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UW Production of ‘The Fantasticks’ Coming to Casper June 18

June 12, 2017
man and woman sitting on stage floor, leaning against a box
UW Department of Theatre and Dance students Hannah Kipp and Andrew Thornton rehearse a scene from the musical “The Fantasticks.” The UW production will be staged Sunday, June 18, at 4 p.m. at Casper’s Stage III. (Donald P. Turner Photo)

The world’s longest-running musical, billed as “the perfect musical” by The Wall Street Journal, will be staged Sunday, June 18, in Casper.

Presented by the University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance, “The Fantasticks,” a family-friendly, funny and romantic musical about a boy, a girl, two meddling parents and a wall, will be performed at Stage III at 4 p.m. The UW production is free and open to the public.

Directed by UW Assistant Professor Kevin Inouye, “The Fantasticks” production is on a tour to four different Wyoming communities from June 18-21, and is sponsored by the UW Department of Theatre and Dance, in conjunction with UW Fine Arts Outreach. The play is part of UW’s 64th annual Snowy Range Summer Theatre season; the production is being staged June 15-17 and June 23-24 at UW’s Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts.

“The Fantasticks” has enchanted audiences all over the world since Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency. Each generation, from bobby-soxers to flower children to Gen Xers to cyberkids, has embraced its universality.

“‘The Fanstasticks’ is a charming and deceptively simple little story,” Inouye says. “It’s innocent yet wise, honest yet steeped in theatrical pretense, and, for many of us, it reminds us of earlier times in our lives.”

“The Fantasticks” began as a summer theater production at Barnard College by Tom Jones (book/lyrics) and Harvey Schmidt (music). The production opened off-Broadway, opening at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in May 1960, and went on to become the longest-running production in the history of the American stage, and one of the most frequently produced musicals in the world.

The story begins when the narrator, El Gallo, asks audience members to use their imagination and follow him into a world of moonlight and magic, where a starry-eyed boy and the girl next door fall in love, grow apart and, finally, find their way back to each other after realizing the truth in El Gallo’s words that “without a hurt, the heart is hollow.”

The famous score, which includes the classic songs “Try to Remember,” “They Were You” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” is as timeless as the story itself.

A host of well-known actors have played in different productions of the show, including Jerry Orbach, F. Murray Abraham, David Canary, Ricardo Montalban, Elliott Gould, Liza Minnelli, Glenn Close, Richard Chamberlain, John Carradine and Ed Ames.

During its original run, “The Fantasticks” logged a record-breaking 17,162 performances, before closing in 2002. A revival opened in 2006 at The Theater Center in New York City, directed by Tom Jones; the beloved musical has recently reached an unsurpassed 21,000 performances.

“This was one of the first shows I did as an actor in high school, and it’s been a pleasure to return to it now with my first time directing a musical, surrounded by our eminently capable collaborators and cast,” Inouye says. “Pack your imagination and join us on a journey through youth, love and wisdom through the power of pure theater.”

The 2017 Snowy Range Summer Theatre production of “The Fantasticks” features actors Justen Glover, Hannah Kipp, Andrew Thornton, Sean Stone, Brikai Cordova, Dustin Petrillo and Daniel Daigle, with musical direction by Sean Stone. The musical will be accompanied by pianist Cheng Weng.

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