TCT show puts young love to the test

By M. SCOTT MORRIS / NEMS Daily Journal


The Lyric Theatre’s stage is silly with young love these days. Tupelo Community Theatre’s production of “The Fantasticks” tells the musical story of a boy and a girl who think they know everything there is to know about love.
“I think it touches that inner child place,” said Rick Brooks, who plays El Gallo. “It’s about that awakening of first love, and breaking the illusion of that and coming around to what real love is all about.”
Luisa and Matt live next door to each other, but they’re separated by a wall their fathers built. The young lovers are forced to sneak out of their houses and climb trees in order to spend a few stolen moments together.
That’s just as their fathers intended. If you want a kid to do something, say, “No.”
“The two fathers use reverse psychology by building the wall,” said Sonja Jenkins, director.
The dads hire a magician named El Gallo to pretend to kidnap Luisa, so Matt can save her and be the hero she’s always dreamed of marrying.
“Luisa is a young, very naive girl,” said Holly Harrington, who plays Luisa. “Her one desire in the world is to fall in love with a prince, a hero, a knight in shining armor.”
All of the plot points mentioned so far take place in the first act. In the second act, Luisa and Matt find all of their obstacles have vanished, so they manage to create some of their own troubles.
“It’s about reminding people what is truly to be treasured,” Brooks said.
Tom Jones provided the book and lyrics for “The Fantasticks,” and Harvey Schmidt wrote the music. Their collaboration has enjoyed monumental success. The show’s original off-Broadway production ran for a total of 42 years and 17,162 performances.
“It’s really a fable,” Jenkins said. “All of this is done with great music. The song most people will be familiar with is ‘Try to Remember.’ The other one is ‘Soon It’s Gonna Rain.’”
There’s an additional twist in “The Fantasticks” that affects the way the story and songs are presented.
The musical takes place on a minimalist set. In the beginning, the actors will come out and adjust their costumes in front of the audience. Throughout the show, characters will address the audience.
“You could call it a show within a show,” Jenkins said.
The wall built to separate the young lovers is played by Al Mallory. In the script, he’s known as The Mute, and the audience will see him moving props around, but you won’t hear him.
If it all sounds a little too crazy for you, try to have faith in the people who attended those 17,162 performances of “The Fantasticks” over 42 years. It’s a funny show that exaggerates reality just enough to make important truths clear.
“It invites us to think about what it means to come to terms with a real person,” Brooks said, “and to be grateful for having someone who loves you as you are.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@djournal.com.

At the Lyric
– What: Tupelo Community Theatre’s “The
Fantasticks”
– When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday
and 2 p.m. Saturday
– Where: The Lyric Theatre, Tupelo
– Tickets: $20/adults, $10/students
– Info: (662) 844-1935