Season ticketholders have early access to purchase event tickets

Desert Ensemble Theater (DET) has announced Celebrity Star Contestants and Star Coaches for the second annual Singing With the Desert Stars, the company’s gala benefit on Friday, October 6, 2023 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center. The event, a friendly competition that teams Broadway veterans and prominent vocalists with nonprofessional singers who are community leaders, benefits DET’s student Internship/Mentorship and Scholarship Programs.

Singing with the Desert Stars sold out in 2022. Become a season ticketholder today to receive immediate access to purchase event tickets before single tickets go on sale on September 5. Visit or call (760) 565-2476 for more information.

This year’s Star Contestants are artist and gallery-owner Marconi Calindas-Cafege; KESQ anchor Peter Daut; Eight4Nine pastry chef Albert Gonzalez; journalist and PR professional Barbara Kerr; Sotheby’s realtor Maria Patakas; Old Town Artisan Studios Director of Development Katie Thornton; and philanthropist Rich Weissman. They will each put their personal spin on a song under the mentorship of a Star Coach.

DET Artistic Director Jerome Elliott Moskowitz will direct, host, and lead the mentoring team. The Star Coaches are Darci Daniels, Christine Michele, Lizzie Schmelling, Broadway veterans Douglas Graham and Leslie Tinnaro, and last year’s winner, Christine Tringali Nunes. Chip Prince, with more than 20 years of Broadway and national tour experience, is music director.


DET presents the second annual edition of Singing with the Desert Stars after its highly successful inaugural in 2022. Conceived by community organizer Danny Kopelson, the evening brings focus to DET’s work with local high school students that offers them real-life work experience in technical theatre. In-turn, DET grants financial support to interns pursuing an education in the arts. To date, DET has granted nearly $29,000 in scholarships to well deserving senior interns.

The event’s winner is determined by the audience. All tickets include a pre-and post-performance reception at the theatre. There will be a raffle and a silent auction to raise additional funds for DET’s education program.

DET Executive Director Shawn Abramowitz said “The Alliance of Desert Theaters has identified the lack of technical support in the Coachella Valley as its most critical need. Without these resources, there would be no theater. DET is proud to see several of our prior interns and scholarship recipients working professionally with our company and with several of our peers.”

Season ticketholders save 16% on the four-play season and have advance access to purchase tickets to Singing with the Desert Stars (not included in subscription package). A season subscription to DET’s 13th Season, “Off Center at the Cultural Center,” which features two world premieres, includes:

Collective Rage: A Play In 5 Betties, by Jen Silverman. Directed by Kudra Wagner. Five different women named Betty collide at the intersection of anger, sex, and the “thea-tah.” Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties premiered off-Broadway in 2018. (Nov. 10­–12, 17–19).

The Lifespan of a Fact by Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell, and Gordon Farrell. Directed by David Youse. When Jim Fingal is assigned to fact check essayist John D’Agata’s work, the two come head to head in a battle over facts versus truth. Based on a book by D’Agata and Fingal, The Lifespan of a Fact premiered on Broadway in 2018. (Jan. 26–28, Feb. 2–4).

Ellie, by Bruce Bonafede (World premiere). Directed by Howard Shangraw. Two brothers in mourning engage in a confrontation that lays bare their life-long love/hate relationship and changes their lives forever. (Mar. 8–10, 15–17)

Sherlock Holmes Confidential by Tony Padilla (World premiere). Directed by Jerome Elliott Moskowitz. In an alternative version of the Holmes origin story, a spurned romance leads to someone threatening to unmask the young detective as a fraud. (Apr. 12–14, 19–21)

Performances are Fridays, 7:30pm; Saturdays 2:00pm and 7:30pm; and Sundays, 2:00pm.

DET is located at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Rd. in Palm Springs. For additional information visit or call 760-565-2476.

About Desert Ensemble Theatre. Founded in 2011 by Tony Padilla, DET is committed to producing innovative plays that underscore the complexity of human interaction. DET’s theatre internship program gives high school students practical, on-the-job experience working on professional theatrical productions. Each season, DET awards scholarships to graduating senior interns. To date the company has awarded almost $29,000 in scholarship support. Over the past 12 seasons, DET has garnered 41 Desert Star Awards from the Desert Theatre League.


  1. Singing with the Desert Stars, 2022. L-R: Jerome Elliott Moskowitz, Lizzie Schmelling, Christine Tringali Nunes. Credit: Barbara Kerr.
  2. Singing with the Desert Stars, 2022. Contestant Shay Moraga. Credit: Barbara Kerr.