Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Fantasticks is a 1960 musical that ran off-Broadway for over 40 years.  Known as the longest running musical in the world, it was revived after its closing only four years later in Times Square.  Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt allied together to create one of the biggest masterpieces of their time.  The musical tells an allegorical tale, based loosely on the play Les Romanesques (The Romancers) by Edmond Rostand, concerning two neighboring mothers (fathers in the original script) who build a wall between their houses and pretend to feud in order to get their children to fall in love.  They know what every parent should eventually realize: children always do what their parents forbid.

The thematic elements underlying the plot deal with such universal concepts as forgiveness, the complexities of love, dealing with pride, the effect of manipulation, acceptance and the mysteries of life.

The director, Dr. Ronda Winderl, has emphasized the Commedia Del'arte (Italian for comedy of art) side of this Fantasticks production. Commedia Del'arte is a professional form of theatre that began in Italy mid-16th century.  Commedia Del'arte consisted of a troupe of actors who lived and acted together and performed shows to make a living.   They wold move from place to place to entertain as many people as they could.  The audience would ultimately determine what the troupe ate that night, if they ate at all.  While usually unscripted the troupe would have a general plot layout that they could build around.  Although The Fantasticks is entirely scripted, this production makes use of the Commedia Del'arte theme and tone.