Category Archives: Bakersfield Mist

Announcement: Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid to Star in London Premiere of ‘Bakersfield Mist’


Hit Play Originally Created, Developed and Launched at the Fountain Theatre 

Kathleen Turner will return to the West End to star opposite Tony-winning actor Ian McDiarmid in the U.K. premiere of Stephen Sachs‘ Bakersfield Mist, beginning performances May 10 at the Duchess Theatre prior to an official opening May 27.

Bakersfield Mist was created and produced at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles where Sachs is co-artistic director. The Fountain production, the first in a rolling world premiere supported by the National New Play Network‘s Continued Life of New Plays Fund, was a smash hit, earning rave reviews and running seven months including three extensions.

Inspired by true events the play asks vital questions about what makes art and people truly authentic. It won the 2012 Elliot Norton Award for Best New Play.

In the play, Maude (Turner), a fifty-something unemployed bartender, has bought a painting for a few bucks from the thrift store. Despite almost trashing it, she is now convinced it’s a Jackson Pollock worth millions. But when world-class art expert, Lionel Percy (McDiarmid), flies over from New York and arrives at her trailer park home in Bakersfield to authenticate the painting, he has no idea what he is about to discover.

In a press statement, Turner commented, “The shock and humor of diametrically opposed cultures with the transformative power of art – pure joy.” McDiarmid added, “I liked the idea and comic potential of two passionately opinionated cultural opposites engaged in a life-changing battle for the soul of a great painter.”

Nica Burns, co-producer of the play with Sonia Friedman Productions, Darren Bagert/Martin Massman and Chris & Kelbe Bensinger, added, “When we were lucky enough to hear Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid read the play for us, the chemistry between these two great stage actors was thrilling. It has been eight years since Kathleen stunned London audiences with her extraordinary award winning performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? This is a fantastic role for her return to the London stage.”

Turner, who is currently appearing in the title role of Mother Courage at Washington DC’s Arena Stage (through March 9), has previously appeared onstage on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Indiscretions, The Graduate, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and High. Other stage credits include The Killing of Sister George (Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven) andRed Hot Patriot: The Kick Ass Wit of Molly Ivins (Philadelphia Theater Center, LA’s Geffen, and DC’s Arena Stage).

McDiarmid, who is best known for his role as Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine in the “Star Wars” film series, has worked extensively in the theatre, including an 11-year stint when he was joint artistic director of London’s Almeida Theatre. He appeared there in Brian Friel’s Faith Healer, subsequently winning a Tony Award for reprising the role on Broadway in 2006. Other theatre acting credits include Life of Galileo for the RSC, Timon of Athens at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Emperor and Galilean at the National Theatre and Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse.

The play will be directed by Polly Teale, joint artistic director of Shared Experience, for whom she has directed Jane Eyre, Brontë, After Mrs. Rochester, Bracken Moor, Mary Shelley and Speechless, amongst others. She co-directed War and Peace in a co-production for the National Theatre and Mill on the Floss. “Brontë” has been adapted as a feature film for Film Squared/Pathé.

Playwright Stephen Sachs

Playwright Stephen Sachs

Playwright Stephen Sachs is co-artistic director of the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles. His other plays include Heart Song (Los Angeles 2013, Florida Rep 2014), Cyrano (LA Drama Critics Circle Award for Best New Play, Ovation Award nomination), Miss Julie: Freedom Summer (LADCC and LA Weekly Award nominations),  Gilgamesh  (Theater@Boston Court), Open Window (Pasadena Playhouse, Media Access Award), Central Avenue(PEN USA Literary Award Finalist), Sweet Nothing in my Ear (PEN USA Literary Award Finalist, Media Access Award), Mother’s Day, The Golden Gate (Best Play Award, Dramalogue) and The Baron in the Trees. He wrote the teleplay for “Sweet Nothing in my Ear” for Hallmark Hall of Fame which aired on CBS, starring Marlee Matlin and Jeff Daniels.

The London production will run at the Duchess TheatreMay 10 through August 30. The design team includes scenic designer Tom Piper, lighting designer Oliver Fenwick and sound designer Jon Nicholls.  Bakersfield Mist is produced in the West End by Nica BurnsSonia Friedman ProductionsDarren Bagert/Martin Massman and Chris & Kelbe Bensinger

Bakersfield Mist is a work of fiction. Although based on actual events, the characters and events in the play are fictionalized and are not intended to accurately depict or resemble any actual person or event, living or dead. Names, characters, places and incidents have been changed for dramatic purposes.

For more information, go to

LA Times Critics’ Favorites in 2011: “Bakersfield Mist”

The Times’ Theater Beat reviewers named their list of favorites in 2011, including:

Best Double Act

David C. Nichols: Jenny O’Hara and Nick Ullett of Bakersfield Mist.

Best Set Design

F. Kathleen Foley: Jeff McLaughlin’s hilariously detailed bargain basement set for Bakersfield Mist at the Fountain Theatre. We could truly believe that this tchotchke-strewn Bakersfield trailer was furnished straight out dumpsters. Ken Booth’s lighting design for the show was also terrific.

David C. Nichols: McLaughlin for Bakersfield Mist.

Happy Holidays from the Fountain Family!

Cheers! Last Chance to see BAKERSFIELD MIST!

Final Weekend!  Only 4 More Performances!

FR-SAT 8pm, SAT & SUN 2pm  (323) 663-1525     More Info

Stephen Sachs’ “Bakersfield Mist” optioned for London with an Eye to Broadway

Stephen Sachs

LOS ANGELES, CA – December 13, 2011 – Bakersfield Mist, the new play by Fountain Theatre co-artistic director Stephen Sachs, has been optioned by multiple Tony award-winning producer Sonia Friedman for productions in London and New York.

Sonia Friedman Productions has signed an option to produce the play on the West End in London with plans to bring it to New York for a subsequent Off Broadway or Broadway run. The cast and director have not been set.

 “I’m thrilled beyond belief and couldn’t be happier,” says Sachs. “With the expert care and pedigree of Sonia Friedman Productions, the play is in very good hands.”

Inspired by a true story, Bakersfield Mist imagines a meeting between foul-mouthed, unemployed, trailer park-dwelling Maude Gutman, who believes the painting she bought in a thrift store for $3 is really an undiscovered masterpiece worth millions, and stuffy New York art expert Lionel Percy who arrives to evaluate the work. The comedy/drama is a fiery and often hilarious debate over class, truth, value, and the meaning of art.

The play had its world premiere at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles in June, produced by Simon Levy and Deborah Lawlor, where it was supported in part by an award from the National New Play Network. Directed by Sachs and starring husband and wife actors Jenny O’Hara and Nick Ullett, the Fountain production received rave reviews and extended three times. It is now scheduled to close on December 18 following a six-month run and 114 sold-out performances.

Subsequent productions in theaters around the country have received a similarly enthusiastic response from critics and audiences alike.

Negotiations for the option between Sonia Friedman Productions and Sachs’ agent, the Susan Gurman Agency, began last June, just after the opening at the Fountain.

Sonia Friedman is one of London’s most prolific and significant theater producers responsible for some of the most successful theater productions in London and on Broadway including, most recently The Book of Mormon, The Mountaintop (with Samuel Jackson and Angela Bassett), Jerusalem (with Mark Rylance), Legally Blonde: The Musical, Private Lives (with Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross), Master Class (with Tyne Daly), and Betrayal (with Kristin Scott Thomas). Friedman is the recipient of 20 Tony Awards as well as dozens of other awards including Olivier, Evening Standard and New York Drama Desk awards. Sonia Friedman Productions (SFP) was formed in 2002 and is a subsidiary of the Ambassador Theatre Group, the large and highly-regarded network of independent theatres in the UK.

Thank You for Sharing: Comments from Audience Members of “Bakersfield Mist”

Daniel Bortz

Just a quick note to say how much my daughter and I enjoyed your play, Bakersfield Mist.  Since I love art, especially art from 1900 on, and especially the Abstract Expressionists, and Pollack. You had me before it even started. For my daughter it was her first “official” grown-up play. I just wanted to take a moment to let you to know I thought it was terrific, the theatre was full and the actors rocked it. May it travel far and wide. - Daniel Bortz (Dec 5)

Going to the theater can be a pleasure and such is the case with Bakersfield Mist currently at the Fountain Theatre. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe this production. But here are a few: Incredible script, brilliant acting, a performance that would easily win the hearts of the most demanding theatergoer. Move it to the Geffen or The Taper. The show demands to be seen. Thank you one and all. All the best. - Ronnie Greenberg (Dec 5)

Ellie Herman

What a lovely, thought-provoking, beautiful play!!  My God, the performances were wonderful– Jenny O’Hara had us laughing from the beginning and near tears at the end.  I was absolutely in suspense throughout about the painting–was it or wasn’t it?–and loved the resolution, which I didn’t expect at all.  I am so impressed by the complexity and depth of [the writing].  So concise and with so much meaning packed into such a small space.  So much to think about and talk about for a long time.  I woke up happily thinking and wondering about some of the arguments in the play.  All in all a wonderful evening–thank you! - Ellie Herman (Dec 3)

Thank you! Thank you! My sister and I really enjoyed Bakersfield Mist! What a great play, good writing and excellent acting by 2 great performers. We really enjoyed it. I can see why it has been extended again and again. -  Karen Hougaard

David Levinson

Just a quick note to say that we (finally) saw the play last night (after four sold-out attempts) and loved it.  The play was both very smart and moving and, I thought, really well-plotted. I also thought it was really funny. Jenny and Nick were both wonderful but, what was also great was that it has two terrific parts for older actors that should keep the play running for a long time to come, which I hope it does. - David Levinson (Dec 4)

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Final Two Weeks for Bakersfield Mist! Only 8 more performances! (323) 663-1525 or box office

Fountain Member Roy Allen calls ‘Bakersfield Mist’ “Miraculous!”

Roy Allen

I brought a guest to last Friday's performance of Bakersfield Mist and we were both swept away by the brilliant script and the masterful performance of two pros in their prime! The script was pitch perfect and the actors never put a wrong foot forward! Miraculous! Thank you for the uncompromising work and transcendent values this performance represents.

My compliments on the production itself - and the extraordinary reception it has won among LA audiences - but equally important, to the Fountain Theatre and it's management for the path you have chosen and the excellence and consistency you have achieved. It's truly astonishing in a town where theater on this level is a rare find!

My experience at the Fountain reminds me of when I lived in NYC and attended Broadway and Off Broadway performances. I didn't want to have to be concerned about the quality of the production. I wanted to count on a standard that would always be sufficient to allow me to be swept away by the experience of the play! Such is the character of the performances at the Fountain Theatre!



Roy Allen

Los Angeles

Bakersfield Mist runs to Dec 18 (323) 663-1525

“Bakersfield Mist”: Thank You for Sharing

We Love Hearing From You!

Recent Emails from Members of the Fountain Family: Everybody Loves “Bakersfield Mist”!

I love the Fountain Theatre and am glad to be a supporter. First class! -Bernadine Bednarz (Oct 20)

Jenny O'Hara signs an autograph after a performance.

We saw it and enjoyed it a great deal, and have recommended it to friends. - Valerie Fields (Oct 20)

This is truly a wonderful production and I hope it continues and travels throughout the state and country. In my many years as a theatre- goer, I have rarely enjoyed a performance more than the presentation of Bakersfield Mist. It inspires me to attend more of Fountain’s productions from my base in OC. Thank you thank you, thank you! – Leah Vasquez, Laguna Beach (Oct 20)

We saw the play on Saturday, and all four of us thought it was OUTSTANDING! Actually, we were not surprised, because ALL of your productions are outstanding. Keep up the good work. – Dorothy and Jules Burg (Oct 20)

The show is truly delightful and thought-provoking. Jenny gives a powerhouse performance! – Kevin High (Oct 20)

Kudos to all at the Fountain continuing to perform in excellence. We are proud members and will continue to be. Love to all, Dominic and Armida Rubino (Oct 20)

Thank you! Thank you! My sister and I really enjoyed Bakersfield Mist! What a great play, good writing and excellent acting by two great performers. We really enjoyed it. I can see why it has been extended again and again. – Karen Hougaard (Oct 9)

We really enjoyed the show. Acting was excellent and the detailed set amazing. I will tell my friends and urge them to go. We went on the advice of our daughter. – Val Fields (Oct 3)

My wife and I attended last Thursday nites performance. We both rate it a 10 from all standpoints, including acting, stage design, and of course the superb writing. Congrats to all. You are ready for Broadway, but the Fountain will do for us, as the productions are always first rate and the cost of gas is much cheaper than airline tickets to the Big Apple. Thanks for a wonderful evening! – Stephen Dem (Sept 27)

Last night when I went to see “Jolson at the Winter Garden” [at the El Portal in North Hollywood]. About ten minutes to curtain, these two ladies were just raving about Bakersfield Mist. They were seated right behind me and they kept going on and on about the show with everyone in the aisle, including a couple of women seated in my aisle. They were going so far as telling people (strangers!) how to get to the Fountain and the whole husband and wife angle. It was really sweet. Talk about word of mouth! They were still prattling on about Bakersfield Mist as the house lights went down. You got all of LA talking!! – Michelle (Sept 23)

Prof. Richard Walter, UCLA

Sachs is a freakin’ genius!!! The performances were absolutely stupendous! Brilliant set and tech work. I’m putting out the information to all our students at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and TV. I’m also going to recommend it to the several hundred students in my screenwriting fundamentals course. – Prof. Richard Walter (Sept 26)

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Bakersfield Mist now playing to Dec 18. (323) 663-1525     Order Tickets Online

Theater Students from Campbell Hall High School Visit “Bakersfield Mist”

Theater students from Campbell Hall High School on the set of "Bakersfield Mist"

At last night’s performance of Bakersfield Mist, art expert Lionel Percy was not the only visitor to Maude Gutman’s bizarre and colorful trailer park home. Maude also welcomed 20 theater students from Campbell Hall High School who attended the performance and enjoyed a Q&A Talk Back with the cast immediately following.

The Campbell Hall students are in rehearsal themselves, preparing their upcoming school production of Brecht’s Good Person of Szechuan, directed by drama teacher Josh Adell. The students finished their after-school rehearsal on campus last night at 7pm in North Hollywood then climbed into a small bus and dashed over to Hollywood to catch the 8pm curtain at the Fountain.

A conversation between the cast and the audience.

After the performance, actors Jenny O’Hara and Nick Ullett were joined on stage by writer/director Stephen Sachs for an informal Q&A discussion with the Campbell Hall students and the general audience. The theater students asked the artists many questions about acting, playwriting, how the play was developed, how an actor prepares for a role, and sought advice on starting their own careers in the professional theatre. It was a fun and lively chat, filled with laughter and words of good advice.

Actors Nick Ullett and Jenny O'Hara discuss the play.

Campbell Hall students with the "Bakersfield" cast

When it was all over, the students gathered on stage with the cast for a final photo together. Then off they went, scampering back onto the bus for the drive back into the Valley. Reflecting on the wonderful night at the theatre they just enjoyed, and looking eagerly ahead to their own next rehearsal.

Nick Ullett: From Connoisseur to Crime Boss

Actor Nick Ullett is earning rave reviews as the snooty art expert Lionel Percy in the critically acclaimed Fountain hit, Bakersfield Mist. His performance hailed as a tour de force. Who could imagine that, within the same actor, lives not only the hilariously thoughtful, gentle, sophisticated, highly intelligent and erudite Lionel Percy but also Big Alan, a ruthless, menacing, unethical, sinister mobster? Find out when you see Geezas, the soon-to-be-released movie featuring Nick Ullett.

Nick Ullett as Big Alan in "Geezas"

Geezas is a British gangster movie,” explains Nick.  “I play the head of the family. Big Alan. I send my son, Dodger, to Los Angeles to retrieve his baby sister and the cash she ran away with. Things don’t go as planned, putting Dodger and his new crew (Eddie, a hipster bookie and Jones, an underground boxer) in the sights of Latino gangbangers and West Hollywood’s Gay Mafia.”

The notorious character Nick plays? He dryly describes him: “Big Alan is a family man who has no scruples when it comes to business.”

Nick as art expert Lionel Percy in "Bakersfield Mist"

“This was a wonderful experience of working with young actors and directors (yes there are two of them) who decided that they wanted to make a movie and DID IT. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it was.”

Speaking of fun — if you haven’t yet seen Nick and his wife (and co-star) Jenny O’Hara in the smash hit comedy/drama Bakersfield Mist   you’re in luck! The funny and thought-provoking new play about art has been extended (3rd time) to December 18th. For tickets call (323) 663-1525 or click here.

“Bakersfield Mist” Held Over Again for Third Time; Final Extension to Dec 18

The critically-acclaimed new playBakersfield Mist has extended for a third time at The Fountain Theatre, through December 18.

Hailed as “Critic’s Choice” in the Los Angeles Times, the world premiere comedy, written and directed by Stephen Sachs and starring husband-and-wife actors Jenny O’Hara and Nick Ullett, has been playing to sold-out houses and earning standing ovations since it opened last June.

The imagined meeting of foul-mouthed, unemployed, trailer park-dwelling Maude Gutman, who believes the painting she bought in a thrift store for $3 is really an undiscovered masterpiece worth millions, and stuffy New York art expert Lionel Percy who arrives to evaluate the work, was inspired by a true story. The comedy/drama is a fiery and often hilarious debate over class, truth, value, and the meaning of art.

The Los Angeles production has received rave reviews containing superlatives such as “Exhilarating” (Los Angeles Times); “A triumph!” (Back Stage); “Delightful” (LA Weekly); “Exquisite” (BroadwayWorld); “Brilliant” (On Stage Los Angeles); “A delight” (; “Spectacular” (Santa Monica Daily Press); “Terrific” (Park La Brea News/Beverly Press); “A laugh riot” (; “Entertaining and provocative” (Buzzine); “Yum!” (; “Wow!” (StageSceneLA); “A knock out” (; and “A jewel of a play” (Frontiers). “Now I know why ‘Bakersfield Mist’ has been selling out every night,” editor Mike Napoli recently posted on To read all of the reviews in their entirety, visit

The Fountain Theatre production marks the world premiere of Sachs’ play. A second production recently concluded a successful run at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre in Wellfleet, MA; a third is scheduled to open at the New Jersey Repertory Company in December; and a fourth opens at New Repertory Theatre in Watertown, MA, near Boston, in February. Plans for other future productions nationwide and in the UK are underway.

The Fountain Theatre production of Bakersfield Mist is supported in part by the National New Play Network‘s flagship program, the Continued Life of New Plays Fund, which is a cooperative venture designed to ensure that new plays see future productions beyond the initial world premiere.