The Rock River Players present 'The Fantasticks'

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WILLIAMSVILLE — The Rock River Players present "The Fantasticks" by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones July 19 through 23 at the Williamsville Hall, Dover Road, Williamsville.

The Fantasticks tells an allegorical story, loosely based on the play The Romancers (Les Romanesques) by Edmond Rostand, concerning two neighboring parents who, by pretending to feud, trick their children, Luisa and Matt, into falling in love. The mothers — fathers in most productions — hire traveling actors to stage a mock abduction, so that Matt can heroically "save" Luisa, and end the feigned feud. When the children discover the deception, they reject the arranged love match and separate. Each then gains disillusioning experiences of the real world, seen in parallel fantasy sequences. They return to each other bruised but enlightened, and they renew their commitment with more maturity. The original off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks ran a total of 42 years making it the world's longest-running musical. A rich and nuanced script coupled with beautiful, dynamic, thoughtful and familiar songs as "Try to Remember" and "Soon It's Gonna Rain" help make this show so endearing. It has played throughout the U.S. and in at least 67 foreign countries.

The Rock River Players production features Stewart McDermet as the wise and winning El Gallo; Veronica Stevens as the uber-romantic Luisa and Heather Martell as her gardening fanatic of a mother, Bellamy; Adam Culver as the hero-wannabe Matt and Nora Gordon as his plant-pruning mother, Hucklebye. David Roberts and Miles Keefe are the classic clowns as aging actor has-beens, Henry and Mortimer, and Nastia Stevens is the mischievous mute. Annie Landenberger directs; Ken Olsson is music director; Sara Vitale is assistant director and Bonnie Cramp, production coordinator.

Landenberger says, "The Rock River Players end their second season with this quintessential, delightful, resonating, relevant show. Like shows the RRP have done in the past, it feels viscerally well-suited to the Hall — a site with charm, history and warmth. On another note, audiences should know that the RRP and the Williamsville Hall Committee have acquired 50 new padded chairs. Many of the traditional folding chairs will also have pads. Seating is unreserved; the house opens a half hour before curtain. If audiences are happy with the new seats, we'll gratefully accept donations to help cover their cost."

Performances are at the Williamsville Hall Wednesday and Thursday, July 19 and 20 at 7 p.m.; Friday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 22 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 23 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Group rates are available. For reservations call 802-348-7156, option 2 or write verbatimvt@gmail.com.

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