LAURINBURG — St. Andrews University’s theatre arts department will both suspend and embrace reality this weekend as it explores illusion in a production of “The Fantasticks.”
Billed as “the world’s longest-running musical,” “The Fantasticks” opened off-Broadway in 1960 and ran for 42 years. With its 2006 revival, the show has been performed more than 21,000 times.
With music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones, the show’s plot involves two fathers who contrive a feud to trick their contrarian children, Luisa and Matt, into falling in love. In the process, a group of touring actors is hired to abduct Luisa so that Matt may play the role of heroic rescuer.
“It’s a classic,” said SAU theatre instructor Cinny Beggs. “Some shows are very dated, and I didn’t want to introduce something that was dated. That’s what’s kind of fun about this one: it goes at any time, it spans any era, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t refer to anything that’s of its time period.”
A cast of eight students under Beggs’ direction began rehearsing in early March. Beggs, who came to SAU as theater instructor last year, was formerly the force behind Moore OnStage, which staged professional productions in Moore County until 2012.
Several of the student actors, including Lilli Whetzel and Argie Burnette in the lead roles of Luisa and Matt, will be performing live for the first time on Friday night.
“We’re getting into crunch time, so they will rehearse constantly,” Beggs quipped. “In their sleep.”
Among the show’s dozen musical numbers, “Try to Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” will strike a chord with lovers of musical theater, while those who are unfamiliar with the show are invited to experience it with fresh ears.
As it explores the concept of illusion: the separate illusions of the young lovers, their parents, and the actors, “The Fantaticks” employs theatrical devices from Greek drama, Italian commedia dell’arte, Oriental theatre and American musical comedy.
The musical is also about the mutual understanding between the actors and the audience of an imaginary world where the reality of the mind and and emotions may come to the forefront. The characters frequently break the fourth wall by treating the audience as a friend and confiding in it directly.
“The Fantasticks” will be performed in the Morris Morgan Theatre in St. Andrews University’s James L. Morgan Liberal Arts Building. Shows will be held on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., with a 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday.
Also among the cast are Denzel Leggett, Jeremiah Kelly, Isaac King, Joel Reyes, TiiMyr Roberts and Sibo Shezi.
The show’s crew also includes assistant to the director Rob Gauthier, vocal coaches Sean Moore and Ed Williams, accompanist Marijo Brown, and lights and sound by Blackwater Entertainment.
Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.