Last Friday, I had the chance to head south to LSUA to watch The Fantasticks presented by Empty Space Players and directed by Robert Harper. A staple in the genre of musical theatre, The Fantasticks opened off-Broadway in 1960 and continued to run for 42 years until 2002. Its book and lyrics are by Tom Jones and its music by Harvey Schmidt. This show has yielded such well-known songs as “Try to Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain.”
StageCentral already has a terrific blog about Empty Space Players’ production of The Fantasticks, but – as blogger for MusicCentral – I would like to add some thoughts of my own concerning the musical aspects of this show.
One thing that I noticed from the very beginning is that the piano accompanist – in this production Tamera Zona – plays a prominent role of her own, to the point where she herself becomes a character in the drama. When characters remark on the Spanish flair of El Gallo’s name, the piano replies with Spanish-sounding music, which in my opinion sounded almost Middle Eastern as if from southern Spain.
The sung melodies were catchy and the lyrics witty. The humor of the lyrics was very intelligent from the character named The Actor’s half-remembered lines of Shakespeare to the incessant puns put-forth by each character. The lyrics of the song “Plant A Radish” – which satirizes the frustrations parents face when raising children – was particularly amusing.
After seeing The Fantasticks Friday, I highly recommend you don’t miss the second weekend of this show’s run. Some of the material is probably not appropriate for children, but this certainly shouldn’t stop you from making the trip to LSUA this weekend. The Fantasticks will continue its run tonight through Saturday at 7:30 PM with a concluding matinee on Sunday at 2:30 PM.
There are more great music events to come in the weeks ahead! Next Saturday, November 30 and Sunday, December 1, Red River Dance Theatre Company will stage their annual production of The Nutcracker. And, on Monday, December 2, the Red River New Horizons Band will host An Evening of Comfort Food Music to support the Food Bank of Central Louisiana. Stay tuned! MusicCentral will be here to let you know what’s going on in the local music community.
About Jackson. Jackson Harmeyer is a recent graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College – Louisiana’s designated honors college located on the campus of Northwestern State University. There, he studied music history, completing an undergraduate thesis entitled “Learning from the Past: The Influence of Johann Sebastian Bach upon the Soviet Composers.” Now living in Alexandria, he is one of the founding members of TicketCentral and will also be writing this season’s program notes for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra.