Thursday, June 13, 2013

Playhouse Profile: Rick Fountain

Chances are, you have seen Rick Fountain's work at Playhouse on Park or at home in your living room, or both. Mr. Fountain is a featured performer at Playhouse on Park and also maintains our website.

His diversity has landed him roles like Mouse in "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" and Amos Hart in "Chicago." A role he singles out as his favorite.  He also performs with stop/time Dance Theater and he admits "Every show becomes a favorite."

By day Mr. Fountain uses his degree in Computer Science and his background in the HR information systems to work at The Hartford, supporting the company's Learning Management System, which is a tool that all employees use to register for and track courses. "I also give tours of the home office to new hires once a month. Being a tour guide is my dream job, so it's nice to get paid for it." He also gets involved in the creative aspects of company-wide initiatives, using his both his creative and technical skills.

By night, he's a triple threat, a seasoned and talented actor, singer and dancer. Mr. Fountain started acting in high school, he was the president of his drama club in his senior year and sang in the concert choir and started dancing in college, performing in shows at the University of Hartford "I didn't perform for a number of years after that, until I started auditioning for community theater. I First worked with the Mark Twain Masquers and has been doing shows ever since."

Enter the partnership of Rick Fountain and Playhouse on Park.  "I have known Darlene Zoller for twenty years and have taken dance classes with her and been in shows she has choreographed." Having performed at the Park Road Playhouse, he was already familiar with the space. "When Darlene, Tracy Flater and Sean Harris took the reins, I found myself painting the dressing rooms, so I guess you could say I've been there since the beginning."

His performance talents are not just limited to the stage, he has performed at A.C. Petersens Main Stage Monday and is a  regular at Falcetti Friday, a weekly, informal cabaret at Falcetti Music in Blue Back Square from 5:30 to 7:30. He credits that weekly singing with helping to keep his voice in shape. "I also sing in the choir at St. Peter Claver church in West Hartford."

Of course such success is hard work. Take for example the Playhouse on Park website,  a website that is always changing, shows and casts come and go, special events pop up and need to be promoted, this requires a lot of updates to the site, especially with season number five fast approaching "When a new season is announced, which is happening about now, there are lots of new pages that need to be created and menus to update in order to present all the new season information. That's the biggest effort of the year."

The hard work continues on the performance side, there is the never ending task of auditioning, then if you get cast, the rehearsals and of course the culmination, the performances themselves. Enter the classic actor's nightmare, going blank. The lines you memorized sometimes suddenly jump ship from your brain.  "I had a terrifying experience in a show where I forgot my lines in this one scene. I had done the show a few times already, so I knew them somewhere in my brain." Mr. Fountain admits to being "mortified" as he went off stage. "Of course no one in the audience knew  and the pause wasn't nearly as long as my terror magnified it to be."

His dedication to the craft pays off with a great cast. "The best experiences for me are when I'm in a cast where everyone becomes such a team of close friends, all rooting for one another. No egos, just a genuine love for each other and respect for what everyone brings to the table." It also can pay off with the audience. "The other best experience, I think for any performer is knowing the audience is with you and giving you such support, love and hopefully, applause."

Then there's always the fun fan experiences, in particular after a children's show, such as the aforementioned "If You Give a Mouse A Cookie" when the cast greeted the children in the lobby. "The kids want your autograph and are just so sweet." A well produced show can leave an indelible mark in your mind. "I met one of the moms after this year's stop/time show and she told me how her daughter still talks about that show. Those are the experiences that make you smile and reward you with knowing that what you do impacts someone else." On a personal note, I thoroughly enjoyed  that show and wish they'd return it to the stage, if for only a weekend and only if Rick Fountain and Kevin Barlowski reprise their roles of Mouse and Boy...Just sayin'

When asked about other shows Mr. Fountain would like to see Playhouse on Park produce "Well you know you can't ask that question without getting a suggestion that wouldn't include me!" He goes on to mention the following musicals: "Avenue Q", "Sweeney Todd", "Forever Plaid, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" He adds "I have also been told that the two person chamber musical 'The Story of My Life' has a great role for me, so let's just put that out there in the universe."

Mr. Fountain, a mild mannered IT Guy and tour guide by day, an unstoppable source of entertainment by night. All of it wrapped in to an affable man, for whom you'd gladly give the shirt off your back, if he asked you for it, and he has. 

Needing a black shirt to wear for one Main Stage Monday at A.C. Petersens. Cut to me entering the playhouse that night, wearing a black shirt. That one Monday night, Mr. Fountain sang an strolled throughout the restaurant singing as good as he always does and dressed as sharp as ever. A couple days later the shirt was returned washed and ready to wear. That's just the sort of things you do for friends. 

Five years from now, his daughter will just be graduating from college. He plans to continue working at the Hartford and hopes to still have opportunities to perform and travel. "Those are two of my passions." 

Perhaps ten years from now when they are remaking "Les Miserables" he could play the role of Javert.  When asked about what movie role you would have done a better job than who was actually cast, that one was a "No brainer. But who couldn't have done a better job."

This was a glimpse in to the life of Rick Fountain, and whatever he is doing, five, ten, fifteen, twenty and many more years from now he'll be doing it with the same level of excellence he has brought to everything he's done thus far. Stay tuned and sing along!

Monday, June 3, 2013

My Cabaret Consternation

Cabaret, a groundbreaking musical set in 1920's Berlin at a seedy cabaret called the Kit Kat Club opens June 12th at Playhouse on Park. The show features svelte performers traversing provocatively across the stage and throughout the lobby.

Enter my consternation, a sudden alarming, amazement or dread. I am not svelte, and if I were to traverse provocatively anywhere in public, I would run the risk of being subjected  to scorn and ridicule and possibly interrogated about my mental status. Let's face it, if I saw myself doing that, I'd do the same thing.

So back in April I decided to get in to Cabaret form, determined to strut my slender, house manager physique to the delight of all eager theater attendees. Confidently I vowed to myself and others that I would not be tempted by the momentary pleasures of sugary delights. Cake, candy bars, soda, ice cream and cookies be gone, you are the enemy of fitness, the forbidden fruit in the garden of sexiness.

Almost immediately problems occurred, namely I was hungry. I rushed to the grocery store to purchase low fat and fat free choices, with the intent to avoid  the calorie laden treats of yesteryear...That was the intent, however it was not reality. My internal autopilot  brought me to the first aisle of doom...the cookie aisle, oh the horror. My mind was filled with mega stuffed, double, triple chocolate chip, chocolate frosted bliss.

It was as though my shopping cart was possessed. It brought me to every aisle I wasn't supposed to be in, it seemingly refused to allow any healthy option to enter it. I was being held hostage by my shopping cart, a perpetual victim of its fat inducing tyranny.

My last bastion of hope was the checkout person. The disappearance of my fat ass  rested solely on the meek teenager or the indignant geriatric. Certainly they would understand my plight and forcibly  remove the offensive items from my demon shopping cart, replacing those items  with the appropriate ones needed to achieve my goal...Wait, what's this, no, not the self-checkout line. Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Later that night, as I sat in my recliner, a satisfied junk food junkie, surrounded by empty packaging, my emotions were mixed. On the one hand, I sure did enjoy the greasy goodness of a not so bygone era. On the  other hand that same greasy goodness just signed a twenty year mortgage with my hips.

Tomorrow is exercise day, unless it's raining, or chilly, or cloudy, or partly cloudy, or partly cloudy with a chance of sunshine, or a bright sunny day, then it could be too hot and I sweat too much. People can die from heat exhaustion. Besides, I have to work ALL day. By the time I get home it'll be dark. I can't exercise in the dark, I could get mugged. If I get mugged I may have to take time off work. If I can't work, I'll stay home all day. If  stay home all day, I'll just eat. I could go out...nope the weather is outside. Anywhere I go, I'll just end up spending money, money I don't have because I'm not working. I could exercise indoors, but then my house will smell like sweat. If my house smells like sweat, people won't come over. I'll lose all my friends and be ostracized from polite society. I'll end up being a recluse with nothing more to offer society...Screw it, I'm having a hot fudge sundae. I can always just work the box office, there you can only see me from the waist up.

Speaking of box office, get your tickets now for Cabaret which runs from June 12 to July 21, an astounding six week run. All the Playhouse on Park stars are aligned for this amazing show and you'll be a part of it from the moment you enter.  Call 860-523-5900 x10 for tickets, or order them online at

Don't forget, the first Sunday matinee of the run is a talk back, this your chance to ask the cast questions.

There's a free open mic night which starts ten minutes after the show on Saturday, June 22. Bring your own sheet music and sing along or just watch, either way you'll have a blast. I may even sing...along with people who can actually sing.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Play It Again Sam - Now Playing

Woody Allen's comedy about a recent a divorcee named Allan Felix, whose neurotic behavior leads to awkward interactions with women is now on stage at Playhouse on Park in the renowned Park Road District of West Hartford.

The creative team here at Playhouse on Park has a je ne sais quoi when it comes to selecting and casting our shows. We have a history of diversity when it comes to the shows we produce. With a broad array of shows  comes a diverse group of talented individuals selected to bring well written characters to life. "Play It Again Sam" is no exception. 

Zane Johnston who plays Allan Felix, puts a comic spin on a man who is suddenly thrust back in to the dating world, we laugh with and root for him, from the time his wife humiliates him, on her way out the door through the awkward interactions with other women.

Bethany Fitzgerald plays his soon to be ex wife and all the other women he encounters throughout his tumultuous navigation of newly found singlehood. She glides effortlessly through costume and accent changes to bring a variety of women to life, including a dancer at a disco.  Bethany is no stranger to dance, having played Roxie Hart in our production of "Chicago".

Dan Matisa, plays his good friend Dick Christie, a business oriented man determined to help Allan forget about his ex and find a new lady for him.  

Marnye Young plays Dick's wife Linda, who helps her husband with Allan's plight and gets more than she bargained for. 

Some of the funniest moments come in Allan's dream scenarios when Zane, Dan and Marnye add new layers to their characters.

Ted D'Agostino plays Humphrey Bogart with a soft spoken coolness while donning his signature accent and trench coat. He strolls in and out offering his sage advice. Ted has appeared recently in "Of Mice and Men" and "Go Dog Go" at the playhouse.

So take in to consideration Woody Allen's reputation for excellent cinema and stage presentations, Playhouse on Park's exceptional production value it pours in to every show, the actors who bring the words to life and the expert direction of Russell Treyz, then find someone to take with you to the show.

Play It Again Sam runs through March 24th. Call 860-523-5900 x10 for the best and most affordable ticket in town.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

But Wait There's More

It's only a couple of weeks in to 2013, and already so much has happened at Playhouse on Park.  A packed house welcomed 2013 at our Annual New Year's Eve Murder Mystery party. We had a workshop for a new work called "The Clowns." A rock opera written and composed locally. We had a comedian/mime perform two shows and sold out the place and then some for our third Comedy Night of the season.

But Wait There's More.

The set for our next main stage show, Moonlight & Magnolias is already up. The show is a rip roaring farce with witty, pointed dialogue and hilarious situations. The story centers on three of Hollywood's greatest film collaborators who are locked in a room for five days as they rush to rewrite the screenplay for "Gone With The Wind" which has halted production after just three weeks.

Having been at the playhouse during rehearsals, I could hear the madcap hilarity going on behind closed doors. Also, while hauling old set pieces out, I saw a variety of props strewn across the stage.  What they all were and how they got there, I don't know, but I can't wait t find out.

If your lifelong dream is to become a subscriber to Playhouse on Park and you thought you had missed your chance, well good news, you have not. Order a four show subscription now, which starts with Moonlight & Magnolias, followed by Play it Again Sam, stop/time dance theater: Ten and Counting & Cabaret. Call the box office at 860-523-5900 x 10 to order, or ask us some questions.  Anyone who answers the phone can help you.

Now if you're like me, and who wouldn't want to be like me? That's a rhetorical question.  Anyway, if you are like me, you probably want to help out at Playhouse on Park, but weren't sure how.  Here's how, come party with us, that's right party.  You see we have these two old gals who run the place, Tracy and Darlene (Sean helps too). Their collective age is 101, so there throwing themselves a birthday party and gifts are welcome, not for them, but for the playhouse. Not sure what you can get us? We've compiled a list: Copy and paste in to your browser, then go to the store.

The party is Friday, February 15th, starting at 7:00 PM. Join us as we play games like:

Spin the Metamucil Bottle, Connect The Liver Spots, False Teeth Toss, & Guess What's In My Diaper? And many more. We all hope you join us for a night they won't remember, but you will.

But Wait There's More...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spontaneous Blogging - Comedy Night

So it's Thanksgiving Eve here at Playhouse on Park and we're gearing up for the first event in a fun-filled weekend of comedy and music..

Tonight is comedy night and just a few minutes ago, the first comedian arrived, Jeff Lutz, followed a few minutes later by our second of three comedians Bob Carroll.

The lobby is being festively decorated for the return of Mama D's Outrageous Romp this Saturday night, two shows of music, dancing, comedy and outrageous behavior.  Darlene Zoller, our Artistic Director puts the "D" in Mama D.

Our Box Office Guru and Subscriber Relations Expert Spencer Pond is prepping for the mad rush of people who will descend on our venue, ready to get their laugh on.

Dawn Loveland is our Stage Manager tonight. She is perfecting the lights and sound for tonight's show

Barbara Jurgelas, a comedy veteran and scheduler of the funny people for the playhouse has strolled in for the night's festivities.

There are plenty of tickets available so come on over and escape the hectic holiday preparations for an hour and a half.  Tickets are only $15.00.  The event is BYOB.  If you are going to BYOB, could you also BSFM (bring some for me)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Miss Nelson is on The Marquee

So recently, someone, who shall go unnamed said that I was "Technologically challenged" when it came to posting photos to the playhouse blog.  Boo ya! Nailed it. Take that Tracy Flater..........Oops. 

Not only did I put the picture of the marquee on the blog, I also assembled the letters for the marquee, climbed the shaky ladder and without fear of personal harm, attached the letters to the marquee. 

On any given marquee-changing day, I generally receive spontaneous applause from grateful passersby, that day was no exception. Don't worry, a humble man takes the adulation in great stride. I on the other hand did a hip celebratory dance in honor of myself.

Come see "Miss Nelson is Missing" this weekend at Playhouse on Park. 1:00 & 4:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are only $13.00 for children and $15.00 for adults. This hilarious show runs about forty-five minutes. Meet the cast in the lobby after the show, or at A.C. Petersen Farms, when they do a walk through after each performance. Call 860-523-5900 x10 for tickets and answers to all your questions, up to and including how I got to be such a great dancer.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Festival of Fun

The dictionary defines a festival as a period or program of festive activities, cultural events or entertainment. If it's a festive activity you seek that is cultural and entertaining, then look no further, Playhouse on Park presents The 24-Hour Playwriting Festival.

You're intrigued, I know, I see you sitting there wearing your whimsical smile of curiosity. By the way, you look marvelous! Okay, here's the deal, A group of ambitious individuals assembles at the performance venue exactly 24 hours prior to show time. The eager artists are randomly put in to to groups consisting of a playwright, director and actors. They spend some time getting to know each other and begin to formulate a plot for their play.

When I stopped by the playhouse tonight, each of our four groups had been selected and were seated at various locations throughout the playhouse. After their initial meeting, people new to the playhouse were given a tour of the stage by their directors. at 9:00PM festival organizer Dawn Loveland dismissed the actors and directors and helped set up writing stations for the playwrights, who will spend the night writing the play.

At 8:00AM the actors and directors return, hopefully having already been e-mailed a copy of the script by the playwright, who should be home sleeping. Hopefully not to find the playwright curled up in the fetal position on the floor muttering to themselves, although that would make a hilarious concept for a short play.

The actors and directors begin to rehearse the play first thing.  Early afternoon, the playwrights will return to help the others produce the show in any number of ways, including locating props and costumes. The group will work through the afternoon to bring the shows together. Each group will get one hour in the theater to tech their show i.e. work out lighting and sound issues. Once all the elements come together, the only issues will be the ones you'll see on stage.

Come see the results of their hard work on Saturday, August 4th at 8:00PM. General admission seats are just $10.00. Or by calling the playhouse box office at 860-523-5900 x10.

Here are the names and titles for each of our four groups:

Group A
Playwright - Jacques Lamarre
Director - Carolyn Cumming
Cast - Robyn Belt, Thomas Doelger, Amanda Forker, Susan Rattigan

Group B
Playwright - Peython Echelson Russell
Director - Tasya Albert
Cast - Hillary Ekwall, Denise Walker, Ginny Wolf

Group C
Playwright - Terri Klein
Director - Helena Morris
Cast - Annie Coursey, Aaron Petre, Laurel White

Group D
Playwright - Matt Macca
Director - Becky Beth Benedict
Cast - Molly Cook, Will Matus, Charles Merils