Tag Archives: internship

Annie Barker is searching for the meaning of life and a good cup of coffee

Annie Barker at FT desk 6.5.17

Annie Barker

Hello Fountain Family! My name is Annie Barker and I will be the Production Intern at the Fountain Theatre this summer. I’m an incoming senior at Loyola Marymount University, studying Theatre Arts and English because I thrive under the looming cloud that is inevitable unemployment. Outside of the theatre, I love going to Disneyland, volunteering at animal shelters, and searching for a good cup of coffee.

I grew up in the rainy city of Portland, Oregon. I found comfort within the rows of Powell’s City of Books. A voracious reader, I would always ask my dad what the books he was reading were about. He would respond with “a man searching for the meaning of life.” As a nine year old, this response was incredibly annoying. As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve realized the importance of this question. As a result, I seek to write, create, watch, and perform stories that follow the convoluted path to the meaning of life.

I am interested in any and all aspects of the theatre, though I have found the greatest joy and rewards in acting, directing, and playwriting. This past fall I made my full-length directing debut with Neil LaBute’s reasons to be pretty. This project helped me confirm my love for directing, leading me to my current project—a senior thesis production of Ruby Rae Spiegel’s Dry Land. While choosing to do a play about abortion at a Catholic Jesuit university may seem challenging, it is the challenge that makes me want to tackle this piece head on.

Theatre people love using the phrase blessed. Take a quick glance in any program and you will see “so-and-so is so blessed to be…” However, I believe that blessed is the only way to describe how I feel to be working with Fountain Theatre this summer. I cannot wait to dive into this work, helping a theatre company do the exact thing I aspire to do in all of my work—creating work that matters, stimulates conversation, and pushes us to examine our own lives and purpose.

That being said, I am so honored to be a part of this family and look forward to the craziness and creation this summer will entail. Let the journey begin!

This internship is sponsored by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission

A powerful performance and a heartfelt goodbye for now

Victoria last day Aug 2016

Last day as the Fountain 2016 summer intern 

by Victoria Montecillo

Last week, I got to see the Fountain’s current production: a new Tennessee Williams piece called Baby Doll. The circumstances of how this piece came to the stage were a bit unorthodox for a Williams play. It started out as a screenplay adaptation of an older Williams one-act play called 27 Wagons Full of Cotton. Williams adapted it for film in 1956, and it wasn’t until recently that Emily Mann and Pierre Laville re-adapted the film for the stage. I was very curious to see this piece that had started out as a one-act before going to film and then back to the stage. There must have been something truly powerful about the story itself to go back and forth between those mediums.

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“Baby Doll” movie (1956)

I certainly wasn’t wrong about that. Baby Doll is a powerful, immersive story. The events that unfold keep you on edge throughout the show. On top of that, watching this piece in the Fountain’s intimate house made it even more impactful. I felt like I was directly in the story with these characters, with a direct stake in what happened to them. After the show, I watched the 1956 film version of Baby Doll, and it felt like the biggest thing missing was the immediacy and urgency that the staged version, particularly in the Fountain, provided the audience. Other than that main difference, however, the play stayed very true to Williams’ original screenplay – the original dialogue was mostly preserved, and the details of the story were almost identical. In comparing the two, it was clear that this particular story was even more powerful when it was right in your face, up close and personal. 

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‘Baby Doll’ at the Fountain

The Fountain’s production takes a physically and emotionally abusive and manipulative marriage between Baby Doll, a young and impressionable woman, and Archie Lee Meighan, an angry and lonely older man, and pushes it into the audience’s faces, forcing them to confront the uncomfortable dynamics of domestic violence and abuse. The audience is confronted with the uncomfortably predatory nature of their marriage, before we are met with Silva Vacarro, a handsome younger man who seems to be Archie Lee’s opposite in every way. He’s charming, mysterious, and Baby Doll clearly finds him intriguing. He is clearly Baby Doll’s true romantic interest, as well as the foil to Archie Lee’s unpredictable anger and abuse.

BABY DOLL LullabyJust when I thought the story was leading in a predictable direction, though, it became clear that Silva had ulterior motives for flirting with Baby Doll. We spend the majority of the rest of the show watching him alternate between seducing her and emotionally manipulating her for information. I felt a strange discomfort watching them, because I wasn’t sure whether or not I was rooting for them to be together. They clearly had chemistry, so much so that watching their characters together in such a small theatre felt like I was invading their privacy somehow. At the same time, there were moments where he was clearly prodding her for information by pushing her boundaries, or by making her feel special and tended to in a way that he knew she wasn’t getting with Archie Lee. By this time, I was quite literally on the edge of my seat, watching with bated breath to see what would happen next. There were moments where I was sure Silva would get rid of Archie Lee somehow and he and Baby Doll would run off together into the sunset. But then there were other moments where I really couldn’t tell if he truly cared for Baby Doll at all, or if he was just a master manipulator.

This kind of theatre is of a special type: the kind that makes you think and confront difficult, uncomfortable issues, and provokes thought and visceral emotions from its audiences. Theatre is such a special way to present and portray relationships between people, in a way that makes you feel and think about the nature of human connection. The power of the story, as well as the amazing talent and chemistry between the actors in this company, reminded me that theatre can do so much; it is meant to confront and provoke, and to tell stories that audiences can connect to in some way.

Victoria Montecillo at desk June 2016 cropped

Victoria Montecillo

I felt very lucky to get to see not just one but three Fountain productions in my time here. My Mañana Comes, Forever Flamenco at the Ford, and Baby Doll were certainly all incredibly different from one another, but they all had an impact on me: they brought forth an important message or story, or provided an outlet for a vibrant but underexposed community to celebrate beautiful art. All of them presented a piece of art, with performers and creators that had a clear passion and message.

Victoria Twiiter pic

Signing off!

These shows have made me proud to be a part of the Fountain family, and to get to work at such an organization. This blog post is bittersweet for a lot of reasons, the biggest of which is that today is my last day working at the Fountain. I’m moving up to San Francisco the day after tomorrow, and I’m going to miss the Fountain family so so much. I am so thankful to everyone here at the Fountain, and at the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, that made these past ten weeks possible! I know that I have people rooting for me here, and I’m so grateful for that.

This is me signing off – thank you to all that followed my internship saga and read my musings on theatre and arts. And thank you to everyone in the Fountain family for this journey. I wouldn’t feel at all prepared to jump into my next adventure if it had not been for all of you, and all I learned from you!

Our thanks to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the LA County Arts Commission for the support of their LA  County Arts Intern program. 

The night I went from selling flamenco fans to becoming one

FORD Merch table Victoria Sela

Victoria Montecillo and Marisela Hughes

by Victoria Montecillo

This past weekend was the biggest event of the summer for the Fountain: Forever Flamenco at the Ford. Since I’ve been working here at the Fountain, this event was something we were all working towards, and I found myself growing more curious and excited to see what all of the fuss was about. As a newcomer, Forever Flamenco sounded like an amazing opportunity to showcase a beautiful and unique art form to the communities of Los Angeles. In the weeks leading up to the big night, everyone in the office kept telling me about the fervor and passion of the flamenco community, and that I had to just wait to see it for myself. No amount of preparation, however, could have prepared me for the experience. 

FORD seats fansOn the day of the show, I came to the venue early with the rest of the Fountain family in order to put out the VIP gift bags (I had spent the weeks leading up to the show working very hard to make sure the bags were all ready and had what they needed, so I was very proud of them), and set up a merchandise table up front. By the time it got to be about two hours before curtain, I started to notice a sizable crowd gathered outside, ready and waiting with picnic baskets. Once the gates opened, people came streaming in, chatting excitedly and eyeing our merchandise and flamenco fans as they passed our merchandise table. And once the gates had opened, the people just kept streaming in. There were people laughing and eating together, and greeting others in what felt like a true community. 

Many of the people who approached our table were loyal, longtime flamenco fans who loved and appreciated the Fountain’s commitment to producing flamenco. Others were drawn to our beautiful fans, where they shared that this was their first flamenco show. It was amazing to see and be able to meet all of the different people that were in attendance at this big event, and to get to feel the pure excitement in the air.

FORD Merch table

Barbara Goodhill, Victoria Montecillo and Marisela Hughes at the merchandise table.

The show itself was truly something to see. With the extent of my knowledge about flamenco being pretty much the dancing lady emoji and the sounds of fervent stomping and complex guitar riffs coming from the rehearsal room of the Fountain that week, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I certainly could not have anticipated the raw passion and artistic skill that I saw in each of those performers. What I found to be most striking about watching these flamenco musicians and dancers was that each one of them seemed so happy to be there. They were all doing what they loved most, with a group of artists that understood that passion. 

FORD 2016 prod photo 1

On top of that, I could feel the excitement and joy in the crowd around me throughout the show. During each number, the audience would interject with enthusiastic applause, clapping, and excited cheers. Families around me grabbed each other’s shoulders and clasped each other’s hands as they shouted encouragements to the musicians and the dancers as they did what they do best, and I truly felt like I was experiencing a new community full of joy, passion, and celebration. It was a truly unique and amazing experience. 

I am so grateful to everyone at the Fountain, as well as the fantastic team of flamenco artists, for introducing me to the beautiful community of flamenco. I certainly hope I’m able to witness something like this again in my life.

Victoria Montecillo is the Fountain Theatre’s 2016 Summer Arts Intern. We thank the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission for their support. 

Creative Community: The arts in LA is an inspiring world unto itself

1by Victoria Montecillo

On June 29, I, along with 131 other LA County Arts Commission interns, attended an arts summit held in Pasadena. Having never before attended a professional-type conference before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It seemed like a great opportunity to meet other people in the intern program at different organizations, and learn more about the arts world in LA. I was excited, mainly, to attend my first conference! It all felt very grown-up and professional, and I was excited to learn. 

After checking in at the Pasadena Playhouse and picking which workshops I wanted to attend, I spent the first part of my morning nibbling at a blueberry mini muffin and avoiding small talk. As a naturally introverted person, I’m not one to comfortably strike up casual conversation with strangers; it takes me a little bit to warm up the gears of my social side. Eventually, we all migrated inside the Playhouse for a lovely welcome from the Playhouse’s artistic director, as well as some from the LA County Arts Commission and the mayor of Pasadena. It was certainly very inspiring to be so warmly welcomed and encouraged by people who had found fulfilling work in the arts; they spent the morning encouraging us to follow our passions, and work to create real change. 

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Pasadena Playhouse Artistic Director Sheldon Epps welcomes the interns.

Afterwards, we split into smaller groups and headed to separate locations. My group headed to the Pasadena Museum of California Art, where we got a private welcome and got to explore the work of California artists. We then got a backstage tour of the Pasadena Playhouse, where Playhouse volunteers told us all about the green room, the costume shop, the scene shop, and the library. As someone who absolutely loves seeing the backstage areas of any theatre, I was absolutely thrilled. After that, we walked over to First United Methodist Church, where we saw a beautiful site specific piece by the Jacob Jonas Dance Company. Essentially, we spent the morning being exposed to the different corners of the LA arts world, where we got to meet and talk with artists that were working towards their passions and were excited to share it.

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Victoria Montecillo

For lunch, we got together with our peer groups, a group of other LA County interns from the same geographic area. I got to meet some wonderful people working at a lot of different organizations. Some were working at theaters like me, while others were working for music non-profits or arts-based community outreach organizations. Even though we were in a crowded, noisy room, it was interesting to go around and hear everyone’s stories and where they came from, and how they ended up in this intern program. Some of the people I met were not necessarily interested in working in the arts world, but they were incredibly passionate about working in social justice and reaching out to Los Angeles neighborhoods. Everyone had a different perspective to bring, and different stories about their experiences to share. It was nice to hear about everyone’s experiences as interns, and the kinds of work they were doing. A few people were interested in pursuing graphic design, some were interested in music and arts education, and others were interested in theatre. I liked that we were a good mix among our group of various interests, because it gave us a wide range of perspectives. Alma Villegas, our wonderful Peer Group Leader from artworxLA, led us along our discussion and made sure to check in with all of us on whether or not we were enjoying our internships so far. It was comforting to feel that (other than my Fountain family of course) I had another community to fall back on, that would offer me help and support if I needed it. 

3After lunch, we split up from our peer groups to attend a workshop of our choosing. I attended a workshop on Public Engagement in the Arts, led by some truly inspirational people from Cornerstone Theatre Company and the Ford Theatres. They started off by keeping us on our feet, moving to different corners of the room for different things (e.g. “Move to this corner if you’re the youngest in your family, this corner if you’re the oldest,”), gradually picking more thought-provoking topics before ending with creating a line with one end being “art for art’s sake”, and the other end being “art for social justice”. This made us all think about why we were there, and what drives us. 

We then got to hear from Cornerstone and the Ford Theatres, and more specifically, the kind of work that they do in community engagement. My experience with community engagement from theaters is still quite limited, so it was certainly very educational to hear about the new and original ways other theatres were working to stay engaged with the communities around them. It was amazing to hear about Cornerstone, actually casting and creating shows with members of their community, and going out to neighborhoods and to the people to collaborate on creating a piece of art. And to hear from the Ford Theatres, and their work in spreading cultural awareness through free interactive workshops on dance and song. It was beautiful to see and hear about people in the community excited about the arts, and sharing it with the younger and older generations. 

Afterwards, I went to a session on Equity & Inclusion in the Arts, where we were told about the LA County Cultural Equity and Inclusivity Initiative. It was essentially a “town hall” meeting, where we were invited to share our comments, stories, and suggestions in order to help make change in policies. While it was not exactly what I expected, I learned a lot simply from listening to my peers discuss the challenges and obstacles they had all faced as people of color pursuing the arts. One suggestion that I found incredibly valuable (and, seemingly, somewhat intuitive) was the suggestion to offer opportunities to regularly have open discussions like the one we were having, where people had the chance to express their feelings in a safe environment. Sometimes, the first step to making change is creating the opportunity to discuss these issues openly, where people can feel they are being heard. 

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I want to thank the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and their wonderful internship program, as well as the Fountain Theatre, for giving me such a unique opportunity to meet other inspiring people pursuing fulfilling and meaningful careers in the arts world. I am learning so much more this summer than I ever anticipated.

Victoria Montecillo is our 2016 arts intern this summer at the Fountain Theatre, made possible through the support of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission Internship Program.  

High school freshman proves she can pound nails with the best of them

Ava Morgan

Ava Morgan

Ava Morgan may be slight of build — with smart eyes and a bright smile — but she’s a powerhouse at building sets. The enthusiastic high-schooler joined our stage carpentry team as part of a two-week summer internship program at the Fountain. 

Ava lives with her family in Los Angeles and is a freshman at Marlborough School in Hancock Park. She got interested in the technical backstage life of theatre — props, lights, set building — in 7th grade. For two years, she performed a variety of backstage jobs in plays at school. Marlborough Technical Director, Doug Lowry, was impressed and eager to encourage her growth and education.

“He asked me if I’d be interested in interning at a professional theater for a few weeks during the summer,” Ava explains. “When we talked about it more, he brought up the Fountain and we decided to give it a shot. It worked out great.”

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Lowry contacted Stephen Sachs at the Fountain Theatre and Ava was immediately put to work as an intern building sets for our upcoming West Coast Premiere of Tennessee Williams’ Baby Doll. As a stage carpenter, she was cutting lumber, building flats and platforms, and putting it all together with the rest of the professional team. Soon, she was also climbing ladders, striking and hanging lights. 

“I absolutely liked working at the Fountain,” she beams. “I am not sure exactly what I expected it to be, especially since this was my first time having a job of sorts outside of school. I liked working in areas that I have basic training in, but have not had the opportunity to focus on them at school. I think it actually was a good thing to do it in an unfamiliar setting with people I haven’t worked with before.”

Foremost was Scott Tuomey, the Fountain Technical Director for 26 years who has overseen every production since the theatre’s founding in 1990. He mentored Ava’s internship, guiding her through the techniques of professional stage craft. 

“I had a lot of one-on-one time with Scott,” says Ava. “Which allowed me to ask more questions than I would in a group setting and learn more about not only what to do and how to do it but why. I had a great time working with him.”

And, says Ava, it was a valuable educational experience. 

“I think one of the most important things I learned was how to communicate with coworkers who were older and more experienced than me, ” she admits. “I also learned much more about how to translate designs into sets and the various skills related to carpentry.”

Her brief internship now over, Ava is enjoying some summer vacation time with her family before returning to school. She is grateful for her time at the Fountain and sends “a huge thanks to everyone who made it happen.”

Will she come back to see her handiwork on Baby Doll when it opens at the Fountain?

“Definitely!” she beams. “I’m excited to see the final product.” 

Still feeling the power of ‘My Mañana Comes’ at Fountain Theatre

MY MAÑANA COMES

Lawrence Stallings, Pablo Castelblanco, Richard Azurdia, Peter Pasco

by Victoria Montecillo

Last weekend, I got to watch our production of My Mañana Comes on its closing weekend. It’s three days later, and I’m still thinking about it. After hearing about the show and the kind of work that the Fountain produces from Stephen Sachs and Barbara Goodhill, I was eager to see the work in action. I knew that the show was about four busboys in a high-end restaurant, and that the show would touch on issues surrounding immigration and fair pay, but I was otherwise walking in with no expectations of what I was about to see. 

Elizabeth Irwin cropped

Playwright Elizabeth Irwin

One of the first things that captured me within the first couple of scenes was the reality of it all. I knew the playwright was a woman, and I was stunned at her ability to capture the conversations between these young men so well. I could feel each unique voice and personality from the four characters, which only made the story even more riveting. 

I felt like this play really sneaks up on you, in the best way possible. For a while, it’s just four guys working in a kitchen trying to make ends meet, teasing each other, and sharing their lives with one another. And in the next moment, you’re suddenly aware of how much you care about each of these men. They’re each dealing with their own set of challenges, and you can feel yourself rooting for them. And suddenly you’re watching these characters you care about struggling to fight for equal pay, providing for their families, and maintaining their friendships with each other. 

As a theatre geek, I have to say that I have a soft spot for powerful pieces of theatre that don’t have a happy ending. They end, instead, by giving the audience something to think about, and with the gut-wrenching realization that theatre is, in fact, an avenue for real stories about real people. Perhaps after the show that I saw, the actors all came out smiling and ready to answer all of our questions and discuss the piece in an illuminating and inspiring talkback, but stories like that don’t always end that way. This piece, and the incredible actors in the cast, were telling a much bigger story of real struggle. 

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On top of all of that, the audience gets to witness all of this unfold in the Fountain’s cozy, 78-seat theatre. Their space made us feel like we were all apart of this story, and part of the action. Seeing this particular piece in such a small space helped me realize how effective it can be to tell stories in a smaller space, where there seems to be no separation or distance between the performers and the audience. Everything is shared, and that makes the experience all the more powerful. 

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Pablo Castelblanco and Peter Pasco

Another thing I really appreciated about this production was how well it brought to light very specific perspectives within cultural identity. In the talkback with the cast after the show, which was moderated by Stephen Sachs, an audience member praised actor Peter Pasco for his portrayal of Whalid, a young Mexican-American man with no claim to his own heritage. Pasco responded to the audience member, expressing the difficulty that many first-generation and second-generation Americans have with the culture of their families, especially when visiting their “home countries”. As I clearly remember him explaining his own experiences in relation to Whalid’s in the talkback, “When I’m here in the United States, everyone sees me as Peruvian, even though I feel that I’m American. But when I’m in Peru visiting my family, I don’t feel like a Peruvian at all.” His words deeply resonated with me, as a first-generation Filipino-American. Getting to see a character like that onstage, as well as hearing the actor speak about it so eloquently afterwards, was a very special feeling. 

Victoria Montecillo at desk June 2016 cropped

Victoria Montecillo

It was sad to see such a beautiful piece as My Mañana Comes in its closing weekend, but I felt lucky to be apart of one of the many audiences that got to see such a powerful piece at the Fountain, with an unbelievable cast bringing such an important story to life. One of the most inspiring things to see after the show was all of the people in the audience who were clearly so moved by the performance; there was one woman behind me who clearly wanted to express her gratitude to the actors for sharing such an important story, but she was far too overcome with emotion. There were countless people around me who made a point of thanking the actors and the Fountain Theatre for bringing such an important and relevant piece to audiences in this community, and I was again reminded of the magic and power of live theatre, and all it can do to bring communities together through art and storytelling.

Meet new Fountain intern Lexi Lallatin: “I believe in the power of theater”

Lexi

Lexi Lallatin

by Lexi Lallatin

As I am the new intern at the Fountain Theatre, I am supposed to tell you a little bit about myself. Where do I start?

Do I tell you that I can spend hours arguing my opinion on all things nerdy? (SuperWhoLockTer, Comics, Buffy. Try me.) I could mention that I have been compared to Leslie Knope more times than I’ve been to the gym. Should I mention that the fastest way to my heart is through Thai food? How do I even begin to scratch the surface?

I guess it’s best to start with my testimony of theatre. Testimony? That’s a strong word, Lexi. Yes, yes it is. But I believe in the power of theater, and that’s probably the number one thing you should know about me.

Lexi 2When I was a small child I imagined being famous. Not just in the vague sense that most children have, but I honed in on all the small details. I drew up lighting motifs that would spell my name behind me on stage (all purple and grey obviously). I practiced small talk for all interviews I was sure to be on (“oh Oprah, of course I sponsor Pokemon”). I knew that my stage name would be Lexi Lou (because I was too young to realize that it sounded like a stripper name). I had on my rose colored glasses and all the world was a stage, a stage in which revolved around me and how awesome I was.

I grew up in Oregon, the hub of children’s’ theaters and Shakespeare. At a young age, I didn’t necessarily have talent, but I was outgoing and had the ability to speak without a lisp so I got a fair amount of parts right off the bat. That led to acting lessons at some of the local children’s theaters and soon all my time was spent on one stage or another.  In fact I probably saw the fake set walls of charming houses more than I did my own house.

As I got older I stopped getting as many lead roles, and started getting more roles in the chorus. At first it was disheartening. My goal was to be famous and I didn’t see how being Whore #1 in Les Mis was going to lead me there. The sentence “There are no small parts, only small actors” became the bane of my existence. But I made a decision it was better to be singing the same alto notes in the chorus than be sitting home alone. And I’m glad I did because that’s when theater itself stopped being about the service it could be to promote me, and started being about the story, the experience, and the family.

Once on this IslandIn the musical Once on this Island it says “Our lives become the stories that we weave.” I have found this to be true. The plays I have worked on have forced me to look at my own set of beliefs and build upon them. Plays have taught me how to fight for my convictions, and what happens when society doesn’t. They have taught me how to empathize with people who hold beliefs other than myself. And most of all they taught me the importance of working with a family. A family of fellow artists who are all aspiring to the same vision. Theater isn’t just the exuberant final performance. It’s everything in between. It’s posting audition sheets, late night set construction, and ticket sales. Theater isn’t a star, it’s a group. And I wanted to do anything to be part of that group.

I went to BYU and studied Theater Education. My dreams started evolving less into starring roles and more into how to share and spread theater. I know I want to start my own childrens’ theater. I want to work with children and see them go from being the stars in their own lives to realizing how not only theater, but life, is all about the way we work and help each other.

So through the years I have tried to work in every aspect of theater. I have acted, directed, stage-managed, front of housed, ushered, advertised, managed, did lighting, built sets, for many different theater companies around Oregon and Utah. This past year I was in Australia had the experience to intern at Holden Street Theater helping see to all the daily tasks of running a theater.

Which brings me to now.

FT JTI am so excited to now be joining The Fountain Theatre. Los Angeles itself is daunting to me, but the wonderful family here has been nothing but welcoming and kind. It’s importance to not only the artists, but the community as a whole can be profoundly felt. I am so eager to learn all the things it has to offer, and more so to hear from you guys how it has impacted your lives as well.

I am so excited to be joining your community, your family. When I look back on the little girl, stealing microphones and dancing in tutus I think she would choose the love that emanates from this tight-knit theater over a thousand nameless fans any day.