The Fountain Theatre community is a devoted band of folk who love theatre and often, one another. Normally The Fountain enjoys shining a light on members of our theatre family in our show programs. During this 2020 pandemic, however, with no show programs to print, The Fountain continues our tradition of honoring members of our devoted community here on the Fountain Blog.
Happy 90th Birthday Marcella Meharg!
Today we honor Marcella Meharg — on the occasion of her recent 90th birthday, and her life-long love of theatre — with two tributes. The first comes from a group of old friends who made a generous contribution in honor of Marcella’s milestone celebration:
“We are a group of former colleagues who worked for Los Angeles County as child welfare workers in the Metro North office in East Hollywood. We met Marcella in the early 70s. From colleagues to friends, we bonded over the years as we worked, raised our children, went to school and lived our lives. Lunches during the work day were a time to catch up. After retirement, lunches became monthly dinners and/or monthly lunches and have continued for over 15 years. The theater has always been an important part of Marcella’s life. Others in the group also have regular subscriptions to theaters in Los Angeles and the Fountain Theatre is one of our favorites. During this pandemic and difficult times for the arts, it seemed so appropriate that Marcella’s gift on the occasion of her 90th birthday would be a donation to the Fountain Theatre. ”
“Marcella Meharg and I did not choose one another. We were thrown together, like it or not, in a dormitory room at the Pasadena Playhouse when we were 19. And it took.
It took so well that, when she came down with a light case of the chickenpox, she eagerly passed it on to me, improved and with bells on. I was sick as a dog. That nasty little episode only drew us closer together. It’s the kind of thing that happens when you’re young, in “theatre school,” mutually passionate about the “art,” the success you’re certain will follow, the boy-friends and assorted other wonders. You form bonds — good and bad — that become indelible. Our post-Playhouse lives took paths that were at once divergent and not. We didn’t hit fame and fortune, but each of us married and each had two children at roughly the same time. Life went on, separating us as it often does, but not forever.
Marcella became a social worker and went on to run the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild’s Julie Harris Playwriting Contest for a number of years. She also co-produced an Ovation-nominated play and wrote one, which had a reading at Hollywood’s Samuel French Bookstore just before it went dark.
By the time we were both older and ready to take a step back, we rediscovered our friendship on a pleasant leisurely basis. By then I was writing reviews more selectively for culturalweekly.com than when I was writing them for The Los Angeles Times, and Marcella became my go-to theatre companion, chiefly because our tastes in theatre matched and our lengthy relationship made for lively conversations that we both enjoyed. What was invigorating is that we didn’t always admire the same productions and our disagreements were often more interesting than our agreements — until the pandemic hit, interrupting all the fun and the tooling around town, popping in and out of shows.
When some of Marcella’s friends smartly decided to celebrate her 90th birthday by contributing in her name to a theatre of her choice, the decision, she tells me, was easy. The Fountain is where we both spent many fascinating hours and hope to spend many more once the world returns to some kind of normal.
Happy birthday, Marcella. I’ve always known you had good judgment.”
– Sylvie Drake
When my parents met and fell in love, their favorite book was Eric Sevareid’s “Not So Wild a Dream.” They felt the phrase captured the promise of their bond, and had the words inscribed inside their wedding rings. For me, the Fountain Theatre is also not so wild a dream. Twenty-nine years ago today, Deborah Lawlor and I opened our doors. Our desire was to create a home. A sanctuary on Fountain Avenue where artists and audiences can gather to engage in the life-enhancing rhapsody of live art. Nearly three decades later, after hundreds of productions, thousands of artists and hundreds of thousands of patrons, that desire has proven itself to be not so wild a dream.
Serving Los Angeles for twenty-nine years and still going strong. Changing the world seventy-eight seats a time.
Thank you for bringing Cost of Living to Los Angeles. This is the first production the play has received after its NYC premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club in June 2017 and the world premiere at Williamstown Theatre Festival in July 2016.
I’m grateful to The Fountain for investing in this story and for continuing its life. I’m grateful also for the beautiful, thoughtful production that you and the wonderful team of artists created. And I’m thrilled for the kind welcome that the play and production have received in LA—and the chance to showcase the talents of some truly incredible actors.
I hope you’ll join me in supporting The Fountain Theatre by making a Year End Gift today.
The Fountain Theatre is pleased to welcome veteran theater producer and public relations consultant Diana Buckhantz to its Board of Directors.
Diana Buckhantz recently produced the critically acclaimed new musical Songbird in New York City which is about to have a second production at Two Rivers Theatre this June before an eventual return to New York. She was part of the producing team that brought the Tony-nominated musical Leap of Faith from the Ahmanson Theatre to Broadway. Her producing credits also include Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York and The Last Goodbye at the Old Globe.
“I have been seeing shows at the Fountain for many years and have always been so impressed by the quality of the work,” says Buckhantz. “Excellent writing, beautifully staged productions and wonderful acting – all wrapped around and illuminating the important social and moral issues of the day. I believe that theatre should entertain but also that it should stimulate audiences to challenge their values and belief systems. The Fountain does this in engaging and thoughtful ways. I am excited to join the board to help support this important work and help the theatre to grow and expand its reach. “
Diana began her professional career producing award-winning documentaries including “Dying with Dignity,” “Hunger in the Promised Land, and “Not A Question of Courage,” all for KTLA. Her documentaries have also received two National EMMY awards, two local EMMY Awards, the Scripps Howard Award for Broadcast Journalism, the State Bar of California Public Service Award, the NAPTE National Iris Award, the National Education Award, three Angel Awards, and the Kenny Rogers World Hunger Media Award.
While a producer at ITC Productions, she received an Associate Producer credit for the feature film “Without A Clue,” starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley.
Currently, she also runs her family foundation which focuses on issues around runaway and homeless youth, arts education in the schools, aging, reproductive rights, and combating genocides and mass atrocities in Africa.
She proudly serves on the boards of Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Youth Network, Jewish World Watch and Capital and Main.
Her greatest production, however, is her son Sam.
“Diana has been a fan of the Fountain for some time, ” says Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “Her professional experience as a theater producer and her dedicated service on notable non-profit boards makes her a very strong asset to our Fountain Family. We are thrilled to have her on our Board of Directors. “
Hey there Fountain family! My name is Victoria Montecillo and I am the Development Intern at The Fountain this summer. I am a recent graduate of Scripps College, where I got a double degree in Theatre and Media Studies. Aside from theatre, I love music (making it and listening to it!), reading (now that I’m done with college, I actually have time to read again), and spending time with the people I love. I was born in New York, but my family moved to Hong Kong before I turned two, so I grew up in Hong Kong before coming back to the United States for college.
In my experiences in theatre, I’ve done a little bit of everything – I found my passion as a performer, and I explored working in sound, lights, and directing. I found that although my heart initially was only with performing, I loved being involved in theatre in any way I could. I loved being a part of the work, and helping create that final product. In college, I became so much more aware of the power of theatre; the power of giving voices to untold stories, and of reaching out to audiences through stories of the human experience.
At the same time, I was beginning to better understand my own identity as a first-generation Filipino-American who grew up abroad. This year, I went to see a play written by a professor of mine about Filipina immigrant women in the United States. The script was a mix of English and Tagalog, with supertitles projected onto the set. It was the first time I had seen a piece of original theatre with people onstage who looked like me, and talking like my family. Each of their stories were powerful, real, and resonated with me in a way I didn’t expect. That’s when I realized the true power of theatre, and I understood my compulsion to work in theatre. I wanted to have a hand in the stories that are told onstage, and I wanted to be able to help create theatre that reached out to all kinds of audiences, to make them feel heard and understood.
I am so incredibly thrilled to be here at the Fountain this summer – not only do I admire the work that they produce, I am just so honored to be welcomed to the family and community here. Community is such an essential aspect of theatre and creating art, and I am so excited to do my part to contribute and further the work done here.
Fountain friends, longtime and new, enjoyed an unforgettable afternoon Saturday at the magnificent Westwood home of actor Alan Mandell. English tea, sandwiches and pastries were served to thirty invited special guests who marvelled at Alan’s extraordinary art collection and chatted about the achievements and future of the Fountain Theatre.
The afternoon salon was organized so distinguished friends and supporters of the Fountain could stay connected with the theatre and each other. And new colleagues and associates from the Los Angeles business and arts communities were introduced to the Fountain’s inner circle.
Fountain Co-Artistic Directors Deborah Lawlor and Stephen Sachs were joined by Producing Director Simon Levy, Associate Producer James Bennett and Director of Development Barbara Goodhill.
Fountain Board members Dorothy Wolpert, Karen Kondazian, Dick Motika, Jerrie Witfield, Don Zachary, and Oscar Arslanian welcomed guests Nyla Arslanian, Lorraine Evanoff, Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser, Shari Leinwand, Alan Mandell, Victoria Meyers, Dr. Charles and Laura Nagurka, Richard and Gloria Pink, Joan Quinn, Jacqueline Schultz, Marty Shelton, Mark Stankevich, Magda Waingrow, and Stanley Wolpert.
The crowd savored the English Tea delicacies provided by Anyone For Tea. Guests toured Alan’s stunning home populated with museum-quality sculptures, paintings, prints, and other vibrant art works.
Stephen Sachs spoke to the group, reviewing the many accomplishments of the Fountain Theatre over its 26-year history and outlining its goals and needs to come. He expressed the artistic heart and soul of the company and its dedication to serving a wide variety of communities throughout Los Angeles. He listed the many Fountain new plays that are now being produced in theatres across the country and around the world. And he articulated the challenges and objectives moving forward, describing the Fountain as an essential treasure on the cultural landscape of Los Angeles.
“We use two words to describe the Fountain Theatre,” Sachs remarked. “These two words are our brand.They appear on our letterhead, our website, our business cards. The two words are: Intimate. Excellent. That’s who we are. What we offer. What we’ve been for 26 years.”
“I truly believe, in my heart, that what we do matters, ” he continued. “Now, more than ever, in this electronic age of the internet and streaming videos and a gazillion cable channels, there may be no higher calling than to get people away from their screens and have a shared human experience, live, in the moment, together, that is intimate and excellent.”
“I hope you agree, ” he concluded. “Let’s make it happen. Together.”
As summer ends, the days (and nights) are staying hot at the Fountain. Passion burns with the mid-day heat and love sizzles on. The budding of new life, the sharing of new vows, and renewals of long-term love blossomed throughout the Fountain Family this summer. Every season is ripe for ardor and devotion, but the past few months have truly been …
A Fountain Summer of Love.
Wedding Bells for Olga Garay and Kerry English
"Bakersfield" actors Nick Ullett & Jenny O'Hara celebrated 25 years of marriage this summer -- and a hit play!
Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs and wife, actress Jacqueline Schultz, marked their 20 year wedding anniversary this summer.
Props Designer/Set Dresser Misty Carlisle
"Photograph 51" actress Aria Alpert
Director Armina LaManna and husband Alex (our charming cafe fellow) are expecting TWINS!
Fountain actors Keith Arthur Bolden & Tinashe Kajese celebrate 4 years of marriage this summer.
Fountain Family members Zach Dulli & actress Stephanie Stearns Dulli welcomed their second son, Huck.