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Desert Ensemble Theatre Company engages audiences and creates theater that speaks to relevant issues in our lives and community.

Mission

DETC is committed to growing the art of theatre by producing innovative plays that underscore the complexity of human interaction. We nurture the growth of artists of all ages, on and off the stage, and create an environment that rewards and cherishes them. 

Our theatre internships give high school students the on-the-job experience of working in professional productions. They work in a professional environment, expanding and putting into practice what they have learned in school. DETC awards scholarships to graduating seniors who have completed DETC internships and plan to continue their higher education in theatre arts.

History

Tony Padilla founded DETC in 2011 with a vision of a small repertory company that allowed theatre artists to participate fully in the realization of their creative vision both onstage and off. 

The company spent its first two years at the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Spring Art Museum. Early successes included productions of EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY TOLD (AND THEN SOME!) (Michael Carlton), GOD OF CARNAGE (Yasmina Reza), and a special event: WHEN YOU BELIEVE: A CONVERSATION WITH AND TRIBUTE TO STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, conceived and directed by Broadway veteran Scott Logsdon and starring Andrea McArdle, Hunter Parrish and Kate Flannery.

Beginning with the 2013–14 season, DETC took up residence at the Pearl McManus Theatre at the historic Palm Springs Woman’s Club, where it instituted a regular production schedule of two to three plays per season. The company enjoyed critical success with productions such as LAUNDRY AND BOURBON (James McClure), SYLVIA (A.R. Gurney), BAD JEWS (Joshua Harmon), MISS GULCH RETURNS! (Fred Barton), A NUMBER (Caryl Churchill), and ELECTION DAY (Josh Tobiessen).

Over the years, DETC also became known for world premiere productions of plays written by its core company members: Tony Padilla (MR. HORN, BECOMING AVA, FAMILY MEETING, THE COMEBACK, ENDANGERED SPECIES, LOVESPORT, THE THESPIAN RADIO HOUR); and Shawn Abramowitz (EXPRESSIONS). In 2014, DETC introduced an annual Season Opening Gala, a musical revue, with proceeds going to fund scholarships for its high school theatre interns. Since 2012, DETC has awarded scholarships to 10 students entering college with a major or minor in theatre.

DETC was named “Best Repertory Company” in the Desert Sun’s “Best of the Valley Awards,” 2018, and “Best Live Theatre, Palm Springs” in Palm Springs Life’s “Best of the Best By City,” 2018; and was awarded 12 Broadway World Awards for its 2016–17 season. Since its inception, DETC has been honored with 28 Desert Theatre League Awards in all major categories.

Staff and Board

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Shawn Abramowitz

Executive Director
Board President

Shawn joined DETC as Executive Director in 2013. Last season he received critical acclaim for his performance in DETC’s production of ELECTION DAY. In 2017 he won two Desert Theatre League Awards for Outstanding Original Writing and Outstanding Direction for his moving play, EXPRESSIONS. He is also a 2016 winner of the DTL for Lead Actor in a One-Act for A NUMBER and a 2014 winner for Supporting Actor in a Drama for his performance in Tony Padilla’s FAMILY MEETING. Shawn has worked for many years in Los Angeles and the Coachella Valley as a TV professional. His acting credits include ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST and ROMEO AND JULIET at College of the Desert; NOVIO BOY at CSUSB; and A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Riverside Community Players. Other credits with DETC include EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD, BECOMING AVA, and MR. HORN (DTL nomination).

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Jerome Elliott

Artistic Director
Board Vice-President
Jerome is a Broadway World Award-winning actor, singer and director. He has been a core member of DETC since 2014, serving as Communications Director for four years and assuming the post of Artistic Director in 2018. Since 2014, Jerome has conceived and directed all five of the company’s season opening galas. For his work with DETC, The Desert Theatre League recognized him as Outstanding Director & Outstanding Supporting Male Performer, Cabaret/Revue for BOYS' NIGHT OUT (2017); Outstanding Director, A NUMBER and Outstanding Director & Outstanding Lead Male Performer, Cabaret/Revue, SHOWSTOPPERS (2016). He also won as Outstanding Supporting Performer in 2013 for STANDING ON CEREMONY: THE GAY MARRIAGE PLAYS (Keith Coleman Productions). A prolific cabaret performer, he has performed at venues throughout the U.S. Jerome is a three-time finalist in Open Call at the McCallum Theatre Institute, an alumnus of the International Cabaret Conference at Yale University, and holds a B.A. in drama from Franklin & Marshall College.

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Tony Padilla

Founder & Producing Artistic Director Emeritus
Honorary Board Member

Angelantonio (Tony) Padilla is a celebrated, playwright, director and producer. As cofounder and Producing Artistic Director of Playwrights’ Circle, and founder of DETC, Tony has produced and directed many award-winning productions, including his play, RECKONING, which is published in “Three Genres,” a college text book by Stephen Minot published by Prentice Hall. In March 2008 his play, ENDANGERED SPECIES was translated and produced by Campagnia dell’Attimo in Rovereto, Italy under the direction of Leonardo Franchini. It was also part of the April 2009 Schegge D’Autore (Theatre Festival) in Rome where it was awarded the festival’s International Award medal. The play has been performed throughout northern Italy, used by municipalities as a tool to promote social awareness and responsibility. In October 2014, The Desert Theatre League awarded Tony the Bill Groves Award for Outstanding Original writing for his play BECOMING AVA. The following year, he was awarded the DTL’s prestigious Joan Woodbury Mitchell Award for being a theater pioneer in the Coachella Valley. Tony is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

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Rosemary Mallett

Artistic Director Emeritus
Rosemary was the theater teacher at Palm Spring High School from 1981–2008, directing over 80 plays and musicals. Her productions of SKIN OF OUR TEETH, NOISES OFF, ABSURD PERSON SINGULAR and RUMORS received first place honors with the Southern California Educational Theater Association. JABBERWOCKY, DINNEY AND THE WITCHES, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and OUR TOWN received second place honors. The Desert Theatre League awarded her high school productions of WEST SIDE STORY and DIVINERS honors for Best Director and Overall Production. For A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and A PIECE OF MY HEART, she received the Best Director awards. Her Palm Canyon Theatre production of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and her Groves Cabin GRACE AND GLORIE won best director. Her 2015 production of FAMILY MEETING for DETC won Best Production of a One-Act and Best Director, and her 2016 production of BAD JEWS garnered her another Best Director trophy. Most recently, Rosemary directed ELECTION DAY for DETC in 2018. She received the Joan Woodbury Mitchell Award from the Desert Theatre League in 1994.

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Mary Pannoni

Secretary
Board Treasurer

Mary is a lifelong resident of Palm Springs, having spent almost 25 years growing up in the desert. She has been an avid performer and fan of the performing arts, having been a member of her high school choral ensembles for all four years as well as having an affinity for live theatre and musicals (not to mention her love of karaoke!). Along with receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from California State University, San Bernardino, Mary has more than 10 years of experience in accounting—most notably and recently in Public/Municipal finance.

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Sam Benson Smith

Communications Director
Board Member-at-Large

Sam is the Digital Content Director for KESQ News Channel 3, CBS Local 2, and Kunamundo. He makes his DETC debut in the March production of PROOF. He added in the “Benson” to sound less like a Grammy award-winning singer, and more like a law firm. Past acting credits include Dennis in NEVER HAVE I EVER, Boy in HEAD IN THE CLOUDS, and Enamored Audience Member when he saw LES MISERABLES. Sam has had jokes published in Reader’s Digest and has performed stand up comedy in Boston (Discount Therapy), New York (Broadway Comedy Club, Yonkers Comedy Club), and right here in the Valley (Coachella Valley Comedy Club). He has a degree in Broadcast Journalism with a concentration in Creative Writing from Emerson College. He’s from New Jersey; just ask him to pronounce “coffee.”

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Robert Webster

Development Director
Board Member-at-Large

Robert has 13 years of television experience, beginning as a production specialist with Time Warner Cable in Palm Desert. Currently, he is the morning newscast director for CBS Local 2. In 2006, Robert, as well as the entire morning team at CBS Local 2, was awarded an Emmy for "Best Morning Newscast" for their coverage of President Gerald Ford's funeral. The Southern California native has a degree in video production from The Art Institute of California Los Angeles, where he won "Best Presentation" in the school's Spring 2003 portfolio show for his short film "Temptations.” Robert was born in the San Fernando Valley, and has lived in the Palm Springs area since 2008. During his free time, the life-long fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers enjoys hiking, camping, and brewing his own beer.

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