Opposites attract in a timeless tale
June 9, 2008 · Updated 6:39 PM
Ovation Musical Theatre opens Beauty and the Beast.
Fending off human beasts as a police officer calls for bravado, intelligence and a good sense of timing. Playing a beast on stage calls for a completely different set of skills.
Or so one would think.
Joseph Fountain, who answered an open audition for a spot in Ovation! Musical Theatres production of Disneys Beauty and the Beast and won a principal role, found there actually are a lot of similarities.
But perhaps this is the back story. Fountain lives on Bainbridge and is a full-time SWAT team instructor in the advanced training unit of the Seattle Police Department. His specialty is team tactics. His last theater involvement was in the seventh grade.
Fountain attended Seattle University on an ROTC scholarship and graduated with a bachelors degree in political science in 1992. He then served as an Army Ranger platoon leader and became a police officer.
When he started a normal working persons schedule, he cast about for acting opportunities and learned about Beauty and the Beast.
I used to sing all the songs for my daughters, Fountain said. Both of my daughters (ages 9 and 11) are thrilled that I have the role.
Joseph has an amazing huge resonant voice and the physicality for playing the Beast, said Marijane Milton, who portrays Mrs. Potts and handles marketing for the theater. Hes never done this before. He came to the open audition, met the music director for a couple of lessons and won the part.
Fountain wasnt nervous about the audition.
Cops are a pretty hard audience to teach, he said. Having 30 or 40 cops on a weekly basis really alleviated me of any real stage fright.
As least as it stands now.
Some of his experiences have translated into making acting work for him.
Rote preparation, being as prepared as you possibly can be, and knowing you are so youre not unsure, really boosts your confidence, he said. There are so many unexpected commonalities. Its surprising how many similarities there are (between acting and his professional duties).
By all accounts, Fountain brings gentleness and pathos to his Beast and hes not a bit embarrassed by that.
He told his colleagues about his role and his sergeant an accomplished concert musician was thrilled.
To Fountains delight, he said hes building a fan club to fill the front row and everyones going to wear Beast T-shirts and beards.
To play the Beast effectively, one must be able to exude a range of emotion and handle demanding songs. Director Ron Milton, who worked in tandem with music director/Belle Corinna Lapid-Munter to prepare Fountain, proclaims his novice ready.
It is taking a chance, Milton said. But I cast to talent and heart. That will make up for a lot of experience. An audience will know if its a cliched performance.
Fountain, Milton added, is bringing no excess baggage. He goes from really being scary to absolute joyful and he has great fun.
Getting the technical aspects down allowed Fountain to move into the emotional side of his role.
I have been described as sensitive, sometimes overly so, by my wife and other important people, he said. Rons direction and recognizing Im a novice and taking it slowly with me has (made the difference).
Fountain has had to work the hardest with the music, which feels natural now.
Thats been the biggest challenge, he said. Im pretty comfortable with the dramatic side.
To get the songs down pat, the entire cast worked directly from the same full Broadway score, without amplification.
Ron Milton said his actors are ready for an audience and Fountain certainly agrees.
He also sees more bright lights ahead.
Im having the time of my life, he said.
A beastly tale
Ovation! Musical Theatre presents Disneys Beauty and the Beast July 14 though 30 at the Bainbridge High School LGI Theatre. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday. There also is a 3 p.m. matinee on July 29. Tickets are $21 for adults; $18 for seniors, students and active and retired military personnel and $15 for children 12 and under. There is no reserved seating. Buy tickets at Winslow Drug, www.ovationmtb.com or 842-0472.