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May 19, 2013

Cresson Lake Playhouse to stage ‘The Fantasticks’

— This musical has been on Broadway for 54 years.

“The Fantasticks” will be presented Thursday through June 2 at Cresson Lake Playhouse, 279 Shapiro Road, Loretto.

Curtain times will be 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.

“It’s incredible it’s been on Broadway for so long,” said Stephen M. Guice of Altoona, who is making his directorial debut with the play. “This is a great show. It’s 54 years old.”

“The Fantasticks” is a 1960 musical with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones.

The show’s most well-known song is “Try To Remember.”

It tells the allegorical story of two neighboring fathers who trick their children into falling in love by pretending to feud.

The fathers hire traveling actors to stage a mock abduction of Luisa, so that Matt can save her, ending the supposed feud.

When they discover their fathers’ deception, they reject the arranged love match and separate.

After each gains disillusioning experiences of the real world through parallel fantasy sequences, they return to each other and renew their vows with more maturity.

“You can fall into the trap of having stagnant and old staging,” said Guice. “With most musicals at the time, writers tackled issues that were not openly discussed. You’re dealing with two teens who are falling in love, and there are veiled references to their wants and desires. The standard of the time was to use flowery language.”

While the dialogue and lyrics will be the same as they were when the play was first performed on Broadway, Guice plans to give it a modern spin by having a more direct approach when dealing with the characters.

Guice will go against the adage “That’s the way it’s always been done.”

Guice worked with some of his actors six to 10 years ago, and several are excited about his new approach.

“They understood what I was talking about right away,” he said. “They’ve all responded very well to it. The cast has been top notch, fantastic. I’ve been blessed with three leads who were gung ho from the start. They’re as good as professional actors I’ve worked with on stage. I think their friends in the audience will say they’ve never seen them do something like that.”

“The Fantasticks” cast will feature Jake Baskin of Altoona as El Gallo, the narrator; Jordan Miller and Megan Maracuarelle-Jones, both of Altoona, as the young lovers, Matt and Luisa.

The cast will be rounded out by Tony Malvoisin of Colver; Jonathan O’Harrow and George Baumer, both of Altoona; Toni Demi of Northern Cambria; Carley Ingold of Cresson; and Bre Corle of Altoona.

Music direction will be provided by Susan Brandt.

Guice knows the audience will be surprised because they will come with certain expectations because they have seen the play before.

“Because I’ve delved into it in a different way, the audience will say they didn’t realize a certain point about ‘The Fantasticks.’ ” Guice said. “They will find themselves very moved by the end because they went on a deeper journey with the cast.”

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