The Fantasticks was a workshop production by the entire Choraliers class. Everyone participated in it and it was another fun and exciting learning experience for us all. The cast was small, so the parts of the boy, Matt, and girl, Luisa, were double cast. John Lassen and John Stanewich shared the role of the boy, and Jane Graves and I shared the role of the girl.
One of my vivid memories is of Mr. Henderson getting so irritated with me because I wasn’t giving it my “all” when I rehearsed my songs. I was convinced that some of the songs were beyond my vocal range, and I held back when I reached the higher notes. He kept telling me to just go for it; make a mistake; let my voice crack, if necessary. But I couldn’t bring myself to do that. Out of frustration he actually threw his baton at me at one point. (I either ducked in time, or he purposely threw it so that it would miss me. I like to think it was the latter.) I was convinced. I think I gave it my all the next time around….and each time after that.
Dennis Wilkerson set up shop with us once again for The Fantasticks and was a major contributor to the success of the show. He directed staging; set up lighting; helped design the program; built sets and props.
The Cockney Indian (Mortimer), played by Mark Fazio, and The Old Actor (Henry), played by Ralph Beck, didn’t enter the play until the middle of the first act. Up until then they were stashed in a large trunk that Dennis built that was off to the side on stage left. This was their hiding place until their cue to emerge into the play…
The first time we rehearsed with the Henry and Mortimer tucked cozily in the trunk it came time for them to make their appearance. Mr. Henderson, who played El Gallo/the Narrator in our production, spoke his line that was the cue for Mortimer to begin pounding on his drum, the trunk lid to fly open, and both of them to appear: “Something will turn up. I can feel it in the air….” However, nothing happened. So he spoke the line again, a little louder this time. “Something will turn up. I can feel it in the air.” Still nothing…. Once more, with more volume and feeling, El Gallo spoke his line, “SOMETHING WILL TURN UP. I CAN FEEL IT IN THE AIR.” Nothing. Nada. No response.
Finally, both Mr. Henderson and Dennis walked over to the trunk and opened the lid…only to find both Henry and Mortimer passed out cold from lack of oxygen!
Needless to say, large holes were subsequently drilled into the back of the trunk.
The fathers, played by Jedd Bennett and David Jewkes were a huge hit. Their songs, Make Sure You Never Say No, and Plant a Radish, are full of wisdom and wit, and they made the most of them, to the audience’s delight.
Jedd and Dave liked to surprise us during rehearsals by adding, shall we say, ‘extraneous’ and unscripted motions to their songs during rehearsals, just to make us laugh…and boy, we did!
Jedd and Dave also teased me about having big feet. And somehow (I don’t remember how) I became known as a troll. Jedd wrote this sweet poem and handed it to me in an envelope one morning: Trolls are neat; Trudy is sweet; Too bad for her that she has such big feet.
Needless to say, I was deeply touched.
At one point in the play, the boy is heroically fighting off The Old Actor, the Cockney Indian, AND El Gallo, using a hand made and very basic wooden sword. In this particular performance the sword John was using actually broke and he found himself holding a mere nub of wood. Miraculously, he was STILL able to fight the three of them off and save the girl! What a guy! (There was quite a bit of extra laughter from the audience during that performance.)
Songs from our production of The Fantasticks: