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Desert Ensemble Theatre is committed to growing the art of theatre by producing innovative plays that underscore the complexity of human interaction.

DET 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. DET awards scholarships to graduating seniors who have completed DET internships and plan to continue their higher education in theatre arts.

Tony Padilla founded DET 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, DET 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, DET 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, DET introduced an annual Season Opening Gala, a musical revue, with proceeds going to fund scholarships for its high school theatre interns. Since 2012, DET has awarded scholarships to 10 students entering college with a major or minor in theatre.

DET 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, DET has been honored with 28 Desert Theatre League Awards in all major categories.

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