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Tag Archives: Simon Levy
Rave reviews for our acclaimed current production of Daniel’s Husband have included hails for the beautiful living room set, designed by DeAnne Millais. The LA Times swooned over the “stylish panache of scenic designer DeAnne Millais’ Architectural Digest-ready spread.” A key element to the scenic design are the framed photographs adorning the walls. These were provided by award winning fine art photographer Sarah Hadley.
To fulfill director Simon Levy’s wish to have the set filled with beautiful high-end elements, scenic designer Millais remembered being struck by Sarah‘s ethereal photography recently seen at LA’s Brewery Art Walk. DeAnne thought it would be the perfect complement to the play and its scenic environment.
Sarah Hadley was named one of the “jeunes talents” by Paris’ Le Monde at the Fotofever Art Fair in 2015. In recent years, Hadley has been invited to exhibit at Fotofever in Paris, France, the Porto Photo Fest in Porto, Portugal, the Lishui Photo Festival in China; the Worldwide Photography Biennial in Buenos Aires, and the Ballarat Festival in Australia. She has had solo exhibitions at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Boston, the Loyola Museum of Art in Chicago, Afterimage Gallery in Dallas, and Fabrik Gallery in Los Angeles. Hadley’s work is held in many public and private collections around the world, and has been shown in many museums and galleries including the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa, FL, the Robin Rice Gallery in NY and Building Bridges Gallery in Santa Monica.
Hadley’s work has also been featured in publications and online blogs including ELLE Italia, B+W Magazine (UK), PDN, L’Oeil de la Photographie, ArtTribune, Shots Magazine, Don’t Take Pictures, and Lenscratch.com. She has received grants from the California Center for Cultural Innovation, the Illinois Arts Council, and several fellowships from the Ragdale Foundation.
Sarah was flattered to be asked to provide her photographic artwork for the production. “I am excited to see the play,” she beams.
You can explore Sarah Hadley’s work on her website. And view it live on the set of Daniel’s Husband, now playing to June 23.
The beautiful hilltop home of playwright/screenwriter Jane Anderson and author/producer Tess Ayers was the lovely location on April 14 of a special gathering of VIP donors and Fountain Friends supporting our Southern California Premiere of Daniel’s Husband. The funny and poignant new play by Michael McKeever on gay marriage is currently playing at the Fountain Theatre to rave reviews, heralded as Critic’s Choice in the Los Angeles Times.
After enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres prepared by Alligator Pear Catering, the group assembled to hear director Simon Levy speak about his vision for the play.
“There is a commitment to tell these stories on our Fountain stage,” said Jane Anderson, reading a letter from Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs, who was in New York that evening. “Stories of struggle in the gay community as they fight for the most fundamental of all human rights: to be who we are and love whom we choose. In these dark, hateful times, Daniel’s Husband invigorates us with this one simple truth: love is worth fighting for.”
Cast members from Daniel’s Husband then read selections from the play.
The entertaining event, hosted by Jane Anderson and Tess Ayers, was a delightful success. Attending were Oscar Arslanian, Bill Brochtrup, Diana Buckhantz, Denis Cagna, Carrie Chassin, Deborah Culver, Tim Cummings, Ken Debie, Jose Fernando, Richard Gallegos, Jackie Goldberg, Barbara Goodhill, Ron Guzman, Jochen Haber, Karen Kondazian, Simon Levy, Ed Martin, Carlos Medina, Jenny O’Hara, Nick Ullett, Don and Suzanne Zachary, Jason and Allison Zelin.
There is the rule of law, and there are the laws of the heart. Which do we follow and when? The Fountain Theatre presents the funny, passionate and poignant Southern California premiere of Daniel’s Husband, the 2018 off-Broadway hit play by Michael McKeever that was hailed as “compelling” by The New York Times, “emotionally charged” by the Huffington Post and “beautiful and powerful” by the Daily Beast. Opening night is set for May 4, with performances continuing through June 23. Pay-what-you-want previews begin May 1.
A bold commentary on love, commitment and family in our perilous new world, Daniel’s Husband reunites director Simon Levy, who helmed the Fountain’s 2013 award-winning production of The Normal Heart, with the stars of that production, Bill Brochtrup and Tim Cummings. This time, the two play Daniel Bixby and Mitchell Howard — a seemingly perfect couple. What isn’t so perfect is that Daniel desperately longs to be married, but Mitchell doesn’t believe in it. When an unexpected turn of events puts their perfect life in jeopardy, they are thrust into a future where love may not be enough.
“When I first read Daniel’s Husband, I fell in love with the love story and was deeply moved by it,” says Levy. “One of the central questions the play asks is, ‘How far will you go to fight for the one you love?’ The characters wrestle with what it means to be committed to someone, to be ‘married’ — and what’s legally and morally lost if we don’t tie the knot. McKeever’s play may be about gay marriage, but it’s a universal story that reminds us to grab those we love and hold them close. Love really is precious; and when we find someone we truly love, we should fight for them with everything we have.”
Also in the cast are Jenny O’Hara (the Fountain’s Bakersfield Mist) as Daniel’s mother, and Ed Martin and Jose Fernando as the couple’s good friends. The creative team includes set and props designer DeAnne Millais, lighting designer Jennifer Edwards, sound designer Peter Bayne and costume designer Michael Mullen. The production stage manager is Jessica Morataya. Stephen Sachs, Deborah Culver and James Bennett produce for the Fountain Theatre.
Daniel’s Husband premiered at South Florida’s Island City Stage in 2015 before going on to enjoy successful off-Broadway runs at New York City’s Primary Stages in 2017 and again at the Westside Theatre in 2018.
“I practically had to carry my best friend out of the theater in New York,” Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty recently noted in a spring arts preview article that highlighted the Fountain’s production.
Michael McKeever’s other plays include 37 Postcards, Suite Surrender, Charlie Cox Runs with Scissors, Stuff and Melt, and have been produced at Florida Stage (Manalapan), Marin Theatre Company (Marin County), Hudson Stage Company (New York), Phoenix Theatre (Indianapolis) and Caldwell Theatre Company (Boca Raton) among many others. His comedies have played in some of the most prestigious theaters in Europe, including Komödie Dresden (Dresden), Och-Teatr (Warsaw) and Theater in der Josefstadt, Kammerspiele (Vienna). He has been honored with an NEA Residency Grant (New Theatre, Miami) and has been a three-time finalist for Humana Fest’s nationally renowned Heideman Award. He is the recipient of five Carbonell Awards; two Silver Palm Awards; and three Florida Individual Artist Fellowships. He is also an award-winning actor and designer. He is a founding member of the award-winning theatre Zoetic Stage in Miami. He resides in South Florida and is a member of the Dramatists Guild and Actors’ Equity.
The Fountain Theatre is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles, providing a creative home for multi-ethnic theater and dance artists. The Fountain has won hundreds of awards, and Fountain projects have been seen across the U.S. and internationally. Recent highlights include all-star readings of Ms. Smith Goes to Washington and All the President’s Men at Los Angeles City Hall and the inclusion of the Fountain’s Citizen: An American Lyric in the Music Center’s Our L.A. Voices festival at Grand Park. The Fountain’s 2018 productions of The Chosen and Arrival & Departure each enjoyed months-long sold out runs and was named a Los Angeles Times “Critic’s Choice.” The company’s recent West Coast premiere of Martyna Majok’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Cost of Living, was named to the Los Angeles Times’ “Best of 2018” list.
Actors Bill Brochtrup and Tim Cummings, co-stars of the Fountain Theatre’s acclaimed 2013 production of The Normal Heart, will reunite for this season’s Southern California Premiere of Daniel’s Husband by Michael McKeever. Simon Levy, who helmed The Normal Heart, will direct. Daniel’s Husband opens May 4th.
Brochtrup and Cummings are joined by LA favorites Jenny O’Hara and Ed Martin. Jose Fernando makes his Fountain debut.
Daniel and Mitchell are the perfect couple. Perfect house, perfect friends — even a mother who wants them married. They’d have the perfect wedding too, except that Mitchell doesn’t believe in gay marriage. A turn of events puts their perfect life in jeopardy, and Mitchell is thrust into a future in which even his love may not be enough. Daniel’s Husband is a bold reflection on love, commitment, and family in our perilous new world.
The recent Off-Broadway production earned rave reviews. The New York Times hailed it as “Compelling”, the Huffington Post declared it was “Emotionally charged,” and the Daily Beast described it as “Beautiful and powerful.”
Bill Brochtrup (Daniel) appeared Off-Broadway in Secrets of the Trade at Primary Stages, Lost and Found at FringeNYC, and Snakebit at the Century Center. He’s acted with many LA theatre companies including South Coast Repertory (The Sisters Rosensweig, Shakespeare In Love, Noises Off), Antaeus Theatre Company (Cloud 9, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Peace In Our Time) Rogue Machine Theatre (Les Blancs), Fountain Theatre (The Normal Heart). His many TV appearances include five seasons as savvy police psychologist “Dr. Joe” on Major Crimes, Shameless, Kendra, Dexter, and In the Life. Bill was a series regular on Public Morals, Total Security, and ten years as cheerful administrative aide “John Irvin” on NYPD Blue. He is the Co-Artistic Director of Antaeus Theatre Company.
Tim Cummings (Mitchell) recently earned his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Antioch University. He is the winner of Critical Read’s 2018 ‘Origins’ literary contest for his essay “You Have Changed Me Forever.” He is the recipient of three LA Drama Critics Circle Awards, for Dan O’Brien’s The House in Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage (2018 PEN American Award for Drama) at Boston Court, Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart at The Fountain, and Enda Walsh’s The New Electric Ballroom at Rogue Machine. Selected LA: Cal in Camo with Red Dog Squadron at VS Theater; Need To Know at Rogue Machine, The Woodsman at Coeurage (StageSceneLA Award for Performance of the Year); Reunion and Eurydice at South Coast Rep, Hamlet and The Winter’s Tale at Theater 150, WAR and The Walworth Farce at Theater Banshee, Tartuffe at Boston Court, The Pursuit of Happiness at Laguna Playhouse. Bway & Off-Bway: The Guys directed by Jim Simpson, Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune directed by Joe Mantello. Film/TV: Can You Ever Forgive Me, Grimm, Rosewood, Kensho at the Bedfellow, Criminal Minds, My Two Fans, Presence, The Box, etc. He holds a BFA in Acting from NYU.
Jose Fernando (Trip) From the tropics of Costa Rica and the waters of Niagara Falls, Jose appeared in Breckenridge Theatre’s world premiere of The 10th . He was seen on Disney Channel’s Disney 365 and on ABC’s Black-ish and Once Upon A Time . He currently has commercials in the works with Google and other tech companies.
Ed Martin (Barry) has worked in theatres all over the country including Denver Center Theatre, The Arizona Theatre Company, Theatreworks, and the Laguna Playhouse. Favorite LA credits include work at the Boston Court, the Colony, the Davidson/Valentini, the Odyssey, the Hudson and Theatre 40. Ed is the recipient of the Ovation, Stage Raw, LA Weekly, Dramalogue and Robby Awards. TV and film credits include Angels and Demons, directed by Ron Howard, American Crime, Castle, Medium, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and many others.
Jenny O’Hara (Lydia) is best known to Fountain audiences as originating the role of Maude Gutman in the smash hit Bakersfield Mist. She co-starred on Broadway opposite Alec Guiness in Dylan. Other Broadway credits are The Fig Leaves are Falling, Promises, Promises, The Odd Couple (female version), and The Iceman Cometh. On TV, she’s been seen on Transparent, The Mindy Project, The King of Queens, and Big Love, and guest appearances in Mike and Molly, Hot in Cleveland, Rizzoli and Isles, The Closer, NCIS, CSI, House, Nip/Tuck, Six Feet Under and numerous others. Films include BFF, Sassy Pants, The Seven Psychopaths, Devil (M. Night Shyamalan), Mystic River (Clint Eastwood), Matchstick Men (Ridley Scott), Extract, Forty Shades of Blue, Two Weeks, How to Make Love to a Woman and Heartbeat.
The Fountain Theatre has announced a 2019-20 season of vibrant, thought-provoking, fresh and funny new work by a diverse group of playwrights, each of whom explores important social and cultural issues from a wholly unique perspective.
Over the course of 16 months, the company will offer up a series of Los Angeles, California, Southern California, West Coast and world premieres that tackle questions of politics, racism, gun control, human rights, cultural identity and more.
“Our 2019-20 season is our most ambitious ever,” says Fountain co-artistic director Stephen Sachs. “It perfectly reflects who and what we are as a theater organization. It’s a season of diversity, a rich mixture of new plays representing a wide variety of communities. Our goal is for Los Angeles to see itself on our stage, and this season certainly offers that.”
Details of the Fountain Theatre’s 2019-20 season are as follows:
Hype Man by Idris Goodwin
West Coast premiere. In Idris Goodwin’s “break beat play,” a diverse hip-hop trio is on the verge of making it big on national TV when a police shooting of a Black teen shakes the band to its core, forcing them to confront questions of race, gender, privilege and when to use artistic expression as an act of social protest. Winner, 2018 Elliot Norton Award. Directed by Deena Selenow. Feb. 23 – April 14, 2019
Daniel’s Husband by Michael McKeever
Southern California premiere. Michael McKeever’s witty, passionate, funny and, ultimately, heartrending play takes an unflinching look at how we choose to tie the knot — or not. Daniel and Mitchell are the perfect couple. What isn’t so perfect is that Daniel desperately longs to be married, but Mitchell doesn’t believe in it. Then, a life-altering event forces both men to realize that, even in an enlightened society, the denial of fundamental rights leads to devastating results. Starring Bill Brochtrup, Tim Cummings and Jenny O’Hara; directed by Simon Levy. May 4 – June 23, 2019
Hannah and the Dread Gazebo by Jiehae Park
California premiere. Hannah is two weeks away from becoming a board-certified neurologist when she receives a strange package from her grandmother, who may—or may not—have just ended her life in a most flamboyant fashion. The mystery leads Hannah and her family on a surreal, funny, heartbreaking adventure back to their roots in South and North Korea and the forbidden Demilitarized Zone that divides them. Wildly theatrical, Jiehae Park’s startling new comedy twists together creation myths and family histories to explore what it means to walk the edge between cultures. July 13 – Sept 1, 2019
Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Los Angeles premiere. You can’t beat City Hall, but you can try. In this darkly comic, 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Stephen Adly Guirgis, ex-cop and recent widower Walter ‘Pops’ Washington has made a home for his newly paroled son in his sprawling, rent-controlled Riverside Drive apartment. But now the NYPD is demanding his signature to close an outstanding lawsuit, the landlord wants him out, the liquor store is closed, and the church is on his back — leaving Pops somewhere between Riverside… and crazy. Sept. 21 – Nov. 10, 2019
Jane Doe by Stephen Sachs
World premiere. In this contemporary retelling of the 1941 Frank Capra classic film Meet John Doe adapted by Fountain Theatre co-artistic director Stephen Sachs (Cyrano, Arrival & Departure, Citizen: An American Lyric), a newspaper writer fabricates a letter to his column from an imaginary homeless woman named “Jane Doe” who announces she will kill herself on the 4th of July because of greedy corporations, corrupt politicians and how hostile and heartless the world has become. When the writer hires a woman to stand-in as the fictitious “Jane”, a national movement is ignited by citizens aching for a savior. Jan. 18 – March 8, 2020
If I Forget by Steven Levenson
Los Angeles premiere. Simon Levy directs this powerful tale of a Jewish family and a culture at odds with itself by Steven Levenson (book-writer of the hit musical Dear Evan Hansen). Michael is a liberal Jewish studies professor reuniting with his two sisters to celebrate their father’s 75th birthday. A political and deeply personal play about history, responsibility, and what we’re willing to sacrifice for a new beginning, told with vicious humor and unflinching honesty. If I Forget was a New York Times “Critic’s Pick,” while DC Metro calls it “one of the greatest Jewish plays of this century.” March 28 – May 17, 2020
In addition, the Fountain will continue to offer its acclaimed Forever Flamenco dance series every month.
The Fountain Theatre is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles, providing a creative home for multi-ethnic theater and dance artists. The Fountain has won hundreds of awards, and Fountain projects have been seen across the U.S. and internationally. Recent highlights include being honored for its acclaimed 25th Anniversary Season in 2015 by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council; the inclusion of the Fountain’s Citizen: An American Lyric in Center Theatre Group’s Block Party at the Kirk Douglas Theatre and again, last year, as the centerpiece of Our L.A. Voices at Grand Park; and an all-star reading of All The President’s Men at Los Angeles City Hall. The Fountain’s 2018 productions of The Chosen and Arrival & Departure each enjoyed months-long sold out runs and were named Los Angeles Times “Critic’s Choices.” The company’s most recent production, the West Coast premiere of Martyna Majok’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Cost of Living, was named to the Los Angeles Times’ “Best of 2018” list by theater critic Charles McNulty, who called the Fountain “on par with the Mark Taper Forum and Geffen Playhouse at their best. The Fountain Theatre’s production of Majok’s ‘Cost of Living’ confirmed just how indispensable 99-seat theaters still are to a healthy theater ecology.”
Enjoy this fun music video created by actor Jonathan Arkin chronicling the Fountain Theatre opening its acclaimed production of Chaim Potok’s The Chosen at the Schultz Cultural Arts Hall in Palo Alto, CA.
Directed by Simon Levy, the production stars Jonathan Arkin, Steven B. Green, Dor Gvirtsman and Sam Mandel.
by Simon Levy
Our acclaimed production of Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, adapted by Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok, was a wonderful success at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center Taube Koret Campus for Life/Schultz Cultural Arts Hall in Palo Alto this past weekend.
We were invited by Ronit Widmann-Levy, Director of Arts and Culture, because several members of her JCC had seen our production earlier this year in L.A., plus she’d heard about the production at a conference of JCCs in New York. She made arrangements with our Artistic Director, Stephen Sachs, to bring the original cast (Jonathan Arkin, Steven B. Green, Dor Gvirtsman, and Sam Mandel), our stage manager (Miranda Stewart), and myself to remount our production in their 300-seat theatre.
On Monday and Tuesday of last week, Miranda and the actors and I got together for brush-up rehearsals over at the Colony Theatre (the Fountain was busy getting ready for the VIP opening of Cost of Living, our current production). It had been four months since we had done the show and I wanted to make sure the actors had time to get ready. They were remarkable! – they knew all their lines and the old camaraderie immediately returned. It was as if they were still doing the show. They were ready and eager to dive back in.
After packing up and shipping most of the furniture, props, and costumes (except for the beautiful bookshelves, arches, and hundreds of books), we boarded a Southwest flight to San Francisco on Thursday, Super Shuttled to the beautiful Sheraton Palo Alto, took a quick tour of where we would be performing, gathered for dinner at the Town and Country Village near the hotel, then settled in for a good night’s rest.
Friday was a 12-hour tech day where we re-configured and re-sized our intimate production to the larger stage of the Arts Hall. We re-blocked a few key moments, re-designed the dozens of light cues, laid in dozens more sound cues, and re-configured the special video effect of Hebrew letters that accents a key moment in the play. Even without the bookshelves, archways and library effect, the production sat nicely on their stage, allowing the emphasis to be on the actors.
Moving a show from one space to another, especially with only one day of tech, can often be stressful and prone to all sorts of mishaps. But we were blessed! I want to give special thanks to the Center’s tech wizards, Nick and Kyle. They could not have been more professional, helpful, creative, and just downright nice! And the same for Ilanit Gal, the Events Manager, who took good care of us. Ronit Widmann-Levy was gracious and welcoming and warmly introduced us to many of the attendees and made sure we had everything we needed. It was a pleasure to work with them, and they made the transition from our intimate space to their larger one, smooth and stress-free.
On Saturday afternoon we had a tech run of the show, made a few adjustments, then prepared for our opening. Spirits were high; there was much joking among the cast as they donned costumes and makeup, re-checked their props, and waited for the 7:30 curtain. The Saturday night show was so oversold that the Center had to add three extra rows of seats to accommodate the 300+ patrons. And word-of-mouth from that performance quickly sold out the Sunday night show. Two full houses… two standing ovations!
At the Q&A after the Sunday performance nearly the entire audience stayed, applauding us, engaging us with intelligent questions, and afterwards they swarmed the actors with more questions and compliments. They loved the show. Just loved it. And they could not have been more complimentary – not only about the acting and production, but also about how relevant the story is; how much it touched them; how certain moments made them laugh or cry or nod in recognition; how Chaim’s book and Posner’s adaptation give life not only to so many Jewish themes and historical moments, but to the dynamics of family, of children finding their own path, of the need for understanding and forgiveness, and how, with empathy and compassion, we actually can hold two opposing ideas in our mind at the same time, and both can be true.
The other thing I heard over and over, both from the JCC staff and audience members, is how the immediacy and three-dimensionality of theatre brings to emotional life the richness of the novel in a visceral way that’s different from reading the book. They entered into the world we created for them, and they were moved.
We were even featured on the cover of J. The Jewish News of Northern California with a full-length article about the production and the novel.
On Monday morning, we boarded another Southwest flight and returned home.
Theatre of the heart. To touch the heart of another and to remind them of their humanity is our highest calling as artists. Our road trip to Palo Alto was a beautiful reminder of why I chose this life.
Simon Levy is the Producing Director of the Fountain Theatre.