LA STAGE Alliance announced yesterday that the Fountain Theatre has been honored with 18 Ovation Award nominations, the largest number of any intimate theatre for the 2018/19 season. The Fountain’s nominations include Best Season for overall excellence.
The Ovation Awards are the only peer-judged theatre awards in Los Angeles, created to recognize excellence in theatrical performance, production, and design in the Greater Los Angeles area.
During the 2018-29 season, there were 278 total productions registered for the Ovation Awards from 124 different producing bodies, resulting in 199 total nominations for 64 distinct productions presented by 43 organizations. These productions were voted on by 272 Ovation Awards voters — vetted individuals from the Greater Los Angeles area who are working theatre professionals.
The Fountain Theatre received the following Ovation Award nominations:
BEST SEASON Fountain Theatre Cost of Living Daniel’s Husband Hype Man: a Break Beat Play
BEST PRODUCTION OF A PLAY (Intimate Theatre) Cost of Living Daniel’s Husband
ACTING ENSEMBLE OF A PLAY Cost of Living Daniel’s Husband
DIRECTION OF A PLAY John Vreeke – Cost of Living
LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY Tim Cummings – Daniel’s Husband Felix Solis – Cost of Living
LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY Katy Sullivan – Cost of Living
FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY Tobias Forrest – Cost of Living
FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY Jenny O’Hara – Daniel’s Husband Xochitl Romero – Cost of Living
LIGHTING DESIGN (Intimate Theatre) Chu-Hsuan Chang – Hype Man: A Break Beat Play Jennifer Edwards – Daniel’s Husband John Garofalo – Cost of Living
Tim Cummings, Bill Brochtrup and Jenny O’Hara in Daniel;s Husband.
The Fountain Theatre’s acclaimed Southern California Premiere of Daniel’s Husband by Michael McKeever will extend to July 28. Hailed as Critic’s Choice in the LA Times and highlighted as Ovation Award Recommended, the comedy/drama about a gay couple wrestling with the issue of marriage has earned rave reviews and sold-out houses from the night it first opened May 4.
There is the rule of law, and there are the laws of the heart. Which do we follow and when? 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. Michael McKeever’s funny, passionate and poignant play takes an unflinching look at how we choose to tie the knot — or not.
Daniel’s Husband is directed by Simon Levy, starring Bill Brochtrup, Tim Cummings, Jose Fernando, Ed Martin, and Jenny O’Hara.
“CRITIC’S CHOICE…ABSORBING… THE ACTORS ARE WONDERFUL… [A] CROWD PLEASER” — Los Angeles Times
“A PERFECT 10…WITTY, REALISTIC, HEART-RENDERING” — Broadway World
“GO SEE‘DANIEL’S HUSBAND’… THESE ARE SOME OF THE FINEST ACTORS IN L.A.” —KCRW 89.9 FM
“AS CLOSE TO PERFECT AS ONE MIGHT ENVISION…. WRENCHING, REAL, FLAWLESSLY STAGED, STIRRINGLY PERFORMED” — Cultural Weekly
“OUTSTANDING… PERFECTLY SCRIPTED. ACTED AND DIRECTED” — Culver City News
“A REMARKABLE SCRIPT… TRUE LIFE, TRUE FRIENDSHIP AND TRUE DESPAIR” —Discover Hollywood
“SUPERIOR… AN EXCITING PIECE OF QUALITY THEATRE” — Hollywood Revealed
“WOW!… [A] LAUGH-OUT-LOUD-THEN-GET-OUT-YOUR-HANKIES STUNNER… NOT-TO-BE-MISSED” — Stage Scene LA
“EXQUISITELY WRITTEN, SUPERBLY DIRECTED AND EXCELLENTLY PERFORMED” —Will Call for Theatre
“TREMENDOUSLY ENTERTAINING AND WELL-WRITTEN… A TERRIFIC SHOW” — Los Angeles Post
“RELEVANT AND AFFECTING” — Stage Raw
“ABOUT LOVE… the ABSOLUTE BEAUTY of McKeever’s story rings true” — On Stage Los Angeles
“INSISTENTLY MOVING… CRISP AND TIMELY” — People’s World
“A FINE PLAY WITH SOMETHING TO SAY… EXCELLENTLY PERFORMED” — San Diego Gay & Lesbian News
“TWO THUMBS UP” — Carol’s Reviews
“RESONATED LONG AFTER THE FINAL MOMENTS” — Showmag
“RELEVANT AND UNIVERSAL” — Stage and Cinema
“A VERY FINE PRODUCTION” — Talkin’ Broadway
“GUARANTEED TO LEAVE YOU MOVED AND EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTED” — Ticket Holders LA
“BREATHTAKING… A TRULY EXCEPTIONAL CAST… TIMELY AND PROVOCATIVE” — Billy Masters.
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.
“Ms. Smith Goes to Washington” at Los Angeles City Hall
by Christine Deitner
On Thursday, January 24th a lucky group of citizens in Los Angeles was treated to a unique experience–The Fountain Theatre’s reading of a gender-switched adaptation of Sidney Buchman’s screenplay, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.The Fountain’s Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs adapted the work that was hosted by Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell.An impressively talented ensemble of tv, film, and theatre veterans gathered in the John Ferraro Council Chamber in Los Angeles City Hall and though the original work is 79 years old the gender switch makes it feel like yesterday’s tweetstorm or this morning’s news.
Sponsored, in part, by the Feminist Majority Foundation and in association with the League of Women Voters, the event’s cast included Joshua Malina, Jeff Perry, Bellamy Young, Sam Waterston, Alan Blumenfeld, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Leith Burke, Tim Cummings, Cameron Dye, Spencer Garrett, Chet Grissom, Morlan Higgins, Aurelia Myers, Jenny O’Hara, Felix Solis, Jack Stehlin, Mark Taylor, and Sal Viscuso.
Councilmember O’Farrell introduced Mr. Sachs with a moving speech about the importance of the arts in society.
“Politics falls short of completely illuminating the complexity of issues,” he stated, “this is where the arts come in.”
In 2017, Mr. O’Farrell hosted the Fountain’s reading of All The Presidents Men and he noted that he hopes this will become an annual event.Reflecting on the record number of women who now hold public office, O’Farrell also spoke about the role that local artists play as public servants, illuminating issues in unique ways.
In Sachs’ version, an idealistic, newly elected female senator finds herself fighting corruption in male-dominated Washington. Bellamy Young’s take on the movingly patriotic Jennifer Smith [originally Jefferson played by James Stewart] is endearing and as successful as a figure of naive nobility as Mr. Stewart was in the film.It doesn’t seem like Mr. Sachs had to change very much beyond references to gender [Girl Rangers here instead of Boy Rangers] and one reference to “fake news” that worked very well in context, but boy does Jennifer Smith’s predicament feel familiar.
It’s Governor Hopper’s daughter [it was a son in the film] who encourages her father to choose Jennifer with the line “It’s 1939, not the dark ages, pop.” and a list of women who have held office before.It shouldn’t have been surprising to hear it but we can thank Mr. Sachs for educating us about these women that included Senators Rebecca Latimer Felton  and Hattie Caraway .Sam Waterston has the role of one of two villains, Senator Joseph Paine; a man who knew Jennifer’s father yet openly wonders whether they can “control a woman” in Congress. The other is Jim Taylor, a nefarious businessman/mob figure played by Jeff Perry.
Fans of the film will know that Smith speaks fondly of his father a number of times, recalling that he often said, “Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.”As Jennifer learns that a swath of land in her state is going to be turned into a useless dam that is only an avenue for graft, she becomes determined to fight for that land where she was hoping to create a girls camp for young women across the nation.Joshua Malina is her charmingly cynical assistant Chester Saunders [Jean Arthur in the film] who begrudgingly assists her in writing a bill for that girl’s camp.As they work together, Jennifer’s enthusiasm for the bill starts to wear down Saunders’ certainty it will fail and when she becomes aware of the relief bill that includes the dam, she decides to filibuster with his help.
Paine and his pro-dam cohorts do all they can to attack Jennifer’s character as they angrily state any blocking of the relief bill will lead to starving the people.Paine likens her attempt to hold the floor to holding the people hostage.There was an audible gasp in the audience followed by a few laughs for this reading took place near the end of Trump’s wall-inspired government shutdown.All of the pain that shutdown was inflicting on government workers was present in the room at that moment.
Jennifer stands firm in her convictions, even when Paine reads telegrams purportedly from her home state asking her to stop. She reads the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and goes on till her voice is hoarse and even Paine can’t take her suffering anymore.He breaks down and admits everything – and when Waterston embodied that moment, he tore the roof off the place, it was awe-inspiring.Jennifer and Saunders have one last moment of celebration before the ends that felt a little rushed but that might have been due to the fact that the TVs behind the cast popped on.
In lieu of credits, images of every woman who has held a seat in Congress appeared in succession on the screens. Members of the audience stood to applaud them, with more standing when California’s own Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein appeared.But it wasn’t till the video closed on a split screen image featuring Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren that the whole house got to their feet shouting.It was a memorable, moving moment that reminded this reviewer of all the things that can be good and honorable and right in this country.It also seemed like a hell of an idea for a presidential ticket in 2020 but that just shows how easy it was to get swept up in Jennifer Smith’s patriotic fervor.Ms. Smith may seem naive and inexperienced, but that character’s faith in what is good in the country is honorable and constant – and those are traits we could all stand to develop in our own lives today.