Category Archives: Hollywood

Aerospace Engineer and theatre lover Ejike Ndefo joins Fountain Board of Directors

Ndefo CITIZEN opening night 2015

Ejike and Victoria Ndefo, Stephen Sachs, Opening Night ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’

The Fountain Theatre is pleased to welcome retired Aerospace Engineer Ejike Ndefo to its Board of Directors. Ejike and his wife, Victoria, are avid theatre lovers, and have been part of The Fountain Family for more than fifteen years.

“Victoria and I have been residents of Los Feliz for more than 30 years,” says Ndefo. “We love theatre and we fell in love with The Fountain Theatre the first time we saw a play there about 15 years ago.”

What was it about the Fountain that caught their eye and captured their hearts?

“We are continually impressed by the originality and quality of the plays at the Fountain, as well as the intimate environment,” he explains. “As such, The Fountain is a great place to see the plays of great writers.  We will be remiss if we do not mention the professionalism and friendliness of The Fountain staff. They have always been gracious.” 

Ejike NdefoEjike graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a doctorate in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.  While he was at the University of California, Berkeley, Ejike played a major role in the travelling theatre group raising money in support of the humanitarian effort in the Nigerian-Biafran war.  He worked in several Aerospace companies including Northrop Corporation, TRW, and The Aerospace Corporation on such programs as Space Defense Initiative, Space Shuttle, and design of large rockets for launch of spacecraft and satellites.  He retired as the Director of Fluid Mechanics Department from The Aerospace Corporation in August 2015 after forty one years.  For the past two years, Ejike has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Normandie Church of Christ, Los Angeles.

“It’s deeply gratifying when a longtime Fountain supporter like Ejike chooses to assume a role of leadership by joining our Board of Directors,” says Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “We share a love of the Fountain and a commitment to creating meaningful theatre for the city of Los Angeles. Ejike joins our Board at a pivotal time as we look forward and seek to broaden and enhance our artistic service to the community. ”  

New Casting Update: Seeking black actress for world premiere of ‘Runaway Home’ at Fountain Theatre

RUNAWAY HOME title imageUPDATE: The Fountain Theatre is casting for its upcoming world premiere production of Runaway Home by Jeremy J. Kamps, directed by Shirley Finney. Much of the cast is in place. The Fountain is still seeking the following supporting roles:

[SHANA] 35-45, Black, female. The unofficial “mayor” of the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans. Moral courage, brash exterior, soft interior, lives by high standards of truth, courage and morality and expects the same from others, loyal and on the flip side, holds grudges, can be stubborn and judgmental, but 100% reliable to be the foundation, indefatigable, righteous in a way that sometimes bleeds into not being realistic. 

STORYLINE: Set in New Orleans, Lower 9th Ward, three years after Hurricane Katrina. In this funny and deeply moving story, 14 year-old Kali embarks on a journey. Rhyming, stealing, and scamming her way through her still-destroyed neighborhood, engaging the lively folk who remain and running from her worried mother, Kali picks through the wreckage of what used to be her life and is forced to confront the cost of moving forward and embrace the loving power of family.

In addition still casting:

[ARMANDO] 35 to 45 years old, Mexican male. Owns and runs the small local store in the Lower 9th Ward, New Orleans. Has two daughters in Mexico. Guarded, vulnerable, empathetic, longing, wistful, independent, self-sufficient, courageous, inner-turmoil, soft but with a temper. He offers Kali a job in his store, trying to help the young runaway girl, which leads to a harrowing but hopeful end.

Rehearsals start August 7th. The production opens September 16th and runs to November 5th.  The Fountain Theatre operates under the new AEA 99 Seat Agreement. Auditions will be held next week.  

Email submissions to casting@fountaintheatre.com 

VIDEO: What makes the Fountain Theatre a successful home for LA artists and audiences?

 

Veteran TV producer and showrunner Clifton Campbell joins Fountain Theatre Board of Directors

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Clifton Campbell and his wife Kim at the 2017 Academy Awards. 

“The feeling I get sitting in a theatre just before the houselights fade is one that is very personal for me,” admits TV producer and writer Clifton Campbell. “Excitement for what’s about to unfold. The anticipation of bold ideas told through flawed and deeply human characters promising to take me to a richer understanding of a world outside my own. In that moment, I sit wondering not if this play is ready for me; but if I am ready for this play. For the shared human experience you can only get from live theatre.”

It is clear that the Fountain Theatre is ready for Clifton Campbell. The Fountain is pleased and honored to announce that veteran TV producer, showrunner and writer Clifton Campbell has joined the Fountain Theatre Board of Directors. 

“Cliff is passionate about developing a new program to engage parents who have children wanting to be writers,” says Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “He is also committed to building a bridge between the Fountain Theatre and the TV industry. He is eager to guide the forming of new relationships between the Fountain and TV professionals. Cliff is a smart guy with decades of experience as a TV producer, and his heart has never left the theatre. We are thrilled to have him on our Board of Directors.”

Clifton Campbell has enjoyed a career in television spanning more than 30 years. Recently, Clifton was Executive Producer for the TV series Sleepy Hollow.  He was also Executive Producer of White CollarThe GladesProfilerWiseguy, and others. He has partnered with such producers as Steven Spielberg, Stephen J. Cannell, and Michael Mann. 

Clifton was born and raised in Hialeah, Florida. He graduated from Florida State University and moved to Chicago to pursue a career as a playwright.

“The early eighties was an amazing time for theatre in Chicago,” remembers Campbell. “I was witness to ground-breaking new works and game changing productions from companies like Steppenwolf, St. Nicholas, The Goodman, Body Politic, Wisdom Bridge and Victory Gardens, all of whom were leading the charge in a new age of Regional Theatre. The six years I spent in Chicago theatre was the greatest education of my life.”

His work as a playwright caught the eye of producer/director Michael Mann, landing him a writing job on Mann’s TV series Crime StoryClifton‘s writing career took off and escalated to TV producing, but he always remained a theatre guy. He also became a family guy. Clifton and his wife Kim have been married for sixteen years and together have three grown children; Bailey, Jordan and Paige.

“The Fountain Theatre is everything I think of when I remember those incredible days back in Chicago,” says Campbell. “I am proud and excited to be joining its Board of Directors. ” 

Los Angeles shines as a theatre town

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The Fountain Theatre in Hollywood

by Stephen Sachs

Hollywood is heralded around the globe as the mesmerizing “movie capital of the world,” yet more plays are produced each year in Los Angeles than major motion pictures. In fact, Los Angeles has more live theaters and creates more theatre productions per year than any other city in the world. More than New York, Chicago or London. That’s right. Los Angeles. Surprised?

Los Angeles is on the rise. You can feel it. LA is ascending to rightfully take its place as a world city. It is already ranked as one of the world’s most economically powerful cities—a center of business, international trade, entertainment, culture, media, and technology. There are 841 museums and art galleries in the area, over 1,000 performance venues. Hollywood is flourishing, undergoing a multi-billion-dollar renaissance of new commercial, residential and cultural development that is transforming the fabled district. 

Theatre in Los Angeles has never been better. It is diverse, vibrant, first-rate—and everywhere. Stretched across an immense terrain of diverse neighborhoods over 469 square miles, you can experience theatre in Los Angeles in every possible setting. From tiny converted store fronts to festive outdoor stages in city parks to Off-Broadway-style intimate houses on trendy boulevards to grand and glittering show palaces—Los Angeles has it all. 

I’ve been a theatre maker in Los Angeles for more than 30 years. Like so many, I was first an actor, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. I transitioned to directing plays in 1987, leaving acting behind and never looking back. While building a career as a stage director, I became intrigued by how theatre companies operated. The business side of making art fascinated me. One day, I volunteered to work temporarily in the office at Ensemble Studio Theatre on Oxford Street in Hollywood. Soon I took over as Theatre Manager. In 1990, I worked with Joan Stein and Suzie Dietz at the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills, where we launched a 16-month run of A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters starring a parade of famous actors, including Ben Gazarra, Gena Rowlands, Christopher Reeve, Whoopi Goldberg, Charlton Heston, Robert Wagner, Matthew Broderick, Helen Hunt, and many more. That same year, I opened the Fountain Theatre with my colleague Deborah Lawlor and embarked on the most meaningful and rewarding journey of my artistic life.

The Fountain Theatre is a charming two-story Spanish-style building on Fountain Avenue in East Hollywood. Originally The Evergreen Stage, it had been a live theatre for more than 60 years. When Deborah and I first walked in and stood on its empty stage, we knew we had found our artistic home. There was something about the place, the cozy atmosphere, how the intimate seating warmly embraced the stage. It felt inviting and electric. We knew magic could happen there. 

The Fountain is now one of a bright constellation of intimate theatres shimmering throughout Los Angeles. This galaxy of small theatres, each singular in their programming, audience and artistic mission, is a construct utterly unique to Los Angeles. There is nothing like it anywhere in the country. LA’s Center Theatre Group, with its Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theatre, form a theatrical nucleus, yet the more than one hundred intimate theatres across the region swirl around it like spirited electrons, each carrying an electric charge that is fundamental for the survival of LA’s overall cultural organism. In Hollywood, Nederlander’s Pantages Theatre prove nightly that there is a vast audience for live performance. 

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Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles

I’ve seen the intimate theatre community in Los Angeles grow from a cluster of what was then called 99-seat “Equity Waiver” theaters in the 1980s to the vast network of hundreds of intimate theaters today. These theatres weave a rich artistic tapestry that is astounding in its range and variety, matching the cultural, racial and social diversity of this city. Los Angeles is now home to intimate theatres that serve audiences that are Black, Latino, Gay, Straight, Asian, Middle Eastern, LGBT, Deaf, Native American, and everything in between. The content on LA stages is equally wide-ranging. American classics, world premieres of new plays, Shakespeare, Chekhov, musicals, farce, adaptations, the avant garde, immersive pieces, plays staged in the round or in a black box, site specific works performed in empty warehouses, in cars or hotel rooms—an endless menu for every taste. 

hollywood-theatre-row-signLA’s intimate theatres have grown not only in number, they have increased in stature. Top-drawer actors from Broadway, TV and film are routinely seen on LA stages. And while Los Angeles remains an essential destination for acclaimed plays and musicals from New York, London and around the world, LA is now its own vibrant theatre center that creates and develops exciting new work. Much of the most satisfying and challenging new plays are being done in the intimate theaters. Actors long to act in these plays for the same reason we ache to produce them: for the sake of the art. LA’s network of smaller theatres provides a safe, fertile landscape where highly-skilled actors, directors and playwrights can bring new plays to life for audiences that are ever-growing, sophisticated and adventurous. More than 120 plays have transferred from LA’s intimate venues to regional theaters across the United Sates. Such world-class playwrights as Athol Fugard, Tarell McCraney and Robert Schenkkan have launched new plays at our modest home on Fountain Avenue that are now being enjoyed throughout the nation and around the world. 

Even with the staggering amount of high-quality activity on its numerous stages, Tinsel Town fights for the right to be called a “theatre town.” The Hollywood spotlight is blinding. The relationship between the film and television industry and the LA Theatre community is precarious. A forced marriage between two partners who share similar desires yet go about achieving them in vastly different ways and for very different reasons. LA Theatre still struggles to step out from under the shadow of The Industry and stand in its own rightful light. But its blaze is being seen and felt, locally and nationwide, more and more. 

As an artist and a citizen, it has never been a better time to live in Los Angeles. As a haven with invigorating potential and endless possibilities, LA is now peering forward and seeing its future. That vision, as a world city, looks bright. As Los Angeles shines, so does its theatre. And the radiance from our light will illuminate the nation and the world. 

This post originally appeared in Discover Hollywood magazine

New Fountain cafe chef Baltazar: “Great art should be accompanied by great food”

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Chef Baltazar Gaytan

If you’ve visited our Fountain Café in the last three months, you’ve already noticed the number of changes occurring. With its cheese and delicious snicker doodles topped with black Himalayan salt, its savory pastries, improved wines, finer coffee, its warm and inviting atmosphere, the Café is becoming the place to visit before and after shows here at the Fountain Theatre. Your Fountain Theatre experience is not complete without a drink on our rooftop patio, deep in discussion over the play you just saw.

We cannot talk about the Café’s stunning transformation without hailing our new breakout chef, Baltazar Gaytan. Originally from Salinas, California, Baltzar studied at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Academy in Pasadena and is wowing crowds with his inventive baked goods and dedication to the Café.

Cafe buzzing

The Fountain cafe busy and buzzing. 

While Baltzar’s skills speak for themselves, we sat down for a little Q&A to learn more about the Fountain’s chef and mastermind of the Café, as well as his goals for the future.

Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up and study cooking?

I grew up in a family of six with a single mother in Salinas, CA. We weren’t the most financially stable family, but it taught me to be resourceful and creative with my limited ingredients. A few years after high school, I decided to take a leap and decided to refine and expand my culinary knowledge at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Academy in Pasadena, CA.

Was there one person or one event in your life that turned you on to cooking? 

During my gap years, my mother became more ill due to a genetic kidney disorder that my family carries. Unfortunately, this brought on a great deal of dietary restrictions, limiting her to an incredibly bland diet. After doing more research, I began to understand what grains and proteins she could have, giving me the ability to make her flavorful dishes despite her restrictions. While she was stubborn about this at first, she began to look forward to see what I’ve created for her. The joy that I gave to my mother when she eat was the point when I decided that I had a talent and it should be shared with others to enjoy.

What is it about cooking that fuels your passion?

I love the magic that I get to make. I mean, look at some of the plates that chefs are doing. They are works of art. We have an open mind to where we almost never say no. If no answer is provided, we seek that knowledge in the hopes of having a culinary breakthrough. The one who discovers the perfect potion. Chefs can play mad scientist, we just try and try until we figure out the perfect potion.

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The outdoor balcony of the Fountain cafe. 

Had you been to the Fountain Theatre before becoming the new chef?

I have once back in January to see Bakersfield Mist. I was visiting my childhood best friend Marisela Hughes (Fountain’s Box Office Manager). I enjoyed the theatre and its intimate, classic theatre ambiance.

How did you become the new chef at the Fountain?

By faith actually, when I decided to move down to Hollywood, the Fountain has been looking for a chef to take over after Bakersfield Mist. Marisela was helping me look for a job and this one seemed to be the perfect match. The universe will tell us when to make a move. And if we don’t make them our selves, well, sometimes the universe will force us to make that change. It’s a growing opportunity and effect that is designed to happen. 

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Chef Baltazar

What kind of changes are you making to the new cafe? How is it now different?

When I walked into the café for the first time as Chef, I saw this vision of comfort, warmth with a little bohemian/Mediterranean chic, lanterns and a garden. Patrons can have a nice romantic dinner underneath the open sky with a glamorous view of the skyline of downtown LA. So here I am, providing quality product made by myself. I’m now providing as many in-home goods as I can possibly produce. Part of this is introducing a cheese course, our first introduction to savory goods. From there we work our way up based on demand and profit. I’d like to turn the Café into a bistro with warm foods and table-side service, being open on days that there isn’t a show going on. Great Performing Art should be accompanied by great food. I’m seeing brunches and dinner parties before the show happening in the future.

What are you hoping to achieve with the new Fountain cafe?

Success! I want to introduce myself as an artist and introduce the beauty in culinary arts. How ones own imagination can go beyond just the eyes, but into taste the stimulate memories and sensors—just like in the theatre.

March 2017 night

Fountain folk enjoy the cafe on a warm summer night. 

What words would you choose to describe the new Fountain café?

Welcoming, peaceful, fun, adorable, hidden oasis, no sense of time and space. These are a few words of which I’ve already heard people say about the New Café

How do you see a Fountain patron’s dining experience in the cafe complementing their experience of seeing a play here?

Well you’d start off with getting a great parking space. Not just that but you’re going to save yourself time. From transporting from place to place and, lets be real, finding parking in LA on a Saturday evening isn’t the most pleasant of task. But once you get here you’ll feel like you’re just at home. In an intimate setting just like our theatre, only a select few will be joining you in a journey that is unique, artistic and creative. No two menus will be alike. The Fountain Café will be the most exclusive dinning destination in Hollywood.

What can we look forward to in the cafe? Any new items or ideas you can share for what’s coming?

We’ve already implemented new items to the café such as gourmet cheese plates and freshly baked beer bread, complete with bacon marmalade and freshly whipped honey butter. We use fresh herbs from the herb garden that I began to grow on the porch, in many of the items now being served. I make a classic from a classic (i.e. PB&J Cookie) I’m letting you enter my mind of culinary imagination, where there is no walls. Brunch and dinner before the show are all on the horizon for the Fountain Café.

More on our website

PHOTOS: Dazzling opening night of ‘Building the Wall’ at Fountain Theatre

WALL Opening Night 6

An electrifying thrill filled the air Saturday night, March 18, as the Fountain Theatre opened the highly-anticipated world premiere of Building the Wall by Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Robert Schenkkan.  Even before opening, our bold National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere has earned national attention in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other outlets across the country.

The sold-out house Saturday night at the Fountain was packed with patrons, donors, board members, Fountain family and the press. Following the powerful performance, the crowd gathered upstairs in our indoor/outdoor cafe to enjoy a catered reception prepared by our new chef, Baltazar.  Playwright Robert Schenkkan and the cast were surrounded by well-wishers, congratulating them on an unforgettable evening in the theatre. By all accounts, it looks like the Fountain has another hit on its hands.  

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