanggi). Resident Casting Director for the New York Musical Festival (NYMF) since 2007 and the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) since 2013. Michael is a native Clevelander and a member of the Casting Society of America. BFA, Otterbein University. MichaelCassara.net / @michaelcassara.
Sam Lahne (Dramaturg) is a playwright and dramaturg who originally hails from Washington, DC, but is now happy to call Santa Barbara his home. He is thrilled to be working as the resident production dramaturg for Ensemble Theatre Company’s 2017-18 season. As a dramaturg, he has worked on the development and production of a number of plays, including the world premieres of Jonathan Fox’s adaptation of Husbands and Wives (ETC SB), Aaron Posner’s Stupid F-ing Bird (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, DC), and Mia Chung’s You for Me for You (Woolly Mammoth). He has served as the Literary Assistant at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC, and at New Dramatists in New York. Sam’s own plays have been produced and developed at theatres across the country, including the Playwrights’ Center (MN), Bay Area Playwrights Festival (CA), the Kennedy Center/National New Play Network (DC), Barter Theatre Company (VA), Scripps Ranch Theater (CA), and the Jewish Plays Project (NY). Sam received his BA from Vassar College and his MFA from the University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop.
Jonathan Fox (Artistic Director) joined ETC in 2006. He adapted and directed ETC’s recent production of Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives. His other ETC productions include Porgy and Bess, Macbeth, Sweeney Todd, Woyzeck, Amadeus, A Little Night Music, The Liar, Crime and Punishment, and a dozen others. He directed Opera Santa Barbara’s 2014 production of The Consul at the Granada Theatre. He has collaborated with the Santa Barbara Symphony on their Shakespeare and Valentine’s Day concerts. In 2016, he directed ETC’s production of Bad Jews, which traveled to Germany for the play’s German premiere. Other European productions include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, A Streetcar Named Desire, Visiting Mr. Green, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at The English Theatre Frankfurt, and Old Wicked Songs, Crimes of the Heart, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Vienna English Theatre. Before joining ETC, Mr. Fox spent 12 years with Two River Theater Company in New Jersey, which he helped establish in 1994. He served as Managing Director of the company from 1994-99, and subsequently became its Artistic Director. For Two River, he directed their recent world premiere production of Lives of Reason. His production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was profiled in American Theatre Magazine, as was his festival of work by Samuel Beckett. His directing work has been seen in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Cologne, and has received critical acclaim in The New York Times, Variety, the LA Times, and other publications. He received his MFA from Columbia University, and is a recipient of the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellowship. He has served as an adjunct faculty member in theater departments at UCSB, Columbia University, University of Utah, and Monmouth University.
Abigail Strange (Production Stage Manager) Select Off-Broadway: What We Wanted (PSM), Philoctetes (PSM), Cagney (York Theatre, Asst. Director/SDC Observer), Clinton The Musical (Asst. Director), Tail! Spin! (Asst. Director), Ethel Sings (PSM), Here Lies Love (Public Theatre, PA), Murder for Two (New World Stages, PA) Select NYC: A Streetcar Named Desire (Carnegie Hall, PA), Lincoln Center Out of Doors & Midsummer Night’s Swing (Stage Manager) Select Regional: A Christmas Carol (Hangar Theatre, PSM), Spamilton (Royal George Theatre, PSM) Guys & Dolls (Bucks County Playhouse, PA).
Ensemble Theatre Company began as the Ensemble Theatre Project in 1978 under the direction of Joseph Hanreddy. For the first three years, plays were performed at Trinity Episcopal Church. In 1981, ETC made the 140-seat Alhecama Theatre its home for more than 25 years. Beginning in 2009, ETC undertook a $12.6 million renovation of the Victoria Hall Theater. It opened its new 300-seat home, the New Vic, in 2013. The New Vic has become a venue for dance, music, film, and lectures. After Joseph Hanreddy left Santa Barbara in 1985, Robert Grande Weiss became Artistic Director, a position he held until his retirement in 2006. Jonathan Fox assumed the position of Executive Artistic Director in September 2006 and saw the company through great expansion. Jill Seltzer joined ETC as its Managing Director in 2016. ETC, which became an Equity theater in 1989, is Santa Barbara’s sole professional theater company. The company, which presents five or six plays per season, has produced several American and West Coast premieres and has garnered numerous awards over the years.
The Hippodrome Theatre, located in Gainesville, Florida is currently celebrating its 45th anniversary season. Nationally recognized for artistic excellence, it serves as a cultural hub for North Central Florida. Best known for its dynamic and inspiring mainstage theatre, the Hippodrome is multi-faceted arts organization with an independent cinema, a visual art gallery, special events, educational opportunities for youth and adults, and over 340 active programming days annually. Learn more at thehipp.org.
Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) was founded in 1913 as the first of the American actor unions. Equity’s mission is to advance, promote and foster the art of live theater as an essential component of our society. Today, Equity represents more than 45,000 actors, singers, dancers and stage managers working in hundreds of theaters across the United States. Equity members are dedicated to working in the theater as a profession, upholding the highest artistic standards. Equity negotiates wages and working conditions and provides a wide range of benefits including health and pension plans for its members. Through its agreement with Equity, this theatre has committed to the fair treatment of the actors and stage managers employed in this production. AEA is a member of the AFL-CIO and is affiliated with FIA, an international organization of performing arts unions. For more information, visit www.actorsequity.org.
- Book Club, June 13, 2018, 5:30 - 6:30pm: Scripts are now available for checkout at the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 East Anapamu Street. Join other theatregoers for a lively discussion about the play from a literary and dramatic perspective. FREE!
- Pre-Show Talk, June 13 & 20, 2018 at 7:15 pm: Join us in the courtyard of The New Vic for an informative and insightful discussion about the play before you see it, sure to enhance your theatrical experience.
- Martini Night, June 15, 2018 at 7:15pm, performance at 8:00pm: Free to ticket holders. Come early to enjoy a complimentary martini and mingle before the show.
- Talk Back, June 21, 2018: Meet the cast after the show and discuss the production.
KCLU Radio Story "Musical Opening On South Coast This Week Tells Story Of Often Forgotten Jazz Legend" by Lance Orozco
Santa Barbara Independent Ensemble Theatre Offers Up ‘Cookin’ at the Cookery’ by Charles Donelan
Broadway World Previews: COOKIN' IN THE COOKERY