Victoria Ndefo and Dr. Ejike Ndefo, opening night of ‘The Chosen’.
With great sadness, the Fountain Theatre mourns the loss of our dear friend and board member Dr. Ejike Ndefo, who passed away Tuesday, May 29th at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles. He was 79 years old.
Married to his beloved wife Victoria for 26 years, the couple shared five children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Ejike and Victoria have been part of The Fountain Family for more than fifteen years.
“Ejike was a dear and gentle man who radiated sweetness,” reflects Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “He was one of those lovely beings who glowed with an aura of warmth and graciousness. We will miss him dearly.”
Ejike Ndefo was born in Nigeria in 1939. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Ph.D in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. While he was at the University of California, Berkeley, Ejike played a major role in the travelling theatre group raising money in support of the humanitarian effort in the Nigerian-Biafran war. He worked in several Aerospace companies including Northrop Corporation, TRW, and The Aerospace Corporation on such programs as Space Defense Initiative, Space Shuttle, and design of large rockets for launch of spacecraft and satellites. He retired as the Director of Fluid Mechanics Department from The Aerospace Corporation in August 2015 after forty one years. For the past three years, Ejike has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Normandie Church of Christ, Los Angeles. He joined the Fountain Theatre Board of Directors in 2017.
Always glowing with a positive outlook, Ejike recently shared this reminder: “Life is meant to be lived to its fullest. You can’t allow things to take over your ability to rejoice with the life God has given you to live.”
In honor of his memory, a plaque will placed on an audience seat in the Fountain Theatre, front row center, where Ejike sat next to Victoria for so many years.
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
Ejike and Victoria Ndefo, Stephen Sachs, Opening Night ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’
The Fountain Theatre is pleased to welcome retired Aerospace Engineer Ejike Ndefo to its Board of Directors. Ejike and his wife, Victoria, are avid theatre lovers, and have been part of The Fountain Family for more than fifteen years.
“Victoria and I have been residents of Los Feliz for more than 30 years,” says Ndefo. “We love theatre and we fell in love with The Fountain Theatre the first time we saw a play there about 15 years ago.”
What was it about the Fountain that caught their eye and captured their hearts?
“We are continually impressed by the originality and quality of the plays at the Fountain, as well as the intimate environment,” he explains. “As such, The Fountain is a great place to see the plays of great writers. We will be remiss if we do not mention the professionalism and friendliness of The Fountain staff. They have always been gracious.”
Ejike graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a doctorate in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. While he was at the University of California, Berkeley, Ejike played a major role in the travelling theatre group raising money in support of the humanitarian effort in the Nigerian-Biafran war. He worked in several Aerospace companies including Northrop Corporation, TRW, and The Aerospace Corporation on such programs as Space Defense Initiative, Space Shuttle, and design of large rockets for launch of spacecraft and satellites. He retired as the Director of Fluid Mechanics Department from The Aerospace Corporation in August 2015 after forty one years. For the past two years, Ejike has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Normandie Church of Christ, Los Angeles.
“It’s deeply gratifying when a longtime Fountain supporter like Ejike chooses to assume a role of leadership by joining our Board of Directors,” says Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “We share a love of the Fountain and a commitment to creating meaningful theatre for the city of Los Angeles. Ejike joins our Board at a pivotal time as we look forward and seek to broaden and enhance our artistic service to the community. ”
Packed house in the round for Opening Night of ‘Dream Catcher’
Our world premiere production of Dream Catcher by Stephen Sachs opened this weekend to a flurry of parties, standing ovations and enthusiastic response. A packed sold-out audience on Saturday night was thrilled with director Cameron Watson’s in-the-round staging and riveted by the kinetic performances of Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell. Dream Catcher runs to March 21.
A select group of Fountain donors and board members enjoyed an early look at Dream Catcher Friday night at the final Donor Preview. They included actor Alan Mandell, Lois Fishman, Ejike and Victoria Ndefo, Nick Ullett, Ruth Tavlin, Patty Paul, Bill Butler, Susan Stockel, Dick Motika and Jerrie Whitfield, and Oscar and Nyla Arslanian. They were joined by Director of Development Barbara Goodhill, Co-Artistic Director Deborah Lawlor, producing Director Simon Levy, and members of the Fountain team. After the performance, all celebrated upstairs in the cafe for a catered party with the actors and company.
After seeing Dream Catcher, actor Alan Mandell beamed, “A terrific performance. Very intense. Exciting theater directed by that master director Cameron Watson. A wonderful script from Stephen Sachs. Don’t miss it.”
A packed sold-out audience filled the theatre on Saturday’s Opening Night. The provocative in-the-round setting — dubbed “Fountain 360” — created heightened excitement and electricity. At the post-show reception, playwright Stephen Sachs was surprised by a special guest in attendance: Louis Sahagun, the LA Times reporter who wrote the original article in 2012 that inspired Sachs to write the play.
LA Times writer Louis Sahagun congratulates Sachs (right) on Opening Night.
Early reviews for Dream Catcher are starting to come in. The Examiner hails it as “Extraordinary! A must see!” LA Splash raves the “Stunning performances.”
Feel it. Full circle. In the round. Experience Fountain 360 for yourself.
Friday night was an exclusive gathering at the Fountain Theatre of special patrons invited to enjoy an early performance of the world stage premiere that they helped make happen. Executive Producers of Citizen: An American Lyric and their guests were welcomed to the Fountain for a preview performance in their honor, followed by a catered reception with the artists upstairs in our cafe. It was a lively evening of thought-provoking theatre, energetic conversation, and invigorating food and drink.
Two months ago, the Executive Producers attended an exclusive reading of Citizen, the new project the Fountain was developing about race in America based on the internationally acclaimed and award-winning book by Claudia Rankine. Even in that early phase of development, those gathered recognized the urgent need for this project to blossom to fruition and offered their financial support. Their contributions were essential in guaranteeing that Citizen would be produced at the highest artistic level possible and reach a wide landscape of audiences. Thanks to the partnership made by our Executive Producers, the Fountain was able to increase its marketing and promotional campaign for Citizen, reach out to more schools and engage more students, and establish a greater range of associations with a diverse variety of organizations for the project.
The Executive Producers of Citizen are Barbara Herman, Susan Stockel, Dorothy and Stanley Wolpert, Diana Buckhantz, Marjorie Goldman, Debra Grieb and John Mickus, Karen Kondazian, Sophie and Leslie MacConnell, Brenda and Brett Marsh, Dick Motika and Jerrie Whitfield, Dr. Ejike and Mrs. Victoria Ndefo, Rita Rothman, Barbara and Barry Shaffer, and Lois Tandy.
Too often, many may view or experience the daily sickness of racism and ask themselves , “What can I do?” The Fountain Theatre and this community of extraordinary and generous people joined together as a family and made the decision to do something. For that, we are proud and will forever be grateful.