I run the Fountain Theatre’s charming upstairs café. Normally, Fridays at the Fountain would be the start of a five-show weekend through Monday night. Six, if we had a Sunday evening Flamenco show as well. There would be a palpable energy in the air.
But on Friday, March 13th, LA’s growing COVID crisis had become critical. The public portions of the theatre – the stage and the café – had been shuttered. The offices were being closed as well.
I should have been working on Friday, March 13th. By 4pm, Pandora would have been rocking one of my favorite show tune stations, and I’d have been singing along with Wicked and A Chorus Line and Into the Woods behind the closed café door as I got the coffee going, bagged chips and cookies for sale, and chatted with local baker Tracy Green when she delivered her weekly order of scrumptious organic mini muffins. I would have caught up with staff when they wandered in for coffee or a snack. I would have arranged fresh flowers on the café tables. Watered the plants out on the deck. Set out food items, made sure the fridge was stocked, and ensured there was plenty of wine on the back counter.
By 6:30pm, actors would have been dropping by to say hello, and get a pre-show caffeine fix as they ate their dinner. If patrons had arrived early, I would have invited them to have a seat and get comfortable while I finished setting up. We would have talked about the show they had come to see and where they had traveled from to see it. Long distance drives from Orange County, Santa Barbara, and Long Beach are not uncommon (and on a Friday night, no less!) Patrons of the Fountain are extremely loyal, and LA’s notorious Friday night traffic has never stopped any of them from persevering to see a great show.
I’d have set out fresh creamer for coffee by 6:45pm and cut fresh lemon wedges for tea. I’d have changed the music to something more appropriate for the show, and turned on the video monitor to run the scroller of past Fountain Theatre productions. I’d have clicked on the twinkle lights draped around the café and the deck, and lit the votive candles that add such warmth and invitation to the space. The stage would have been set. Lights and sound would have been ready. I would have opened the door to let the audience in.
Opening night of Human Interest Story, Feb 15, 2020.
It would have been another Friday night at the Fountain Theatre café. Engaging with patrons. Stepping out from behind the bar to hug a friend who had come to see the show. Getting buzzed off the buzz in the room. And answering a barrage of questions about past productions:
What was that wonderful play about the painting? Either Bakersfield Mist or My Name is Asher Lev. Both featured a painting and had storylines about art.
What was the show about the Latino restaurant workers? I couldn’t stop thinking about it.My Mañana Comes. Yes, a lot of people had that reaction.
What was the one about the border wall and the guy in prison?Building the Wall.
Do you remember the show about the Black girl who was a runner? Sure! It was In the Red and Brown Water, by Tarrell Alvin McCraney. It was the first play in his Brother/Sister trilogy. We also did the second one in that series, The Brothers Size.
Theatre. History. Story-telling. Energy. Friends. Connecting the dots. And, of course, lots of coffee. These were my Friday nights at the Fountain. Until Friday, March 13th. When everything changed.
I have happily worked at the Fountain for over a decade. I’ve been part of dozens of shows in a variety of capacities: production/assistant stage manager, props designer, casting associate, costume maintenance and more. For the past two years I have also been the manager of the charming Fountain Theatre café. I must say, I absolutely love it.
I run the café as I run a show, and I am nourished by it in the process. I am fed by the support of our devoted patrons, by sharing stories of past productions, by greeting first time visitors who inevitably want to know how long we’ve been around, what kinds of shows we do, and, ultimately, how they can become a member. And then there is the question I hear all the time, from guests old and new: will the café ever be open outside of show times? (Answer: it is a long-distance dream.) I feel gratitude every time I’m asked that, because it means they’re comfortable in this charming, funky space. They tell me how much they love the rainbow tables and walls, the gallery of production photographs, the mismatched collection of couches and chairs, the open deck with the hummingbird feeder and the little garden and the view to downtown LA. They want to hang out all day long. They feel a sense of peace, of connection in the space.
Kitchens are often referred to as the heart of a home, and the café is the gathering place of the Fountain Theatre. The room where we all come together to share meals, to talk, to take meetings and to rest. The stage downstairs is the soul of the Fountain. But the café, I believe, is its ever-beating, ever-welcoming, wide-open heart.
So for now, while this pandemic reigns, my Friday nights are different. It’s been nearly four months since I didn’t work that Friday night in March – and I feel it. I miss the energy, the shows, the patrons, the actors, the laughter and the hugs, the fellowship and the connection. But in time, we will tell our stories again. In time, the theatre will open up again. In time, we will gather in the café again. That charming rainbowed place of nourishment and peace and of welcoming home. And in time, we’ll re-connect to each other, again.
Actors from “Joy Luck Club” and “Hannah” in Fountain cafe.
Ever question if LA has a real theatre community? A true sense of camaraderie? Doubt no more. Last night, members of the cast from the Sierra Madre Playhouse production of The Joy Luck Club swarmed to the Fountain Theatre to support friends and colleagues in our California Premiere of Hannah and the Dread Gazebo. After the performance, members from both companies gathered in our upstairs cafe to celebrate and congratulate each other.
It was fitting that the visit happened on Labor Day, the national observance of the value of work. For people who work in the theatre, there is a fervent dedication to the art form and a palpable cord of goodwill between artists.
The bond between the Joy Luck and Hannah casts — both with Asian actors — began when the company of Joy Luck sent a funny and warm-hearted good luck video from the Sierra Madre Playhouse to the Hannah group days before its opening at the Fountain.
The Hannah company replied, posting their own video to the Joy Luck cast.
Happy opening night to the cast and crew of Joy Luck Club at Sierra Madre Playhouse (Victor S Chi Shar Liu Christine Liao Tim Dang Yee Eun Nam Lee Chen-Norman Grace Shen Christopher Chen and everyone) !!!!! — ❤ the cast of Hannah and the Dread Gazebo at East West Players and Fountain Theatre 🎭🥰👏👏👏👏💐
Last night, cast members from The Joy Luck Club were at the Fountain supporting their fellow players. The Hannah cast will soon do the same. Theatre can be a competitive business. It can also be a haven for friendship and support.
A packed house of passionate theatregoers, donors and guests, friends and family, and the invited press enjoyed Saturday night’s Opening performance of our California Premiere of Hannah and the Dread Gazebo by Jiehae Park. A collaboration between the Fountain Theatre and East West Players, the audience reflected a lively engagement from the communities of both companies.
Following the performance, guests enjoyed a catered reception upstairs in our charming cafe. The delicious Korean cuisine was served by Kimbap Paradise, with Korean beer provided by Lotte Beverage America.
Want to join our Fountain Family? Now is the perfect time. We are hiring folks for two positions: House Manager and Sidewalk Cafe Manager. Both jobs start next week, Wednesday October 17, as we begin performances for our exciting West Coast Premiere of Cost of Living by Martyna Majok. The play won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
House Manager – audience relations, distribute programs, assist patrons in seating. Looking for pleasant person with excellent people skills, articulate, assertive, trouble-shooter and problem-solver.
Sidewalk Cafe Manager – To manage and operate our new sidewalk cafe cart. This concessions cart in front of our theatre is a new addition to our audience services, allowing patrons who can’t climb the stairs to our indoor/outdoor cafe on the second floor the ability to buy snacks on the front sidewalk. Seeking a charming individual who enjoys engaging with people, well organized, can handle money and credit card sales via Square, some minor paperwork.
Dates: Oct 17 – Dec 16
Performances: Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm, Mon 8pm
Rate of Pay: $12 per hour.
Each performance runs approx 1 hour 40 mins (no intermission). Arrive 1 hour before curtain, stay 30 mins after.
The Fountain Theatre is a non-profit arts organization with a hiring policy of diversity and inclusion. All positions are open to any applicant, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Submit cover letter and resume to: email@example.com
Playwright/Director Stephen Sachs celebrates with the crowd on Opening Night.
Love was in the air on Saturday night for the opening of our world premiere of Arrival & Departure, the funny and poignant new play inspired by the classic romantic movie, Brief Encounter. Written and directed by Stephen Sachs, Arrival & Departure focuses on a Deaf man and a hard-of-hearing woman, married to different people, who meet accidentally in a New York City subway station. Their casual friendship soon develops into deeper feelings they never expected.
Saturday’s Opening Night performance compelled a sold-out audience to leap to its feet in a standing ovation. Afterward, a catered reception was held in our cafe. The warm summer weather was perfect for our invited guests to enjoy the cafe’s cozy outdoor balcony.
The cast includes Jessica Jade Andres, Deanne Bray, Adam Burch, Brian Robert Burns, Shon Fuller, Kyra Kotsur, Troy Kotsur, Aurelia Myers, and Stasha Surdyke. They were celebrated at the party by Fountain staff, members of the press, members of the Fountain Theatre Board of Directors, and family and friends. The guests were impressed by the dazzling performance, many commenting on its power and poignancy.
Arrival & Departure is performed by Hearing and Deaf actors in a fully integrated, unique blend of Open Captioning, American Sign Language and Spoken English. In this short video clip, Deaf actors Troy Kotsur and Deanne Bray address the party guests.
A beautiful and heartfelt performance was followed by a lively party as cast and audience members celebrated the opening of The Chosen at the Fountain Theatre on Saturday night, January 20th. The sold-out house leapt to their feet in a standing ovation, then gathered upstairs in our indoor/outdoor cafe for food, drink and festivities with the company.
Actors Jonathan Arkin, Alan Blumenfeld, Dor Gvirtsman and Sam Mandel were feted by Fountain VIP donors, invited guests and members of our Board of Directors.
Looks like the Fountain has another hit on its hands. performances for The Chosen are already selling out in advance. Get Tickets/More Info
The company of Runaway Home celebrates after final performance
There was a moment yesterday during the final curtain call of our acclaimed world premiere of Runaway Home that crystalized our expeirience throughout the entire eight-week run. The audience leaped to their feet in an exuberent standing ovation, stomping and clapping, while the actors lovingly tossed colorful mardi gras beads from the stage. Both sides of the stage shared a joyful moment of festive celebration that captured the spirit of this funny, endearing and poignant new play.
Following Sunday’s final performance, a lively reception was held in our upstairs cafe. The rain forcasted for the afternoon never appeared as the cast joined friends and patrons for a warm-hearted reception that included bowls of hot chili and plates of sweet potato pie.
Enjoy these photos from the post-show party. Another splendid Fountain Theatre production completes its successful run.
If you’ve visited our Fountain Caféin 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.