EWU Theatre to hold auditions for The Fantasticks

By Shannon Bedell, Eagle Life Writer

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Ever pictured yourself as Liza Minnelli or maybe Bernadette Peters? Perhaps you know that someday your name will be seen in lights. Your big break might come sooner than you thought.

The talent of EWU can come try out for “The Fantasticks” on Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. in the EWU Theatre.

“The Fantasticks” was written by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones in 1960s. The story has a loose base in “Romeo and Juliet” and was originally written for a college production. Before premiering in New York off Broadway, Schmidt and Jones were told they had three weeks to do a complete rewrite of the original story before it would be produced.

The resulting musical went on to be the world’s longest running musical receiving numerous awards over its 52 years in production. The story engages audiences through its twist on the tale of love between the boy and girl next door. In an attempt to bring the two together, their fathers concoct a fake kidnapping that might just backfire on the both of them.

The production will be directed by first timer and EWU graduate Buddy Todd. Todd’s EWU credentials include choreographing “Ruthless” in 2011 and “Romeo and Juliet” and 2010. Todd graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Theatre in 2009.

The production’s music will be headed by Carolyn Jess. Jess brings experience as the musical director of previous EWU productions such as last spring’s “Batboy” and 2011’s “Ruthless.” Jess has helped with over 86 productions in her career.

While taking on an iconic production like this may be daunting to some, Todd explains the musical has always had a simplistic sense.

“The set of the off-Broadway production include a simple stage, four posts and a chest of props. The concept of a simplistic backdrop will allow the audience to have more focus on the characters and music,” said Todd.

Todd goes on to say, “The music has romanticism to it through its simplicity. The presentational manner is very vaudevillian. The setting will be completed with larger than life characters, magicians with sexy assistants and absinthe.” Vaudeville refers to a theatrical genre started in the early 1880s in which separate unrelated acts, such as musicians, dancers and comedians were grouped together.

Those wishing to try out for the production should be prepared with 16 bars of classical theater music. Jess explains how the music plays part in the production saying, “The music is the center of the story and really tells the story.”

“The show also offers non-singing roles but everyone should have a sense of time and rhythm,” said Todd.

The show requires performers ready to take on larger than life characters who can transport the audience through the story. Todd looks forward to the collaboration that attracts many different performers to the theater and said, “I am open to non-traditional casting in some of the roles.”

Jess elaborating on the casting possibilities and said, “The lead female role is usually a strong soprano but one of the great things about the story is that many parts are interchangeable.”

Jess is excited about the possibilities “The Fantasticks” will bring for those who audition and said, “I hope it will showcase the flexibility of the talent in the EWU Theatre community and that the audience will be blown away by what the production has to offer.”

Todd elaborated and said, “I hope my performers have the same conviction I feel so that the audience can be transported and moved by the silliness, romance and terror that ‘The Fantasticks’ has to offer.”

With the experience between Todd and Jess and the story of “The Fantasticks” audiences and cast members are sure to be drawn in.

For further information on auditions for and other EWU Theatre events visit the EWU Theatre Facebook page.

“The Fantasticks” opens Nov. 15 and will be showing through Nov. 23.

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