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Acting Naturally

Richard's Writings > Acting Naturally > The Fantasticks

Synopsis of The Fantasticks

This was once the longest running show on Broadway, and had a street named after the show in Greenwich Village. A classic tale of love between a boy and a girl, orchestrated by their two fathers, with bandit, an indian, an old thespian and a mute to round out the cast. Terrific songs, minimal set, lots of laughs and action - a great show! But nothing ever goes without a hitch in the world of live theater...

Excerpt from The Fantasticks

We had the hardest rainfall of the year on Friday - roads were flooded, power-lines down, etc. Among the last minute panics: 8 pm comes and no piano player! She was caught in the bad weather and traffic conditions and arrived at 8:15. We began as soon as she shook out her umbrella. Also - no lights! The heavy rain was leaking into the theater and knocked out the stage lights. But Jon and the lighting technician worked around it and got them back on. But as of 8 pm - panic! Nonetheless, with the rain pounding loudly on the roof and all these things going wrong, we found the black humor in it all, laughed, and went on determined to do a great show regardless. And we did!

I went out with four cast members and their mates after the show and we closed the pub at 2 am. It was the first time since we began that we had a chance to socialize, compare notes, learn about each other, and it was wonderful fun. We were all so filled with energy we chattered like birds - we couldn't have gone to sleep if we had wanted to, anyway. We had a great time.

We also knew we could sleep in on Saturday morning. Finally! All that week we had rehearsed until midnight, and needed time to unwind before sleep could claim us, then up early the next morning and off to work. "Burning the candle at both ends," my mom calls it. It is called "Hell Week" in the theatre world. Yes, indeed.

Being in a play is in some ways almost like being obsessed. You find yourself humming the tunes day and night, even when you get sick of them - they have seeped into your blood and you can't stop. And you find yourself running lines or dance steps in your mind; and sometimes you say a line out-loud, or perform a few shuffle steps, and you don't even realize you are doing it until you notice some bystanders looking at you queerly. It is somewhat a relief to finally get the rehearsal work behind you and open yourself to the pleasure of actual performances.

There is a strange phenomenon I have noticed in every play: by Opening Night, you can't imagine anyone else playing each of the roles...


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