|The set of The Fantasticks.|
.Putting on a musical is…complicated. Think about all of the elements that go into producing a play—actors, lights, sets, costumes, sound. Then add in music, singing, and dancing. Director Amanda Dehnert takes the process a step further: She has taken a beloved classic musical—The Fantasticks—and infused new and magical life into it.
For The Fantasticks, Dehnert took her inspiration from the mysterious stranger, El Gallo. Her approach to the musical re-imagines its setting and atmosphere as an abandoned amusement park, invoking the magical innocence of a long-past time. Inspired by the Rocky Point Park in Rhode Island—Eugene Lee’s set design includes actual pieces from that park, which closed in 1995—Dehnert explains that these common local amusement parks “represent a desire for a simpler, easier time in America.” She describes the setting as a place where people once went to escape their cares, but in its abandoned state, the park now is full of the ghosts of happiness and joy. It’s a place where “magic makes the impossible seem possible even for a moment” and a world where things do not always turn out the way we expect.
|Rocky Point Park in Rhode Island|
The story is straightforward: Two fathers scheme to make their children Matt and Luisa fall in love by pretending to feud and keep them apart. To seal the deal, they hire El Gallo to stage an abduction of Luisa that would allow Matt to rescue her heroically. Will the lovers lose themselves in the magic and moonlight or find their way into the sobering light of day? Will their separation provide a deeper appreciation for the love they once shared—or create a permanent gulf between them?
|Addi McDaniel, Perry Ojeda and Anthony Carillo in The Fantasticks.|
Photo by Debra Robinson.
|The Fantasticks creators Harvey |
Schmidt and Tom Jones
The Fantasticks creators Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones began writing together while students at the University of Texas. After partnering successfully on a few revues, they became entranced with French playwright Edmond Rostand (probably best known for his play Cyrano de Bergerac). After reading his more well-known works, they hunted down a copy from a rare book dealer in France of the first play he’d written, Les Romanesques, published in 1894, which spoofs Romeo and Juliet. The Fantasticks presents views on love, marriage and relationships that can feel sweet one moment and cynical the next—and therein lies the universal truth of this modern classic.