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 ten 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, the Irish emigrant experience of the early 1900s, the crossroad of cultures in Andalusia, Spain, and the clash of clans in the Highlands of Scottland. 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 a Pub Sing for Spring equinox, a May Day celebration, Equinox: A Concert in Celebration of the Changing Seasons in the Fall, 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 Erin McKibben is an active performer and teacher in Southern California, originally from Portland, Oregon. Locally, she is the Owner and Director of the Santa Barbara School of Music, Choir Director of the Franklin Academy Children’s Choir (after spending 5 years as Choir Director for the el Sistema inspired music program, the Incredible Children’s Art Network), a Teaching Artist for the Santa Barbara Symphony, and performs with the Santa Barbara Folk Orchestra. Erin is principal flutist for the Los Angeles-based experimental classical ensemble wild Up, whose performances LA Times music critic Mark Swed has described as “impressive both technically and for their unabashed spirit.” The group’s recent New York City debut was listed in the New York Times’ “Best Classical Music of 2015.”
As a soloist, Erin has given acclaimed performances with several orchestras across the country. She has also appeared as a soloist at the National Flute Association Convention as a prize-winner of the Orchestral Excerpt Competition in New York City and, in 2015, performed as a soloist alongside renowned flutist Claire Chase at UCLA in a project for 104 flutists, and performed an alto flute solo by Andrew Norman as a main character in Hopscotch, a mobile opera for 24 cars, profiled by Alex Ross in the New Yorker magazine. Erin has performed at the Aspen Music Festival, Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West, Colburn’s Zipper Hall, Warner Brothers Studios, and as soloist at the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood. wild Up has performed alongside the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
As a chamber musician, Erin participated in the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and has been heard on Santa Barbara’s classical music radio station as a featured artist. Erin was also engaged as the Keynote Speaker for the 2015 Pacific Northwest Chapter Conference of the College Music Society, held at the University of Puget Sound. She holds a BM from the University of Puget Sound and a Masters Degree from the University of Michigan, where she studied with Amy Porter as a fellow.
Stage Director Matthew Tavianini has been working in the theater for over 40 years and is pleased to be in his eighth season with Santa Barbara Revels, continuing as stage director for this coming season’s production. He has been serving as the managing director/producer/actor of Boxtales Theatre Company for 12 years. He is a graduate of UCSB and the FSU/Asolo Conservatory where he received his MFA in acting. Some of Matthew’s favorite stage credits include: Semyonov Pischik in Lit Moon Theatre Company’s The Cherry Orchard, Trinculo/Alonso in that 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 the 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 studied physical theater with James Donlon at UCSB and Sigfrido Aquilar at the Estudio Busquerda de Pantomimo Teatro in Guanajuato, Mexico. Matthew teaches acting, Shakespeare and stage combat, and he directs the GVJH annual spring production in Santa Barbara. He has also enjoyed working at the Westport Playhouse, The Odyssey Theatre, Ogunquit Playhouse, The Odyssey Project, The Cape Playhouse, Asolo Theatre, Santa Barbara Theatre Group, The Ensemble Theatre, Speaking of Stories, Santa Barbara Revels, Santa Barbara Shakespeare Co., and City at Peace.
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