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The Fantasticks



 
Trivia question: What musical is the longest running show ever? Why, of course, the answer is The Fantasticks! The original 1960 off-Broadway production ran a total of 42 years, 17,162 performances! The book and lyrics were written by Tom Jones, the music by Harvey Schmidt. New productions are still enjoyed by audiences today.

A charming production of The Fantasticks is being presented at The Pasadena Playhouse with a wonderful diversified cast under the direction of Seema Sueko. The show is usually performed on a small stage with few props, so being held at The Pasadena Playhouse made for a more lavish production which takes place now and is set in an old abandoned dilapidated theater in Southern California that has been closed since 1969 (well designed by David F. Weiner).

The play is somewhat based on a play, The Romancers (Les Romanesques), by Edmond Rostand. It involves two friendly neighbors, Bellamy (Regi Davis) who has a lovely young daughter Luisa (Ashley Park), and Hucklebee (Gedde Watanabe) who has a son Matt (Conor Guzman). The two friends connive to trick their children into falling in love.

Bellamy and Hucklebee pretend they are feuding with each other and build a wall between their side-by-side properties to entice Luisa and Matt to fall in love. Then they hire some actors, Henry (vey comical Hal Linden) and his sidekick Mortimer (equally funny Amir Talai), led by El Gallo (Phillip Anthony-Rodriguez), to perform a mock abduction of Luisa in order that Matt can become a hero by saving her. Thus the deceptive duel ends, the wall is torn down, and all seems as planned. But is it?

It isn’t long before the lovers become bored, no longer content, and begin to argue. This brings them to a decision to separate in order to seek experiences in the outside world. However what they experience is not what they expected and they return home more mature, more appreciative, and content with their lives.

The Fantasticks features lovely music by Jones and Schmidt accompanied by musical director/pianist David O and harpist Liesl Erman. However, just one number from the production is well-known. Try to Remember is, undoubtedly, the only song that is familiar to audiences.
The Fantasticks is playing at The Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. Performances are Wednesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 4 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM through Oct. 2. For tickets, call (626) 356-7529, or go online at wwwpasadenaplayhouse.org.