News Column

'The Fantasticks' shines a spotlight on love

July 18, 2013

YellowBrix

July 18--"THE FANTASTICKS" is set for 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and July 25, 7:30 p.m. July 26-27, and 2 p.m. July 28 at the Metropolitan Theatre. For tickets, gift certificates and season subscriptions, call 304-291-4122 or 1-877-999-WVPT (9878) or visit wvpublictheatre.org.

West Virginia Public Theatre will explore the nature of love with its next summer season performance, "The Fantasticks," said Lee Blair, who will play Huckabee in the famous musical.

" 'Love' is wonderful, but so different from 'life,' " Blair said. "You have to accept that love isn't an easy road. To me, 'The Fantasticks' is a story of how our dreams inspire us, lead us and deceive us but with the reality of life, our dreams can come true, just not as we expect."

The story, which is about two fathers who fake a feud in order to urge their children to fall in love, but which backfires when the children find out the truth, will be performed Wednesday-July 28 at the Metropolitan Theatre. It is the third WVPT show of the season.

"Matt and Luisa discover the trickery, reject the marriage and go off on their own journeys to discover themselves," Blair said. "They find the world cruel and disappointing, i.e. real, and return home to find each other again, this time with more life experience and maturity."

Audiences will hear familiar songs, such as "Try to Rememb e r, " "They Were You" and "Soon It's Gonna Rain."

This is Blair's first show with WVPT, even though he has lived in Morgantown for seven years working as an assistant professor of acting at the WVU School of Theatre and Dance.

"Colleagues and students have worked with WVPT in the past and had great experiences," Blair said. "While I direct musicals at WVU and with other theater companies, I was also looking to act in a musical since I haven't done that in about six years. I have worked with 'The Fantasticks' musical director, R.J. Nestor, in other productions, and he's accompanied me in some of my classes at WVU, so I look forward to working with him once again."

Blair plays Matt's father in the production, and David Tabish will take on the role of Luisa's father, Bellomy. Lizzy Miller and Zach Trimmer star as Luisa and Matt. And Jon Cannard, Sarah Powell, Cooper Grodin and Jeremy Crawford will also have roles in the musical.

Directing is Joe Deer, who is joining WVPT for his fourth season.

"Audiences in Morgantown are so supportive of this great theater, and I love working with the talented folks who make it happen," he said. "Ron Iannone and Michael Licata do a wonderful job of selecting a season and assembling talented actors and other creative talent."

Deer is a resident artist with The Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton, Ohio; a Distinguished Professor of Musical Theatre at Wright State University and is director of The Musical Theatre Initiative and head of the BFA Musical Theatre Program there.

He can't wait to direct "The Fantasticks" for the Morgantown crowd, as he's always been a big fan of the musical.

"I've certainly heard the music since I was a little boy. I'm also friendly with Tom Jones, who wrote the book and lyrics," he said. "I admire the show and his work in it enormously. It's such a perfectly written musical in every way. Each time I see it or get to work with students on scenes from it, I'm more and more aware of how great it is."

And it has an important, universal message, even though Deer said he is hesitant to impart his thoughts about the musical's meaning, as not to sway the audience in one direction or another.

"Infatuation is wonderful, attraction and desire are great. But, after that wears off, there must be something else," he said. " 'The Fantasticks' is the story of any of us who have been through that experience. It's a universal story and experience, no matter your background."

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(c)2013 The Dominion Post (Morgantown, W.Va.)

Visit The Dominion Post (Morgantown, W.Va.) at www.dominionpost.com

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