By BEN CHRISTENSEN
The lights dim, everyone is seated in quiet anticipation of the spectacle that will captivate and entertain hundreds over the next eight performances. In a flash of light, colors, and sounds memories will be made and an experience will be shared. Soon the illusion that is “The Fantasticks” will make its 2009 debut. This one-of-a-kind musical blends comedy, melodrama, romance and disturbing situations to take the audience on a journey into a world only one step away from reality. Amazing teams of people have come together to make this production all it can be. A production team has been working hard since the beginning of the semester to make sure props, costumes, lights and sound are all ready to go. Other areas include choreography, live music and, of course, the cast.
All of these areas have been spearheaded by Director and North Central Theater Professor, Wayne Matthews. Wayne directed Little Women during the spring semester of 2009 and is currently in his second year of teaching at North Central.
This is not the first time “The Fantasticks” has been seen at North Central.
In an old publication used for promotion of the 1997 production, Jeff Emmrich, a North Central Bible College Professor in the Drama department stated that,
“The Fantasticks is the longest-running musical in history. There have been more than 8,500 productions of this musical world wide. It is a parable about love. What makes it fun is the rare style in which it is told and the sweetness and dry wit of the songs. The Fantasticks has a captivating combination of wise wit and innocence. This solid family entertainment is filled with infectious humor and lilting tunes.”
The same can be said of the current production. The charm and dry wit has been reinvented by North Central in a production designed to make the audience laugh and think.
Wayne Matthews, the current director, had this to say,
“We want them [the audience] to feel the highs and lows of the characters circumstances. We want the audience to laugh and also feel the seriousness of life’s reality. I think we also want the audience to consider the difference between real and cardboard fantastical ideas about love and relationships. There have been many times in rehearsal that we have laughed together during a scene or a moment of spontaneous creativity. We have laughed at Henry and Mortimer during the dying scenes, we have been impressed and moved by the emotional moments between Luisa and Matt or when an actor has produced real tears onstage.”
Some changes that have occurred at North Central between the 2009 production and the version of “The Fantasticks” that was presented in 1997 include, North Central’s status from a college to a University, the addition of a chapel area that will be utilized for the production, and Wayne Matthews as director instead of auditioning cast member.
It is a proud thing to see “clearly superior” students in a musical whose name does the cast credit, “The Fantasticks”.