‘Try to Remember…’

Posted 7/28/09

“Try to Remember….” El Gallo’s first song in “The Fantasticks” has become part of our national cultural fabric, but do readers remember …

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‘Try to Remember…’


“Try to Remember….” El Gallo’s first song in “The Fantasticks” has become part of our national cultural fabric, but do readers remember the charming and poetic small scale musical by Tom Jones (book and lyrics) and Harvey Schmidt (music)? When it was introduced off-Broadway in 1960, it began a run of 42 years, until 2002 (17,162 performances! Many of our nationally famous stage and screen actors have played a role in it at some time). It’s time to rediscover.

A revival is now running in New York and it opens Aug. 8 at Littleton Town Hall, presented by Littleton’s Main Street Players and Ovation Players, who have collaborated on a summer musical in recent years, but elsewhere, at Lakewood Cultural Center.

Town Hall produced it in 1996, and performed in a tent at the newly-opened Hudson Gardens, where the “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” song seemed to produce rain pitter-pattering on the canvas on many nights.

Veteran actor/director Pamela Clifton brings her sense of comedy and drama to the project, directing a cast that includes UNC music major Adam Luhrs as young lover Matt and busy young singer Ashlie Harris as Luisa, the girl-next-door object of his affections. The two are in love, while their fathers are feuding — or at least they give that impression, shades of “Romeo and Juliet.”

Clifton is children’s theater coordinator at Town Hall, as well as production manager and is also performing in the long-running, comedic “That Woman Show” at Avenue Theater. She directed “Eleemosynary”for Main Street Player, winning a berth at the national community theater competition recently.

Pianist/teacher Midge Moyer is music director and harpist Tessa Nelson, a student at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryl, will accompany the performance.

John MacDonald is father Bellamy and Russell Smith is the neighboring father, Huckabee. The scheming pair really wants their offspring to end up together. Their theory is that by saying “no,” they will drive the rebellious teens together. “Never Say No.” Further thoughts on rearing children come in the funny duet “Plant a Radish.”

Mark Branche , whose stage presence speaks of his Broadway experience, plays the mysterious, magical El Gallo, who manipulates the players, narrates and drives the story throughout. His old actor sidekicks are Henry (Daymon Callo, who recently appeared in Town Hall’s “Gypsy”) and Mortimer (Bob Leggett, a familiar face for 30 years at Town Hall, with Spotlight Theatre and more) and the Mute (Thairone Vigil-Medina).

El Gallo sells the fathers on a plot to kidnap Luisa, thereby sharpening Matt’s interest in her and a choreographed scene follows Matt and Luisa’s duet, “Soon It’s Gonna Rain.”

Act II begins with El Gallo changing the moon for the sun, lending a harsher light to the scene and to character’s emotions. He then convinces Matt he should leave and see the world, singing “I Can See It” with the young man. He then takes Luisa to see the world at her request, “Round and Round” and she sees Matt being mistreated in various locales by “friendly natives—” a perspective that changes to “charming” with a magical Venetian carnival masque.

Of course, things work out happily before the final curtain!

This production is part of Western Welcome Week this year, a welcome addition.

If you go:

Local theater groups Ovation Players and Main Street Players will present America’s longest-running musical, “The Fantasticks.” at 7:30 p.m Aug. 8, 9, 10,14,15, 16, plus 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16 at Town Hall Arts Center, 2450 W. Main St., Downtown Littleton. Pamela Clifton directs. www.ovationplayers.com, 303-355-2177, tickets@ovationplayers.com (the most convenient route). Tickets: $16, $22. (Monday, Aug. 10 is Industry Night, $10).


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