The Crighton Players Present THE FANTASTICKS, Now thru 4/20

By Brandi D Baldwin

The Players Theatre Company's (aka The Crighton Players) next show of the 2012-13 season is the much beloved and cherished musical The Fantasticks. Written by Harvey Schmidt (music) and Tom Jones (book and lyrics), this musical allegory about the romance between a young couple and their meddling fathers has performed to sold-out houses worldwide. With such timeless, memorable musical numbers as "Try to Remember," "They Were You" and "Soon it's Gonna Rain."

It's a story of a young man, Matt, and the girl next door, Louisa, whose fathers have built a wall to keep them apart. The youngsters nevertheless secretly fall in love. Their unknowing fathers, Hucklebee and Bellomy, meanwhile, connive to bring their children together through artifice to perpetuate a marriage between the two families.

Enter El Gallo, a dashing individual who agrees to help the fathers by staging an abduction to bring the lovers together. He sets the imagined scene and, in due time, progresses to the role of professional abductor, who then pretends to fall, letting Matt think he is a hero when he rescues Louisa from a band of villains. The night is full of moonlight and romance.

The sun comes up and the day brings an end to dreams. The lovers must be taught to face reality. The dashing vagabond, El Gallo, who was their guide to romance and illusion, becomes their instructor in disillusionment. It is only when he has shown Matt the harshness of the world that looks so filled with promise of bright adventure, and has let Louisa see that love can be false, that they come to understand each other.

"This is the third production of The Fantasticks I have been involved with and the first time to direct and act in the same production," states Board President Jeffrey Baldwin. "Why direct and act in the same show? The character of El Gallo is the Narrator of the story; he sets the scenes and creates the pictures that tell the love story of Matt and Louisa. He is the ringleader, the captain, the director of everything that happens on the stage and off the stage. Everything I love to do as a director El Gallo does onstage. Everything I love doing as an actor, El Gallo gets to do onstage. Everything I love about the theatre is contained in this show. Seems a logical decision to me, but then again I've always enjoyed a challenge."

The Fantasticks is the world's longest running show still in its original theater, the world's longest running musical and the longest running show in American Theater history. 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.

Additionally,The Fantasticks is the most frequently-produced musical in the world 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. These include including Canada (200+), Germany and Australia (approx. 50 each). 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 cast is simple, consisting of some familiar Player's and some new faces. The Narrator, El Gallo is played by, director Jeffrey L Baldwin. The Boy, Matt is being played by James Hunter McMahon and the Girl, Louisa by Katja Yanko. The roles of the Fathers are portrayed by Dale Graham (Hucklebee, Matt's father) and Chris Elliff (Bellomy, Louisa's father). Travis Bryant, who is directing the next show if the season, Grease, is cast as Henry, the Old Actor. Mortimer, also known as The Man Who Dies, is Henry's companion and portrayed by Rick Sellers. Rounding out the cast are The Mutes, in this case three lovely ladies, Alexandra Casey, Angelie De Los Santos and Nellie Yost.

A host of now well-known stars have played these characters in different productions, including Jerry Orbach, F. Murray Abraham, David Canary, Ricardo Montalban, Elliott Gould, Liza Minnelli, Glenn Close, Richard Chamberlain, John Carradine and Ed Ames.

Come and see The Fantasticks, a timeless tale, -- full of magic and moonlight - about a young boy and girl who fall madly in love, but soon grow restless and disillusioned. Matt and Luisa are in love and find their relationship challenged by their intruding fathers and a bandit narrator known as El Gallo. This tender coming-of-age story with beautiful music and a dose of nostalgia is a guaranteed treat for grandparents and grandchildren alike.

The Fantasticks begins performances at the Owen Theatre with opening night tonight, March 29th and runs through Saturday, April 20th. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays, April 7th and 14th at 2pm. Get your tickets now. To reserve your seat, call 936-539-4090 or purchase on-line at www.owentheatre.com.



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