CTC opens Fall Season with “The Fantasticks!”

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

“The Fantasticks” celebrates it’s 50th year as the world’s longest running musical.      The Chattanooga Theatre Centre opens this Tony Award winning show this Friday, September 24th, 2010.

Here’s a synopsis of “The Fantasticks” from the Stage Agent website:

Two fathers decide that they want their children to fall in love. The girl, Luisa, is a daydreamer with an active imagination. The boy, Matt, is a romantic. The two fathers decide to instigate a mock feud amongst themselves in order to help the boy and girl fall in love. They figure that this feud will give them the excuse to say no to the relationship, which of course will simply encourage the children’s love even more. The fathers go as far as to hire El Gallo to stage a mock abduction of Luisa, in which Matt can become a hero and save her. After this act, Luisa and Matt fall deeply in love. Soon though, the children realize their parents staged the feud and their love fades away. Later, after both children experience a little life experience on their own and are hurt by it, they reunite once again with much less drama.

Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt

The above photo comes from an article entitled, “‘The Fantasticks’ at 50.”

The Chattanooga Theatre Centre writes about the Fall season opener:

The Fantasticks stars Jennelle Gilreath, who just concluded a successful run in the smash-hit comedy, The Producers at the CTC, as Luisa, the Girl and Matt Lynn, back on the CTC stage after a decade, is Matt, the Boy. Thomas Alford and Kyle Howard are the fathers of the Girl and the Boy, who create ingenious ways to keep them apart to ensure the two end up together. Ray Laliberte is Henry, the Old Actor. Stacy Helton is The Man Who Dies, Mortimer. Sandra Jennings is The Mute. Rob Inman, the narrator in last season’s Our Town at the CTC, again leads us through the romance as El Gallo, the Narrator.

Visitors to New York today can still see the show off-Broadway.

“I first saw The Fantasticks on a high school trip on New Year’s Eve, 1989,” said director Scott Dunlap. “It was off-Broadway in the Sullivan Street Playhouse where it was first staged. During that trip, we saw Phantom and Into the Woods, but the show that blew me away was The Fantasticks.”

While the other shows depended on stupendous sets and costuming, Scott said it was the story, the staging, and the songs that riveted his attention in The Fantasticks.

The musical is also a particular favorite of CTC board member Warren Barnett. Barnett & Company, of which Warren is President and founder, is the show’s co-producer.

“I first saw The Fantasticks in a production at UT Knoxville in the early 1970s,” he says. “I think what appeals to me about the play is the balance between lightness and comedy on one hand and the more substantial coming-of-age message which is almost universal.

“The play is almost simple in its setting and story,” adds Warren. “But simplicity in the right hands can be the ultimate sophistication.”

Scott agrees. “‘Simple’ doesn’t mean boring,” he said.

The music from The Fantasticks is far from boring as well. Hit songs include “Try to Remember”, “I Can See It”, and “They Were You”.

“The score is jazzy and is reminiscent of Vince Guaraldi (creator of the Charlie Brown theme song), so it’s instantly nostalgic,” Scott adds.

Mike Lees is music director and Lindsay Fussell is choreographer. Susan Longley is Stage Manager.

“A lot of people think they know this show, but they don’t,” says Scott. “This is the first time we’ve done it at the CTC, and I’m sure our audiences will love it as much as I do.”

Performances are September 24, 25, October 1, 2, 8 and 9 at 8:00; September 30 and October 7 at 7:30; and October 3 and 10 at 2:30. Tickets are $30 opening night and $10 to $25 for other performances. Parking is free for subscribers only; there is a $2 charge for parking for non-subscribers. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the box office at 267-8534.

Listen to the Story with actor, Jennelle Gilreath and director, Scott Dunlap:


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One Response to “CTC opens Fall Season with “The Fantasticks!””

  1. Noz Harrington Says:

    It’s so refreshing to see new faces on stage at the CTC.

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