About DETC

OUR 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), ELECTION DAY (Josh Tobiessen), and PROOF (David Auburn).

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, FOR A REASON); 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

Shawn Abramowitz

Executive Director
Board President

Shawn joined DETC as Executive Director in 2013. Last season he directed DETC’s critically acclaimed production of FOR A REASON. In 2018 he won the Desert Theatre League Award for his performance in DETC’s ELECTION DAY. The prior season he won two DTL 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). Shawn is a graduate of CSUSB with a BA in Theatre Arts.

Jerome Elliott

Artistic Director
Board Vice-President

Since relocating from San Francisco in 2002, Jerome has become known to Desert audiences for his work as a singer, actor and director. He brings a distinct theatricality and wit to his one-person shows, which he has performed at clubs throughout the Coachella Valley and the U.S.  Since 2013, the Desert Theatre League has recognized Jerome’s work with 10 Desert Star Awards for directing, acting, and cabaret performance. A former member of the Fulton Opera House Summer Repertory Company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Jerome holds a B.A. in Drama from Franklin & Marshall College and is an alumnus of the 2008 International Cabaret Conference at Yale University.

Ricky Reidling

Director of Development

With over 20 years in the entertainment industry Ricky has had a successful career being the creator of the cable series “BoysTown”, that he wrote, directed and played one of the lead characters for the cable network OUTtv in Canada and Europe for two seasons. He has acted and worked behind the scenes on many productions including his comedy film “Heels,” as well as working with networks such at E! Entertainment and HGTV. His latest venture is a new T.V series to be made in Palm Springs titled “Some Kind of Wonderful.”

Vanessa Michel

Communications Director
Board Member-at-Large

Vanessa Michel holds a double BA in Communications and Spanish from San Diego State University. In 2014 she joined the team of a Coachella Valley video production and photography agency developing brand and social media marketing for large companies, non-profits, and small businesses. Michel is currently the talent for the morning television show “Despierta Palm Springs” Univision, the Valley’s leading destination for Spanish language news and entertainment. In 2018 Vanessa was in charge of a political campaign in favor of Prop. 68 in the Coachella Valley, which would give important funds to the restoration of the Salton Sea and address the negative health effects of the Salton Sea crisis on the East Valley’s most needy population. After the proposition’s victory she was invited to participate in the Research & Education Partnership for the Salton Sea (REPSS) Roundtable, on which she currently serves. In the last decade Vanessa has brought her knowledge of social media, public relations and communications to businesses and non-profits.

Charles Herrera

Secretary

Singer, actor, and cabaret artist, Charles Herrera has appeared all over the country and abroad in musicals, operettas, cabaret shows and theatrical productions. Theatrical productions include Guys and Dolls, The Mikado, Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays, Marry Me a Little, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, among others. Most recently, he appeared as an aging, handicapped writer in the critically acclaimed comedy/drama, For a Reason, for Desert Ensemble Theatre Company. He has performed and produced his own cabaret shows in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and here in Palm Springs, to rave reviews. Charles is the recipient of five DESERT STAR awards, all in the cabaret/variety show category. He can be seen performing at several venues in the Palm Springs area, as well as in the successful musical tribute show, PALM SPRINGS JUMP!, playing monthly at The Purple Room Supper Club.

Donna Lawton

Board Member at Large

Donna is from upstate New York near the Vermont boarder. After many cold winters and vacations to Palm Springs decided to relocate in 2006. Never been sorry. I have a daughter and granddaughter living in Upland. 

Once settled in I looked for something to keep me busy. I started with the Palm Springs International Film Festival and at present am a pre-screener. I screen and rate films for the programmers – usually at least 300 short films and 90 feature length films per year. I also volunteer for the Palm Springs Art Museum and have been responsible for volunteers for their special events. Modernism Week keeps me busy twice a year as I schedule volunteers for their evening events.

Live theater has always interested me and I am involved with Coachella Valley Rep. Theater as well as Palm Canyon Theater. Desert Ensemble Theater seems like a perfect fit and I am looking forward to not only assisting in their productions this year but meeting others that enjoy live theater as much as I do.

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 and Producing Artistic Director Emeritus of Desert Ensemble Theatre Company, 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 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. In October 2014, The Desert Theatre League awarded Tony the Bill Groves Award for Outstanding Original Writing for his play BECOMING AVA. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild of America.

Rosemary Mallett

Artistic Director Emeritus

Rosemary was the theater teacher at Palm Spring High School from 1981–2008, directing over 80 plays and musicals, winning several first place honors from the Southern California Educational Theater Association. The Desert Theatre League awarded her high school productions of WEST SIDE STORY and DIVINERS honors for Best Director and Overall Production; and she was named Best Director for A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and A PIECE OF MY HEART. 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. In 2019 she directed the one-acts GRACELAND and ASLEEP ON THE WIND for DETC. Rosemary received the Joan Woodbury Mitchell Award from the Desert Theatre League in 1994.