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'The Fantasticks' starts run at Eleanor Dempsey Performing Arts Center

The Fantasticks blends elements of such plays as Romeo and Juliet to tell its story of two sets of parents’ silly scheming. 

Hat Trick Theatre

The Fantasticks blends elements of such plays as Romeo and Juliet to tell its story of two sets of parents’ silly scheming. 

What? What? You haven't ever seen the musical The Fantasticks?

Say, what planet have you been visiting, eh? Everyone — well, almost everyone — has endured, uh, enjoyed this 50-year-old show sometime, either at a community theater, a high school, or perhaps one of the 17,162 performances given off-Broadway in New York during its initial 42-year run from 1960-2002 or the additional ones in the revival that opened in June 2008 and is still going.

The Hat Trick Theatre is bringing its version of the venerable show to the Eleanor Dempsey Performing Arts Center weekends today through April 25, with a special "industry night" performance on April 19 for theater people who can't make a regular performance because they're on or behind a stage elsewhere.

Many people love the show at first sight; for others, it's an acquired taste; and for at least some, it's "what's the fuss?"

The story is a mix of Edmond Rostand's The Romancers, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Donizetti's The Elixir of Love, with all the feuding, trickery and close calls in those favorites.

In it, two neighbors want their kids to marry. Believing that children always do the opposite of what their parents want them to do, they pretend to be enemies.

It opens with the mysterious El Gallo (Craig Ruska) explaining what is about to happen, as he sings the show's most memorable tune, Try to Remember.

Young neighbors Matt (Thom McColgan) and Luisa (Careena Cornette) are in love, though their parents, Hucklebee (Eric Swearingen) and Bellomy (Elizabeth Hooper), appear to be sworn enemies. The parents have ordered their children not to speak to each other — even though, more than anything, they want their offspring to wed.

To ensure that their children get back and remain together, the parents cook up an elaborate plot to have Luisa kidnapped by a passing troupe of actors and then be dramatically rescued by Matt, who will become her hero.

The young lovers discover their parents' plot, break up, and go their separate ways. The parents are aghast. Soon, though, the young couple realize that the outside world isn't so hot, and the romance works itself out.

The original play helped launch the stage and screen careers of the late Jerry Orbach (Law and Order) and during its long run featured actors such as Liza Minnelli, F. Murray Abraham, Glenn Close, Kristin Chenoweth and Bert Convy. It has been produced more than 11,000 times in several languages all over the world and has been made into a movie for TV and the big screen.

if you go

'The Fantasticks,' a musical

Where: Eleanor Dempsey Performing Arts Center, 13651 Hays Road, Hudson (campus of Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School)

When: Weekends today through April 25. Shows are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. A special "industry night" performance will be given at 8 p.m. April 19 for performing and visual artists and students.

Tickets: $15 for reserved seating, $9 for general seating.

Call (727) 857-2604, e-mail or visit

'The Fantasticks' starts run at Eleanor Dempsey Performing Arts Center 04/08/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 8, 2010 2:25pm]
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