Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) at The New Vic kicks off the 2022-2023 Season with a show-stopping performance of Carmen Jones!
Carmen Jones is a thought-provoking adaptation of the beloved opera, Carmen, by Geogres Bizet with new lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The classic story of the bewitching Carmen is reset in a parachute factory during 1940’s World War II. Featuring an African American cast, in this revised version, the most provocative (and trouble-making) employee at the factory is Carmen Jones who is arrested by the military for once again causing trouble. She uses her seductive ways on the corporal assigned to guard her, Joe, who soon forgets his local sweetheart, Cindy Lou, and runs off to Chicago with Carmen. Husky Miller, a champion boxer on the military base, is also in Chicago for a major bout in the ring and a dangerous love triangle ensues when Carmen finds herself quickly drawn to the boxer . Several memorable musical numbers have come from this rarely performed new score, including “Dat’s Love,” “Dere’s a Café on de Corner,” “Stan’ Up and Fight,” and “Beat Out Dat Rhythm on a rum.”
About the creative team & cast:
Jonathan Fox (Director) joined ETC in 2006. His most recent ETC productions were American Son, Lillian, Measure for Measure, Everything is Illuminated and The School for Lies. He adapted and directed ETC’s 2017 production of Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives. 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 2019 production of Eugene Onegin and 2014 production of The Consul. He collaborated with the Santa Barbara Symphony on their Shakespeare and Valentine’s Day concerts, and recently directed their production of The Soldier’s Tale. His ETC productions of The Invisible Hand in 2018 and Bad Jews in 2016 both traveled to Frankfurt.
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 2016 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.
William Foster McDaniel (Musical Director, Conductor, Pianist) is a graduate of the Conservatory of Music at Capital University in his native Columbus, Ohio. He earned his Master of Music degree at Boston University and continued his studies in Paris, France as a Fulbright Scholar. Based in New York, Mr. McDaniel musical directed and conducted Broadway Musicals throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. In that capacity he brought three National Tours, back-to-back, to Los Angeles: Bubblin’ Brown Sugar, and Timbuktu! (starring Eartha Kitt), both at the Pantages, and the original cast of Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the Aquarius Theatre. Mr. McDaniel has musical directed Blues In The Night at the Ebony Repertory Theatre and at the Beverly O’Neill Theatre in Long Beach.
Lisa Ruffin (Choreography) has worked consistently in the entertainment industry with some of the most successful artist, from Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner to Beyonce. Lisa choreographed was Kool and the Gang’s, “Joanna” video, which won an American Music Award. She is the youngest African American female to choreograph a Broadway Stage production, Up Close and Personal at the Lunt Fontaine Theatre. Lisa has choreographed and taught in over 20 countries including Paul Allen’s $420 million dollar “Experience Music Project “and “Funk Blast,” produced by Digital Domain. She recently worked at University of Southern California where she choreographed Spring Awakening and Seize The King. For Ensemble Theatre Company, she choreographed In the Continuum, which was directed by Saundra McClain.
The cast of Carmen Jones features Fredricka Meek as “Carmen Jones,” Chauncey Packer as “Joe,” Zelda Carmen as “Cindy Lou,” Troy Wallace as “Husky,” Nataley Carter as “Myrt,” Ashli Ferguson as “Sally,” Christopher James Hester as “Rum,” Michael Howard-Dossett as “Sergeant Brown/Higgins,” Constance Jewell Lopez as “Franky,” and Desmond Newson as “Dink.”
Scenic and Lighting design is by Francois-Pierre Couture. Sound design is by Randall Robert Tico. Costume design is by Alex Jaeger. Properties design is by John M. McElveney. Casting is by Amy Lieberman, CSA. Anna Jensen is the Dramaturg. The Production Stage Manager is Sarah Dawn Lowry.