Category Archives: performing arts

Shirley Jo Finney Lifted Every Soul

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J. Alphonse Nicholson stars in West Coast premiere of ‘Freight’ for limited run at Fountain Theatre

The Fountain Theatre presents the West Coast premiere of Freight: The Five Incarnations of Abel Green, a timely and timeless theatrical journey written by Howard L. Craft, directed by Joseph Megel, and starring J. Alphonse Nicholson (Broadway’s Tony award-winning A Soldier’s Play; co-star P-Valley on Starz; Netflix’s They Cloned Tyrone). The limited 21-performance run takes place November 12 through December 16, with low-priced previews beginning November 9.

Nicholson reprises his off-Broadway, tour-de-force star turn as five versions of an African American everyman who travels through time in different incarnations, including a 19th Century minstrel, a faith healer, an FBI informant, a struggling actor, and an out-of-work mortgage broker. In each life, Abel is guided, distracted, helped or hindered by a handful of characters with whom his destiny is forever intertwined. We meet each new iteration of Abel Green on a train, which changes in appearance in accordance with each time period and serves as a link between dimensions.

Freight operates on the premise that a person’s spirit, or soul, comes to the world because there is something the soul needs to learn,” says Craft. “If the soul does not learn it, then it comes back to the world again and again until it’s successful. The soul can exist concurrently in different time periods, in multiple dimensions of the same universe.”

Inspired by the painting “Slow Down Freight Train” by Rose Piper, the play started out as a 10-minute monologue for North Carolina’s “Activated Art at the Ackland” series. That scene was later expanded in collaboration with Megel and Nicholson to create the current, full-length production.

“The three of us have great chemistry,” Craft explained in an interview. “This is not the first piece we’ve done together. I’m from Durham [North Carolina] and Alphonse is from Greensboro; there are a lot of similarities in these places. He just really gets the rhythm of my writing. And Joseph has a way of pulling things out of an actor, and out of a playwright. He has a very light touch, but he brings so much up.”

Freight earned rave reviews off-Broadway at the New Federal Theatre. “Mr. Nicholson transforms from one Abel to the next in front of us… distinct and entertaining,” raved The New York Times in its “Critic’s Pick” review. New York’s Amsterdam News enthused, “intensely written and stunningly performed,” and Berkshire Fine Arts calls Freight “a superb play.”

Named one of Essence magazine’s “Of the Essence Screen Kings,” Nicolson is a two-time NAACP Image Award nominee for his role inP-Valley, and other notable credits include Just Mercy (Warner Bros.), Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker (Netflix), Blue Bloods (CBS), Mr. Robot (USA), Shots Fired (FOX), Marvel’s Luke Cage (Netflix), Tales (BET), The Blacklist (NBC), and Chicago PD (NBC). In addition to A Soldier’s Play, his theater credits include Signature Theatre’s twice extended off-Broadway premiere of Dominque Morisseau’s Paradise Blue, directed by Tony winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and Days of Rage at 2nd Stage. He was recently seen in the remake of White Men Can’t Jump (Disney/20th Century Studios) and They Cloned Tyrone (Macro/Netflix). Next up: The Sterling Affairs (FX), Black Spartans (Buffalo 8 Productions) and Albany Road.

The creative team for Freight at the Fountain includes scenic designer Joel Daavid; lighting designer Alison Brummer, sound designer Marc Antonio Pritchett; video designer Eamonn Farrell; costume designer Danyele Thomas; and props designer Rebecca Carr. The production stage manager is Kaitlyn R. Cramer.

Secure, on-site parking is available for $5. Running time for Freight is approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. Patrons are invited to relax before and after the show at the Fountain’s upstairs indoor/outdoor café.

Meet Hannah Wolf, director of ‘Last Summer at Bluefish Cove’

Check out this short new video of Hannah Wolf, fabulous director of Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, as she discusses how love and friendship are core themes of this iconic, funny, and poignant play.

Set in 1974, Bluefish concerns a group of queer women who spend their summers together in a remote seaside town. Their enclave is disrupted when Eva, a naïve straight woman separated from her husband, stumbles unaware into their circle and falls for the charming, tough-talking Lil. This iconic lesbian play bursts with heartfelt friendship, laughter, and love.

Last Summer at Bluefish Cove plays on our Outdoor Stage at 7pm Fridays – Mondays beginning next week. Low-priced previews begin Wednesday, June 14. Opening Night is Saturday, June 17, with a dessert reception to follow. The show runs through Sunday, August 27. TICKETS/MORE INFO.

Watch the magic happen! Set for Bluefish Cove is loaded onto the Outdoor Stage

While the cast of our summer production, Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, have been hard at work rehearsing, Sets-to-Go has been hard at work building the incredible set designed by our fabulous scenic designer, Desma Murphy.

Last week, the set for the Bluefish Cove beach cottage where a group of lesbian women spend their summers together was loaded onto our Outdoor Stage. Soon to come will be the rocks and dock of the cove.

Check out this short video chat with Desma and watch the magic happen as the crew installs the set and Bluefish Cove begins to become a reality.

Last Summer at Bluefish Cove begins previews on June 14, opens on June 17, and runs through August 27. Tickets/More Info.

Meet the Cast of Last Summer at Bluefish Cove

Set in 1974, a group of queer women spend their summers together in a remote oceanfront town on Long Island. Their lesbian enclave is disrupted when Eva, a naïve straight woman recently separated from her husband, stumbles unaware into their circle and falls for the charming, tough-talking Lil. This heartfelt play, a landmark in lesbian history, is bursting with friendship, laughter, love and hope, bringing well-rounded, three-dimensional characters that transcend stereotypes and preconceptions to the stage.

Check out this short video to meet the cast of our hot new summer production, Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, opening June 17 on our Outdoor Stage.

More Info/Tickets

High school students enjoy special performances of The Lifespan of a Fact

By Terri Roberts

Earlier this month, eager students and their chaperones from three area high schools visited the Fountain Theatre for specially arranged morning performances of our current hit show, The Lifespan of a Fact. These kids had either been participants in Fountain Voices, the Fountain’s acclaimed theatre education program, or were recruited because they were active in their established high school theatre programs. Many of them already had an interest in the arts, some were newly exposed to it, and quite a few were even considering careers as writers and/or performers. All of them were thrilled to be seeing the show.

On Friday, March 3rd, 44 students from Hollywood High School and 15 students from Helen Bernstein High School were bussed to the Fountain to see Lifespan. A week later, on March 10th, approximately 60 students arrived from Compton Early College High School. Pre-show snacks and lunch were provided in the Fountain’s charming upstairs café, and the kids chatted excitedly about both seeing the show and the Q&A with the cast (Inger Tudor, Jonah Robinson, Ron Bottitta) and director (Simon Levy) that followed the performance.

Ali Nezu, Magnet Coordinator for the New Media Academy and the Performing Arts Magnet at Hollywood High School was also excited for the opportunity. “It’s just been a blessing to have such an amazing group of artists and board members and community people that just love and respect the arts and that understand how desperately we need the arts to create social change,” she said. “And the learning that happens in a situation like this, and the engagement level of the students in the content and their own growth is just so much more than in a situational classroom. So I love that we are inspiring students to experience that but then inspire them and empower them to do that in their own lives moving forward.”

“It’s just been a blessing to have such an amazing group of artists and board members and community people that just love and respect the arts, and that understand how desperately we need the arts to create social change,” says Ali Nezu, Magnet Coordinator for the New Media Academy and the Performing Arts Magnet at Hollywood High School.

“I really appreciate how Fountain Voices teaches students how to get into someone else’s shoes,” enthused Ebony Haywood, who teaches English and Theatre at Compton Early Collage. “To understand how someone else is thinking, to how do you put this story together? How do you present, and represent, this story on stage? It’s like an exercise in being human.”

Sherrick O’Quinn, the Fountain’s Theatre Education Manager, agrees. “Fountain Voices is instrumental in giving kids an opportunity to realize and find their voice,” he says. “The programming we are providing is giving them the tools to learn how to be change agents of the future by using the theater arts to communicate their own stories that can change lives, hearts, and minds. Whether it’s learning how to use playwriting or visiting our theater to see a show, we’re creating accessibility to the arts when we’re seeing students increasingly not being given those opportunities – especially in underserved communities.”

To learn more about Fountain Voices, contact Sherrick O’Quinn at sherrick@fountaintheatre.com.

To purchase tickets to see The Lifespan of a Fact, now extended to April 30th, call 323/663-1525 or visit www.fountaintheatre.com.

Intermezzo: Chamber Music at the Fountain Theatre launches on March 16

This Thursday, March 16, the Fountain Theatre launches another new entry in its celebrated lineup of dance and music offerings. Intermezzo: Chamber Music at the Fountain is a bi-monthly series curated by vioIinist/violist Connie Kupka, formerly with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, together with cellist David Speltz, previously a member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under Sir Neville Marriner and principal cellist of the California Chamber Orchestra under Henri Temianka. Speltz has also worked with such Hollywood luminaries as John Williams and Barbara Streisand.

In the first performance in the series, Kupka and Speltz will be joined by violinist Adam Barnett-Hart for an evening of Schubert (string trio on Bb in one movement), Mozart (duo for violin and Viola in G major) and Beethoven (string trio in C minor.)

“Our new chamber music series is a rare opportunity to experience music played by world-class musicians up close and personal,” says Fountain Theatre Artistic Director Stephen Sachs.

Guest artist Adam Barnett-Hart is the founding first violinist of the Escher String Quartet, and a season artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Listen to Connie and David discuss Intermezzo on KXLU 88.9 FM.

As a soloist, Mr. Barnett-Hart made his debut with the Juilliard Symphony at 19, performing the Brahms concerto in Alice Tully Hall. He has since performed with such orchestras as the Colorado Symphony, the Wichita Falls Symphony, the Riverside Symphony, the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Jefferson Symphony. He began studying with Pinchas Zukerman after graduating from the Juilliard School, where he completed his bachelor’s degree with Joel Smirnoff. Prior to attending Juilliard, he studied with James Maurer, Paul Kantor, and Donald Weilerstein.

Join us on Thursday, March 16, for the inaugural performance Intermezzzo in our intimate indoor stage. Additional performances will takes place on Thursday, May 18 (indoor stage) and Thursday, May 20 (outdoor stage.) All shows are at 8pm. Masks are recommended, but are not required.

Fountain Theatre welcomes Sherrick O’Quinn as Theatre Education Manager

The Fountain Theatre is pleased to add Sherrick O’Quinn to its staff as Theatre Education Manager. In the newly-created position, Mr. O’Quinn is responsible for cultivating and strengthening all strategic community educational partnerships for The Fountain Theatre, enhancing its profile as an arts education leader in Los Angeles. Most important, he will oversee the theatre’s various arts education programs under the banner, Fountain for Youth. The programs include Walking the Beat and Fountain Voices.

Sherrick O’Quinn is an actor, educator, minister, and artist originally from Louisville, KY. He began his career in Louisville, KY working on stage and in film, TV, commercials and voiceover prior to moving to Los Angeles to complete his MFA in Acting degree at the University of Southern California. He formerly ran the GO College program which empowered and prepared at-risk high school students for college-going and career readiness prior to pursuing acting full-time. He spends his time acting, creating, coaching and working as a teaching artist. Sherrick is blessed to be part of Fountain Theatre’s mission to support and amplify diverse voices and create tangible change. His aim is to find intersections in art, work, and his daily life to be a change agent that encourages others to step into their voice, purpose, and light.

Back by popular demand, Fountain Theatre’s hit production ‘If I Forget’ extends to Dec. 18 

The Fountain Theatre’s hit production of If I Forget, written by Tony Award-winning playwright Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hanson) and directed by Tony Award-winning actor Jason Alexander (widely known from TV’s Seinfeld), has extended through December 18, re-opening at the end of October following a brief hiatus. At once deeply personal and political, If I Forget is a funny and complex tale that explores the lasting impact of the Holocaust on a Jewish family at the beginning of the 21st century. The widely acclaimed original cast returns to portray three adult siblings and their families who reunite to celebrate their father’s 75th birthday, with Richard Fancy taking over the role of patriarch Lou Fischer, a role he previously played in the 2018 Washington D.C. production. In addition to Fancy’s extensive stage career (Singin’ in the Rain on Broadway; Julia at 59e59th off-Broadway; lead roles in All My Sons and Death of a Salesman at Pacific Resident Theatre), Fancy is remembered for his role as Mr. Lippman on Seinfeld, where he worked alongside Mr. Alexander.

STAGE RAW TOP 10… ensconces themes relating to Jewish history and heritage into a funny, poignant domestic comedy.” — Stage Raw

UNFORGETTABLE… provocative, engaging, funny, poignant, mesmerizing… Definitely a must see!” —LA Theatrix

REMARKABLE… a richly real script and uniformly excellent acting combine in a riveting theater-going experience.” — Larchmont Buzz

DON’T MISS THIS ONEGO!— Performing Arts Live

RIVETING, NUANCED PERFORMANCES… crisp dialogue packed with opposing ideas… pathos and humor.” — Santa Monica Mirror

POWERFUL… will keep viewers talking long after the curtain drops.” — Splash magazines

WOW!… HILARIOUS AND HARROWING… one superb performance after another.” — Stage Scene LA

MEMORABLE COMPELLING AND RELEVANT… deep and intense think-pieces presented at the pace of screwball comedy.” — The Hollywood Times

URGENTLY IMPORTANT, BRILLIANTLY LYRICAL AND THEATRICAL… best mounting of a new American play I’ve seen done in 14 years.” — Ticket Holders LA

ANOTHER TRIUMPH FOR THE VENERABLE FOUNTAIN THEATRE… a play you won’t forget.” — Discover Hollywood

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Happy Birthday, Fountain Theatre!

Thirty-two years of enriching and changing lives, seventy-eight seats at a time.