Allison Fund loves a piano

By on September 14, 2011

By: MICHAEL C. UPTON Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

Warwick grad Allison Fund loves a piano.

Actually, it’s musical theater she loves; it just so happens that Fund is one part of the six-member cast of Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre’s current show, "I Love a Piano."

The show, running now through Oct. 1, is an homage to the accomplished career of Irving Berlin. The American songwriter wrote hundreds of songs, many still recognizable to younger generations today. Berlin has penned the music for 19 Broadway plays and written the soundtracks for nearly as many Hollywood films, including "White Christmas," "There’s No Business Like Show Business," and a movie based on his first hit "Alexander’s Ragtime Band."

"We have over sixty songs that we’ll sing of his. It’s really cool," said Fund. "It spans the years 1910 through the 1950s."

Fund explained the show follows a single piano as it touches three archetypical couples throughout three stages of life. Fund plays a part of the younger couple. Starting out in the era of the Great Depression, the play flows chronologically through Berlin’s vast catalogue of work into World War II, ending in the 1950s. The show fits all sixty songs into a two hour and 10 minute show by performing several medleys.

"It’s just a celebration of music, lots of singing and dancing," Fund said.

Her favorite part of the show comes at the end of act one when she gets to sing "God Bless America."

First written in 1918, "God Bless America" blasted into American history in 1938 with a recording by singer Kate Smith.

"You can see how it moves the audience. We get veterans and others who will stand up for the song as soon as it starts. It’s really moving," said Fund. "I also love in act two when I get to play a bum. It’s a bit from ‘Easter Parade.’"

Billed as "the happiest musical ever made," the 1948 film "Easter Parade" featured Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. It was was a box office smash and features "Steppin’ Out with my Baby" and "We’re a Couple of Swells," the later of which Fund performs in "I Love a Piano."

Fund has been working with Prather Entertainment Group, the parent company of the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, since graduating from Montclair State University. After a short stint at Prather’s Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Fort Myers, Florida, Fund returned to Lancaster County. She currently lives in Lancaster City, but loves and has fond memories of Lititz.

"I love this area and how much exposure there is to theater and the arts. I love how small of a town Lititz is. Downtown Lititz is so charming and I love that," Fund said. "It wasn’t until I went away to (college) that I really appreciated Lititz and what I had there."

It was in Lititz where Fund started acting. She caught the bug early, while in elementary school.

"I started performing in first grade. We did a class play of ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’ and I was a peanut-selling monkey. I had so much fun with that," Fund said. "I started looking into theaters in the area. I started taking acting camps and auditioning for things and I’ve been doing it ever since."

As for the future, she admits she likes Lancaster’s proximity to New York City and does make an occasional day trip to the Big Apple to audition for shows, but she likes Lancaster and all it has to offer. If Broadway is in the cards, said Fund, then she would accept it, but she’s just not a fan of the big city.

"I would be happy performing anywhere and working with good people. My ultimate goal is to be able to support myself (by) doing what I love, which I am doing right now. It is pretty awesome. I’m a very lucky girl," Fund said. "I’m very fortunate, I’ve got a very supportive family."

She eventually wants to raise a family of her own and enjoys the work she does with Dutch Apple’s summer theater camp, Broadway Bound. She has some sage advice for younger readers wanting to pursue a career in acting.

"Just stick with it and take every opportunity that is presented to you. I did everything in high school. I sang in the concert choir. I sang in my church choir growing up. I took dance classes, voice lessons, acting classes. I just really took advantage of every opportunity that was presented to me and in Lancaster there are so many," she said. "And just continually audition. Don’t give up. If you don’t get (a part) the first time it’s not the end of the world, just keep trying. That’s the biggest thing with theater, just don’t give up."

In "I Love a Piano," Fund is joined by actors Christopher Russell, John Ramsey, Joshua Littimore, Cheyenne Nelson and Elizabeth Flannagan. More information can be found at dutchapple.com. Ticket prices for dinner and a show range from $48 to $54 with discounts for children and students. Show-only prices are $28 for adults and $16 for children. More FUND, page A15