Photo Flash: Reprise Theater Company's THE FANTASTICKS

Eric McCormack, Emmy Award winner for "Will & Grace," will play El Gallo, Lucas Grabeel from "High School Musical" will play Matt, and Broadway star and Tony nominee Harry Groener will play Bellomy in "The Fantasticks," which concludes the 2008-2009 Reprise Theatre Company at the Freud Playhouse May 5-May 17 (press opening May 6).

With music by Harvey Schmidt and book and lyrics by Tom Jones, "The Fantasticks" is the world's longest-running musical and will be performed in Los Angeles as its current New York revival continues running off-Broadway.

The cast also features Barry Dennen, who was the original Pontius Pilate in the Broadway and film version of "Jesus Christ Superstar," as Henry. Dennen was also the original Emcee in the first West End production of "Cabaret." Hap Lawrence plays Mortimer, Kim Mikesell plays the Mute, Eileen T'Kaye plays Hucklebee, and Alison Woods plays Luisa.

"The Fantasticks" will be directed by Jason Alexander, artistic director of Reprise Theatre Company, with choreography by Lee Martino, and musical direction by Darryl Archibald. The production will feature scenic design by Bradley Kaye, costume design by Kate Bergh, lighting design by Driscoll Otto and sound design by Philip G. Allen.

Single tickets are now available for "The Fantasticks" online at www.reprise.org or through the UCLA Central Ticket Office at 310/825-2101.

Eric McCormack (El Gallo) is most known for playing Will Truman on "Will & Grace" and won an Emmy Award for the role. He played Professor Harold Hill on Broadway in the Susan Stroman revival of "The Music Man," and later played the part as part of the Hollywood Bowl Summer Concert series. McCormack currently stars in the series "Trust Me."
Lucas Grabeel (Matt) has played Ryan Evans in the Disney Channel films "High School Musical" and "High School Musical 2" and in the theatrical "High School Musical 3: Senior Year." All three features were directed by Kenny Ortega, who also shepherded Grabeel and other cast members through a 42-city national tour following the success of the first film. Lucas played "Danny Nicoletta" in "Milk," directed by Gus Van Sant.
Harry Groener's (Bellomy) Broadway credits include "Is There Life After High School?", Will Parker in "Oklahoma!" (Tony Award nomination, Theatre World Award), Munkustrap in "Cats" (Tony nomination), Georges/George in "Sunday in the Park With George", and Bobby Child in "Crazy for You" (Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations). In 1999 he performed off-Broadway with Twiggy at the Lucille Lortel Theater in "If Love Were All," a musical revue based on the friendship of Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence. He has performed in regional theatres across the country, including the San Diego Old Globe Theatre (where he is an associate artist), Mark Taper Forum, Westwood Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, Long Wharf Theater, A.C.T., and the Williamstown Theater Festival. Groener's television appearances include "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Star Trek: Voyager," Star Trek: Enterprise," Richard Wilkins on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and he was a regular on the series "Dear John."

Jason Alexander is proud to be serving as Artistic Director for Reprise and is delighted to be working with its wonderful staff and Board of Directors. Jason is probably best known for his 9 year, award-winning stint as George Costanza on the hit TV series, "Seinfeld." However, those who know him only as George will be surprised to learn of his extensive background as an actor, director, producer, and writer. Besides "Seinfeld," his television credits include: "Bob Patterson" (prod./co-creator); "Listen Up" (prod.); the TV films of "Bye Bye Birdie," "The Man Who Saved Christmas," "Cinderella", and "A Christmas Carol;" guest appearances on "Newhart," "Friends," "Monk," "Star Trek-Voyager," "Malcolm in the Middle," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and multiple episodes of the animated series "Duckman," "Aladdin," "Dilbert," and "Dinosaurs." His film credits include: "Pretty Woman;" "White Palace;" "North;" "Dunston Checks In;" "Love, Valor, Compassion;" "Rocky and Bullwinkle," "Ira and Abby" and the upcoming, "Hachiko." Jason has starred on Broadway in the original companies of "Merrily We Roll Along;" "The Rink;" "Broadway Bound;" "Accomplice;" and "Jerome Robbins' Broadway," for which he won the Tony, Outer Critics, and Drama Desk Awards as Best Actor in a Musical. He also authored the libretto of the show, which received the Tony Award for Best

Musical. On the L.A. stage, Jason has starred in "Give ‘Em Hell, Harry;" "Defiled;" the long-running hit of "The Producers" with Martin Short and the very first Reprise production, "Promises, Promises." Jason has directed in every medium: Television ("Seinfeld," "Remember WENN," "Campus Ladies," "Everybody Hates Chris"); Film ("For Better or Worse" and "Just Looking") and Stage ("The God of Hell" at the Geffen; "Sunday In The Park With George" and the newly adapted "Damn Yankees" at Reprise and countless benefits). Jason produced the films, "Agent Cody Banks" and its sequel as well as the TV special "Ultimate Trek." He has also authored the children's book, "Dad, Are You the Tooth Fairy?" He has won the title of Parlour Magician of the Year at the prestigious Magic Castle and he is a noted player in the celebrity poker circuit. Jason resides in L.A. with his wife Daena and their children, Gabriel and Noah.

"The Fantasticks" with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones, opened at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in New York's Greenwich Village on May 3, 1960, and went on to become the world's longest-running musical, running for nearly 42 years. In addition to an Obie Award and the 1992 Special Tony Award for "The Fantasticks," Jones and Schmidt are the recipients of the prestigious ASCAP-Richard Rogers Award for 1993. On February 1, 1999, they were inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway, and on May 3 that year, their "stars" were added to the Off-Broadway Walk of Fame outside the Lucille Lortel theatre.
The current revival of "The Fantasticks" opened August 23, 2006, at the Snapple Theatre Center, where it continues.
The show's original production ran off-Broadway ran for 17,162 performances. Schmidt and Jones' score boasts some of musical theater's most unforgettable standards, such as "Try to Remember," and "Soon It's Gonna Rain" which have attributed to the show's lasting endurance. Many productions have followed the original, including a current off-Broadway revival as well as television and film versions.

In 1964, "Fantasticks" producer Lore Noto broke an unwritten theatrical rule by allowing a still-running show to be broadcast on TV - the prestigious HallMark Hall of Fame, no less. The televised production featured among its stellar cast Bert Lahr and Stanley Holloway, and rather than damage the box office revenue at Sullivan Street Playhouse, the broadcast only increased the show's popularity. The film version, directed by Michael Ritchie and starring Joel Grey, Barnard Hughes, Jean Louisa Kelly, Joey McIntyre and Jonathon Morris was released in 1995.

"The Fantasticks" has played in every state, in more than 11,103 U.S. productions in over 2,000 cities and towns. It has played at the White House, the Ford Theatre, the Shawnee Mission in Kansas, Yellowstone National Park and in America's more exotic locales from Carefree, Arizona to Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. Internationally, more than 700 productions have been staged in 67 nations from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Scandinavia has seen more than 45 productions including at least one each year since 1962, when it won an award there as the year's Outstanding New Theatrical Piece. Japan, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Czechoslovakia, have all seen multiple productions as have such newsworthy locales as Kabul, Afghanistan and Teheran, Iran. Recently, "The Fantasticks" has also been seen in Dublin, Milan, Budapest, Zimbabwe, Bangkok, and Beijing.

"The Fantasticks" tells an allegorical story, loosely based on the play "The Romancers" ("Les Romanesques") by Edmond Rostand, concerning two fathers who put up a wall between their houses to ensure that their children fall in love, because they know that children always do what their parents forbid. Elements of the play are ultimately drawn from the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, its story winding its way through Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as well as Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'Amore" and Rostand's play.

Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt wrote ""The Fantasticks" for a summer theatre production at Barnard College in 1959. Fellow University of Texas alum Word Baker had been offered a job directing three one-act plays at a summer theatre, which the actress Mildred Dunnock was producing at Barnard College. Baker wanted one of them to be a musical and he told his friends that if they could give him a one-act musical version of the Rostand play in three weeks, he would give them a production of it three weeks later. And that is what happened.

After years of struggling unsuccessfully with the Rostand material, the two writers threw out everything (except a song "Try to Remember") and, starting from scratch, completed the basis of what is now "The Fantasticks" in less than three weeks time. They even returned to the original title. The English version of the Rostand play, which they had used as a guide, was an obscure one called "The Fantasticks", written by a woman under the pseudonym George Fleming. It had been introduced to them by one of their college professors, B. Iden Payne, who had directed it in London in 1909 with Mrs. Patrick Campbell as "The Boy" in a breeches part.

Harvey Schmidt in particular, found himself drawn to this title. "We couldn't come up with a new title," he admits, "and we liked the way this one looked, with that "k" adding the extra kick."

When their one-act version was produced at Barnard, it attracted enough attention from the world of the professional theatre that Jones and Schmidt were soon placed in the position of having to choose one off-Broadway producer from a field of several viable candidates.
Their choice was Lore Noto who had first encountered fragments of Jones's script when director Word Baker used it in an acting class. Having heard the brief opening speeches Jones had written for The Boy and The Girl, Noto was drawn to Barnard, where he saw a very early dress rehearsal and determined to mount "The Fantasticks" for a commercial run.

It is to producer Lore Noto that Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt attribute much of the record-making long run of "The Fantasticks." "Lore believed in the show when nobody else did," says Schmidt. "He had total faith in it and it paid off."

Apart from launching the longest run in the history of the American Theatre, "The Fantasticks" marked the official New York start of that rich and diverse Jones and Schmidt partnership, a collaboration that until then had been limited to a handful of revue songs.

For Broadway, Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt have written "110 In the Shade" as well as" I Do! I Do!" For several years Jones and Schmidt worked privately at Portfolio, their theatre workshop, concentrating on small-scale musicals in new and often un-tried forms. The most notable of these efforts were "Celebration," which moved to Broadway, and "Philemon," which won an Outer Critics Circle Award.

Along the way they contributed incidental music and lyrics to the off-Broadway play, "Colette," written by Elinor Jones and starring Zoe Caldwell. Later, their full-scale musical based on the same subject toured the western states with Diana Rigg. And later still, it was produced in New York under the title "Colette Collage," where it was recorded by Varese Sarabande with Judy Blazer and Judy Kaye playing the younger and older Colette.
In the 1997-98 season, Jones and Schmidt appeared off-Broadway in "The Show Goes On" a new revue based on their theatre songs. Winning unanimous rave notices and hailed by the New York Times as "lighthearted, loving and sad, laced with nostalgia but also with laughter," the show extended its run several times and was subsequently released as a CD. 

Since its inception in 1997, Reprise Theatre Company has been a focus of the Los Angeles musical theatre community, producing productions of great American musicals, and a wide variety off concerts, staged-readings, special events and outreach programs. In May 2007, Jason Alexander became Artistic Director and he was joined by Susan Dietz, Producing Director.

Since its inaugural production of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "Promises, Promises," which starred Mr. Alexander, Reprise has brought to the stage vibrant productions from all eras of American musical theatre including the Gershwins' "Of Thee I Sing" and "Strike Up the Band," Cole Porter's "Anything Goes," and Rodgers and Hart's "The Boys from Syracuse" and "Babes in Arms," as well as Richard Rodgers' later "No Strings." The "Golden Era" has been well represented - Burton Lane and E.Y. Harburg with "Finian's Rainbow," Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe with "Brigadoon," Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green with "On the Town" and "Wonderful Town," Irving Berlin with "Call Me Madam," Robert Wright and George Forrest with "Kismet," both of the Richard Adler and Jerry Ross musicals "The Pajama Game" and "Damn Yankees," Johnny Mercer and Gene dePaul with "Li'l Abner," Jule Styne with "Bells are Ringing," and Frank Loesser with "The Most Happy Fella."

Musical theatre reached a new peak of popularity in the sixties, along with new creative talents, and Reprise has presented shows by many of them including Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick with "She Loves Me," Gerome Ragni, James Rado and Galt MacDermot's "Hair," Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone with "1776," Charles Adams and Lee Strouse with "Applause," Stephen Schwartz with "Pippin," Cy Coleman with "On the Twentieth Century" (libretto by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) and "City of Angels" (lyrics by David Zippel), Jerry Herman with "Mack and Mabel," and three Stephen Sondheim musicals - "Company," "Sweeney Todd," and "Sunday in the Park with George."

Many of the great stage performers working today, as well as those who make their residence in primarily in Los Angeles, have appeared in Reprise shows including Scott Bakula, Christine Baranski, Brent Barrett, Orson Bean, Jodi Benson, Stephen Bogardus, Dan Butler, Len Cariou, Carolee Carmello, Vicki Carr, Anthony Crivello, Jason Danielely, Lea DeLaria, Clevant Derricks, Manoel Feliciano, Rodney Gilfry, Kelsey Grammer, Harry Groener, Bob Gunton, Sam Harris, Gregory Harrison, Mimi Hines, Judy Kaye, Jane Krakowski, Marc Kudish, Judith Light, Rebecca Luker, Maureen McGovern, Joey McIntyre, Donna McKechnie, Andrea Marcovicci, Marin Mazzie, Karen Morrow, Burke Moses, Kelli O'Hara, Ken Page, Robert Picardo, David Hyde Pierce, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Roger Rees, Charles Nelson Reilly, Cathy Rigby, Douglas Sills, Rex Smith, Steven Weber, Marisa Jaret Winokur, Lillias White, Fred Willard, and Rachel York

The Freud Playhouse at UCLA conveniently located in Macgowan Hall

Dates: May 5 to May 17, 2009 Press Opening is May 6

Tuesdays through Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2:00pm & 8:00pm,
Sundays at 2:00 pm & 7:00 pm

Tickets: UCLA Central Ticket Office: 310/825-2101

May 5 (preview) $60.00; Opening night - $75.00;

Tuesday through Thursday Evenings - $70.00;

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, (all performances) - $75.00.

Student/Senior rush $20, 15 minutes before showtime

(subject to availability).
More Info: www.reprise.org

Photos by Photo by JohnGanun.com

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