Director of The Fantasticks

Christin Bossenberry

Christin is thrilled to be making her directorial debut with St. Marys Community Players’ production of The Fantasticks. Christin has been a part of SMCP since being cast as the staunch Mrs. Barry in 2013’s Anne of Green Gables. Since then she has roller-skated, belly danced and trotted across this stage, called cues for beloved comedies from the coziness of the tech booth, and produced some of American Theatre’s most treasured works. She is also proud to sit as Vice President on the Board of Directors for SMCP. Selected credits include: Man of La Mancha (Moorish Girl/Choreographer), Leading Ladies (Audrey), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Narrator), Into The Woods (Jack’s Mom), Fame! (Lambchops), Glass Menagerie (Producer), All My Sons (Producer), You Can’t Take It With You (Stage Manager), Steel Magnolias (Stage Manager). A million and one thank-yous to the SMCP family for their encouragement and support – especially to this amazing cast and crew for all their hard work and patience.  As always, all my love to Cait xo

Director’s Notes – The Fantasticks

The Fantasticks is the world’s longest running musical. Let that just sink in a moment.

The Harvey Schmidt/Tom Jones penned musical premiered on May 3, 1960 at the Sullivan Street Playhouse, a small off-Broadway theatre located in New York’s Greenwich Village. It starred a then unknown, 24-year-old Jerry Orbach as El Gallo, Rita Gardner as Luisa, Kenneth Nelson as Matt, and Librettist Tom Jones as the Old Actor. It was a low budget production, with sets costing about $900 and costumes coming in under $550 – one of the show’s original designers, Ed Wittstein was even the set designer, costumer, props master and lighting designer! The show ran for 17,162 performances before it closed in 2002 due to rising rent costs in Manhattan. The show was remounted 4 years later, in 2006, at The Theatre Centre, where it ran for an additional 4,390 performances. And I know I said it before, but it warrants repeating – it is the world’s longest running musical. In fact, the only production anywhere in the world to run longer is the play The Mousetrap – the Agatha Christie murder mystery that has been continuously running in London’s West End since 1952.

So what’s the secret to it’s success?

Well, for starters, good source material always helps. The Fantasticks is based on Les Romanesques, the first play by French writer, Edmond Rostand (who would go on to write a little piece you may have heard of, called Cyrano de Bergerac). It’s a satirical romantic comedy that was written as a direct parody of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. And Schmidt/Jones stick to Rostand’s plot pretty faithfully – minus the addition of a few extra colourful characters.

The story is a simple one of star-crossed lovers and their (supposedly) feuding parents. Of mysterious bandits, duels, and secret meetings by a moonlit glen. It’s a familiar story, but it doesn’t feel stale here. The dialogue is quick, both in it’s tempo and it’s humour, with a poetic rhythm and rhyme that weaves itself through the story, so that even when there is no music being played, there is still a musicality to the scene.

Perhaps it’s the music that has kept the world coming back for more for almost six decades. With songs like “Soon It’s Gonna Rain”, “They Were You” and Try to Remember”, The Fantasticks has contributed some of musical theatre’s most endearing tunes. The music is both simple and complex, and perhaps that dichotomy is what makes it so intriguing. The orchestra is traditionally comprised of just a piano and a harp – bare bones by most Broadway standards – but it doesn’t feel small at all. Harvey Schmidt’s spectacular piano accompaniment is sweeping and complex, and the harp is so perfectly orchestrated that it not only adds the “magic” to the score, but it also acts as the sound effects track for the show.

And that really speaks to the essence of this show. There are no fancy backdrops, or smoke machines. No crazy costume changes, or lines of chorus girls. The Fantasticks doesn’t need any of that. The Fantasticks thrives on it’s simplicity. Eight characters, a piano score, and a healthy dose of confetti.

I hope you enjoy our production of The Fantasticks. If this is your first time seeing it, welcome. If you’re one of millions who have already fallen in love with it, I welcome you back. I hope our version of this beloved show warms your heart, makes you laugh, and helps your remember the magic of September.

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