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DAN'S PAPERS, February 8, 2008 Page 47

The Fantasticks at The Southampton Cultural Center In 1960 The Fantasticks was bleeding money in its third month off-Broadway. Pressure was rising in the Big Apple and an escape was necessary. Guild Hall invited the cast for a week of performances and the offer was enthusiastically accepted. Everyone expected the trip to the East End would be a perfected time for a little R&R. Actors brought bathing suits and tennis rackets with all intention of having some fun in the sun before their moment in the spotlight was over, but the weather was terrible and the cast was forced to stay indoors. The Guild Hall performances seemed as if they would be the swansong for the show, but something funny happened, something that could only happen in the Hamptons. In the audience sat some very influential theater figures. Noted stage and screen directors Jerome Robbins, and Elia Kazan both caught a performance and the word spread. The show at Guild Hall was a huge success. By the time the acting troupe returned to Manhattan’s Sullivan Street Playhouse, the box office was selling out shows left and right. It fact, the show was so successful that it ran for 42 years straight – an American theater record. Now, almost 50 years later, The Fantasticks has returned to the East End. The musical borrows from several traditional plays: Pyramus and Thisbe, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and L’elisir d’Amore; but The Fantasticks is mostly based on Edmond Rostand’s play Les Romanesques. The initial plot is clever and clearly tips its hat to Romeo and Juliet. Hucklebee and Bellomy are neighbors in a small town. They want their children, Matt and Luisa, to fall in love, but knowing that their children will do the opposite of what they are told, Hucklebee and Bellomy devise a plan. They create an artificial feud between the two families that will obviously drive the children closer together. It works and the two fall in love, but now the fathers must overcome their “hatred” for each other so their children can live happily ever after. Enter El Gallo, a scoundrel hired by the fathers to abduct Luisa, forcing Matt to come to her rescue and in doing so he will “win” Luisa’s father’s approval. The plan works and the two families are happy and joyful – at first. As with all things, be careful what you wish for. Instead of pretending to fight, the two fathers now begin to feud for real. What makes matters worse is that Matt and Luisa find approved love is a little less exciting than forbidden love and the young couple grows restless. Matt leaves Luisa for the adventures of the world and Luisa heads off with El Gallo. What happens next? You’ll just have to see for yourself. Much like dealing with Shakespeare, or with any

theater piece that has existed for a long enough, generational changes and needs must be met when addressing a performance. This is not to say The Fantasticks has been altered in its text or songs, but more with its tone. Under the direction of Amagansett-based Michael Disher, who has worked on-and-off in Hamptons theater for over 20 years, this interpretation of the show looks to present The Fantasticks with “a great amount of sincerity, a great amount of honesty and a great

amount of realism.” This performance will be the first of many at the newly renovated Southampton Cultural Center. The Center fills a void in the East End by seeking to develop opportunities for local artists. The cast, featuring 11 residents from Montauk to East Moriches to Greenport, have been given a wonderful chance to present one of America’s greatest loved musicals. Given the space at the SCC’s Levitas Center, The Fantasticks seems to be perfect fit for the Center’s first show. The musical accompaniment requires simply a piano and a harp, which in an acoustically superior room are simply beautiful. “Many people think The Fantasticks is an easy show. . . but it is probably one of the more difficult shows to accomplish,” Disher said in a recent interview. But with the cast assembled it seems like Disher and his crew have accomplished a great deal. – Christian McLean The show runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m, from February 8 – 24. Tickets: $18 general admission, $15 seniors/students. The Levitas Center for the Arts is located at The Southampton Cultural Center, 25 Pond Lane, Southampton. For tickets and formation please call (631) 287-4377. Where the Hamptons are only a click away

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Dan's Papers Feb. 8, 2008  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

Dan's Papers Feb. 8, 2008  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...