Founder/Artistic Director Susan Keller is a fifth-generation Californian, an honors graduate of Stanford University, and a performer whose career has taken her across North America. A mezzo-soprano, her first job was with the Canadian Opera Company as Venus in their production of Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, performing in 42 states and all the Canadian provinces and territories during two years of touring. She remained in Canada, starring as a panelist on the popular, long-running CBC-Television network show, This Is the Law. At the same time, she appeared in cabaret and revue, she explored comedy (with the Toronto company of Second City), and starred in stage productions (in Toronto and with the Philadelphia Drama Guild and the Shaw Festival among others) and television dramatic series. She made her feature film debut as the lead in The Clown Murders, opposite John Candy in his first dramatic role.
After returning to California, Susan’s career remained equally varied. She co-hosted Mid-Morning LA for KHJ-TV; she was a regular on Days of Our Lives, a guest on numerous television comedy and drama series (including the “Who Shot JR?” episode of Dallas), and she co-starred in ANTA-West’s premier of Gog and Magog at the Coronet Theatre. She pursued an award-winning song-writing career, created comedy and vocal showcases for LA clubs, and she acted as spokeswoman for an eclectic array of commercial products, work that enabled her to put herself through UCLA Law School. She then practiced entertainment law prior to moving to Santa Barbara.
Local audiences have seen Susan on stage with the Civic Light Opera in The Sound of Music, at the Ensemble Theatre, in regular appearances with Speaking of Stories, and in Bad Dog at Center Stage. In addition to much volunteer work on commissions and other non-profit boards, Susan served on the Lobero Theatre Board of Directors, producing Always…Patsy Cline and Leslie Nielsen’s Clarence Darrow at that theatre. In 2007, after seeing her first Revels production in Oakland, Susan founded Santa Barbara Revels. During the past nine years, annual productions of The Christmas Revels: In Celebration of the Winter Solstice have featured the music, dance, story-telling, and seasonal rituals of the Renaissance and medieval Europe, Victorian England, Bavaria, Appalachia and the American South, Britain since the 11th century, and the Irish emigrant experience of the early 1900s. In addition to yearly presentations of The Christmas Revels, Santa Barbara Revels also creates a variety of other events and activities to mark seasonal change, including Pub Sings for Spring and Fall equinoxes, and a May Day celebration, as well as Revels salons and other events that bring tradition to life. Susan’s husband and son (Myron and Matthew Shapero) have joined her in promoting and performing in The Christmas Revels. They all embrace the Santa Barbara Revels slogan: Join us and be joyous!
Music Director Adam Phillips has had an extremely varied career as a vocal, instrumental, and stage performer as well as a voice teacher and music director. Adam received his undergraduate training at the State University of New York at Fredonia, earning a BFA in Musical Theatre while making the Dean’s List and performing in a variety of theater and opera productions, recording several vocal albums, and receiving numerous awards and honors including a Voice Faculty Scholarship and a nomination for Best Actor in Musical Theatre in Buffalo, New York. Since moving to Santa Barbara, Adam has sung with a Quire of Voyces, with Opera Santa Barbara, with the Adelfos Ensemble, and as a soloist at Old Santa Barbara Mission. He has served as a Theater Specialist with the Montessori Center School, as Assistant Drama and Music Director for Stage Left Theatre Company, Worship Leader at El Montecito Presbyterian Church’s Tapestry, and as a voice teacher.
Currently, Adam is the Director of Music and Worship at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of Goleta. As a multi-instrumentalist he frequently performs with guitar, mandolin family, whistles, various other string instruments, and now bagpipes. He performs at many local wineries, leads the Adam Phillips Band, and is the founder and Music Director of the forthcoming Folk Orchestra of Santa Barbara.
Assistant Stage Director Matthew Tavianini is pleased to be working his sixth season with the Santa Barbara Revels, continuing as assistant director for this coming season’s production as well as acting in the show. He has been serving as the managing director/producer/actor of BOXTALES Theatre Co. for 10 years. He is a graduate of UCSB and the FSU/Asolo Conservatory where he received his MFA in acting. He has worked in Santa Barbara playing such roles as Semyonov Pischik in Lit Moon Theatre Company’s The Cherry Orchard, Trinculo/Alonso in the company’s production of the Tempest, Michal in Genesis West’s production of The Pillowman, Karl in The Last Days of the Empire, Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night, Telemachus in BOXTALES production of The Odyssey, Joe in The Last Night of Ballyhoo, David in The Rivals, and Thurio in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Matt in Wrench, and Bobby in American Buffalo. Matthew also teaches acting, Shakespeare and stage combat, and directs the GVJH annual spring production in Santa Barbara. He has also enjoyed working at the Westport Playhouse, The Odyssey Theatre, Ogunquit Playhouse, Asolo Theatre, Santa Barbara Theatre Group, The Ensemble Theatre, Speaking of Stories, Santa Barbara Shakespeare Co., and City at Peace.
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