LORETTO - The longest-running musical worldwide - "The Fantasticks" - is making its return to Cresson Lake Playhouse.
The show, which recently celebrated 54 years running in New York City, begins May 23 and runs through June 1.
"It's an oldie, but it's a favorite. ... It's so beautiful," said Elaine Mastalski, Cresson Lake Playhouse executive director. "Many people have said to me, 'Oh, this is one of my favorite, favorite shows.' So we're hoping that they'll come back and revisit Cresson Lake."
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Luisa (Megan Marcaurelle-Jones) and Matt (Jordan Miller) think of a life together in “The Fantasticks.”
The playhouse has not done the show since 1976, she believed.
The two-act musical tells the story of Luisa, 16, and Matt, 20, whose fathers, having learned that the best way to get a child to do what you want is to tell them not to do it, pretend to feud in order to push the couple toward love and marriage, said area native Stephen Guice, the show's director. In order to end the fake feud, El Gallo, the narrator of the story, stages a fake abduction, giving Matt the opportunity to rescue Luisa. Act II takes a "dark turn," however.
Guice is making a re-visit of his own.
If you go
What: "The Fantasticks," presented by Cresson Lake Playhouse
Where: Cresson Lake Playhouse, 279 Shapiro Road, Loretto
When: 8 p.m. May 23-25; 2 p.m. May 26; 8 p.m. May 27-June 1
Tickets: adults, $17; students under 18, $10
On the Web: www.CressonLake.com
The actor, who trained at Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York City and performs in regional theaters around the United States, is back in town after spending the last few years living in New York City. This is the first full-musical production he has directed.
The musical is great for the unique space at Cresson Lake Playhouse where the stage is long and narrow and the audience sits on either side, he said.
"It's a smaller musical, it's a small cast, and I thought this is a show where they don't have to fight and try to make a big show fit into a small space," he said. "This is a nice, small, intimate space that this show can actually really fill. So when I saw they were doing it, I immediately applied to direct it."
The opportunity also gave him the chance to work with area people he had not worked with in awhile.
Doing so has been "lovely," he said, "and to meet new people who are fresh to the area theater scene and get to work with them has been really nice as well."
The show's music was written by Harvey Schmidt, a self-taught piano player , who could not read or write music, Guice said. When creating the show's music, several transcribers wrote down what they saw and heard while watching the artist's fingers and listening to him play.
"I think audiences really gravitate toward it because at the heart of it is incredible music," Guice said. "But it's a sort of jazz-inspired and infused music and the lyrics are great and the script is great. And people come because of the music, and there's something for everybody there."
Guice is pleased with the three actors performing the leads in the musical - Jacob Baskin as El Gallo, Jordan Miller as Matt and Megan Marcaurelle-Jones as Luisa.
"The actors that I was lucky enough to secure here are every bit as good as any New York City cast I've ever worked with or any regional," he said. "I was truly blessed to get my three leads. They are doing work that I don't think people will be expecting. I think they're going to be shocked."
Baskin, 25, of Altoona started acting in high school. He said the show he got to know now is "great," and he is "falling in love with it."
His character in "The Fantasticks" narrates the story, which is a technique used in earlier days of theater, he said.
Baskin likes that relationship with the audience.
"Yea, it's different because normally, when I went to Penn State Altoona and studied some theater there, we were taught not to address the audience at all because it's basically wrong. ... But addressing the audience is cool because then you can interact with them and they get into the story more, I think."
Miller, 18, also of Altoona said he got started acting in eighth-grade drama under the encouragement of drama teacher Jonathan Klingeman.
He is thrilled to get the chance to act in this show.
"It's just an awesome show. It just has a fantastic story," he said. "I saw it off-Broadway in February and I fell in love with it instantly and whenever I saw it I was like, 'Wow, I hope I get the chance to do this show some day.'"
Megan Marcaurelle-Jones, 25, of Altoona, described her character in an email as having "big dreams" and a "good heart."
"She is a really fun and challenging role to play and I am really enjoying her character," she said.
As for the show, it's "really quite special," she said. "The script is beautiful and poetic and the story is timeless. Steve has a really great vision for the show and I am so excited to see everything come together as a whole."
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.