‘The Fantasticks’ makes its ‘Boro debut

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, April 25th, 2018 at 6:05 PM
‘The Fantasticks’ makes its ‘Boro debut by Livia Homerski
Photo: Livia Homerski

“The Fantasticks,” the musical written by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones in the 1950s, was brought to life in Diebold Performing Arts Center at Edinboro University this past weekend. The musical is based on a play called “The Romancers” (“Les Romanesques”) by French playwright Edmond Rostand and is a story of two fathers — also neighbors — who hatch false feuds in order to get their children to fall in love. 

The show began with the actors and actresses coming out of the curtains and putting on their signature clothing items: Hucklebee with his red striped shorts, Bellomy with his matching green striped shorts, Luisa with the special necklace of her mother’s, and Matt’s vest. A character called “The Mute” handed each of the characters their items. 

The character of The Mute (Macee Parker) didn’t have any lines, as the name would imply, but she served as an integral part of the show. She was the wall dividing the families, a protector, a stonemason, and an effects specialist — scattering confetti in the air during “Round and Round,” along with silver paper when it rained. 

Luisa (Mary Lindeman) was thoroughly emotive throughout the play, performing the part of a teenage girl gone insane. Her face scrunched often with emotions of bliss, naivety and anger, adding to the amusing and over-the-top nature of “The Fantasticks.” 

When asked how Lindeman got into her wide-eyed character, she said: “I just had to go back to my middle school days when I thought everything was awesome and I still liked books of romance and things like that. I just regressed from there.”  

Her equally lovesick counterpart of Matt (Joey Asti) was just about as washed up and naive as she was, complete with a hopeful eyebrow lift plastered across his forehead and cheerful singing. 

The fathers of the two formulated lovers were Hucklebee (Edinboro professor Bill Hunter) and Bellomy (Gregory Moore), and although they appeared to be opposites, it was clear they were both branches of the same kumquat tree. When asked how he got into character, Moore stated, “Well, I’m kind of a mom at home to begin with, so making myself a dad wasn’t that hard.”

The two patriarchs remained in sync throughout their musical numbers, especially during “Never Say No,” nodding to each other in rhythm and crossing their legs in perfect time. 

“I’ve listened to the soundtrack of ‘The Fantasticks’ since I was 18, and I’ve always loved that song,” said Hunter of the number.

El Gallo, (Gavin Dewey) the all-knowing and charming bandit, served as both the narrator of the show and antagonist to the two families. He broke the fourth wall often, even entering where the audience was seated and performing a monologue amongst the playgoers. 

“I just thought of a guy that tried to control everything. He knows what’s going to happen five steps in advance, so he wants to make sure everything goes to planned.” 

His assistants, the decrepit but bawdy duo of Morticia (Abigail Delk) and Henry (Ryan Beichner) also served as comical show stealers, emerging from a chest on stage-right and donning absurd, antiquated costumes. From Morticia’s old bird wheezing, to Henry’s tired monologues recalling the classical plays of Shakespeare, their performances are juxtaposed against the show’s dry humor, and the duo made their limited stage time seem expanded.

Diane Foust, the music director, played piano as the sole accompaniment to the vocals in the musical. Her playing truly pushed the music along, and she delivered a knockout performance, especially during songs “Round and Round” and “They Were You.” 

Hunter said about the music, “I always loved the music because it’s simple but moves the plot along very, very well.” 

“The Fantasticks,” was directed by Shaun Taylor and will have another run at 7:30 p.m. on April 26-28. There’s an additional showing at 2:30 p.m. on April 28.

 General admission is $10, while $5 for EU faculty, staff, non-EU students and senior citizens, and $3 for EU students.

“It’s an old show that was written in the ‘60s and is almost a little bit meta for the time I guess, but I think it’s different and people would be surprised by it,” said Dewey.

Livia Homerski is the arts editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com.

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