Avondale High School Theatre Company Presents The Fantasticks

The Avondale Theatre Company, Avondale High School’s award-winning drama troupe, is set to open its 2016-2017 theater season with a unique and updated staging of one of the greatest American musicals of all time, The Fantasticks for three performances, November 3, 4, and 5 at 7:35 p.m. at the Avondale Performing Arts Centre in Auburn Hills.

Written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, The Fantasticks, spins a musical trip into wonder and tells the tale of a boy, a girl, two sets of parents and a wall. This classic musical in its initial New York life, ran for over 42 years off-Broadway before moving uptown where it ran for another eight years, making it the longest running musical in theatre history.

Members of the Avondale High School Theatre Company starring in The Fantasticks

Members of the Avondale High School Theatre Company starring in The Fantasticks

It’s an entertaining, uplifting and insightful musical,” said Edmond Guay, Avondale teacher and Avondale Theatre Company (ATC) director who is beginning his 30th and final year with the school and company, “containing some of the theater’s most beautiful music and definitely one of the greatest stories.” Guay added that the ATC will adapt the original staging in order to involve all of the very large number of students who are part of this year’s company. “With over 90 students involved in what originally was envisioned by the authors as an extremely simple show, the ATC is putting its unique twist on it, bringing the show into the 21st century, but hoping not to lose the essence of the story’s beautiful message.”

The Fantasticks is the opening show of the ATC’s “Throwback to the Future” season which has a slate of productions looking back at past company productions and styles in order to give current company members exposure to the group’s history, and also a chance to create a solid legacy for the future.

 “The first time we did the show,” Guay explains, “was in 1989 and it was one of the most artistically successful adventures we’d ever done. In fact, it won the annual theater festival state championship that year – the school’s first – so I’m happy that our student board (Antonio Vettraino, Meghan Gwilt, Josh Miller, Lila Letica, and Annie Youngs) chose the show for this year’s troupe.”

Senior Antonio Vettraino heads the cast as El Gallo, the narrator and swashbuckling bandit, and also serves as the production’s musical director. Juniors Daniel Barr and Rachel Jones play Matt and Luisa, the love struck youth who pine for adventure. In the roles of the parents, hiding their friendship and their schemes from their kids, are senior Jarrett Buikema and juniors Annie Youngs, Nick Christy, and Chloe Stark. Junior Noah Swart makes his stage debut as Henry, the old actor, who joins in the fray with sophomore Bella Javier playing his death-scene-obsessed sidekick Mortimer, and doubling as the show’s assistant music director. Rounding out the cast are senior Meghan Gwilt, her freshman brother Gordy Gwilt, and juniors Tess Chargo and Elana Blatt in their Avondale debuts as the mutes who serve as silent puppet masters throughout the show, guiding the action. Meghan Gwilt also serves as the production’s student director.

Not to be outdone by their onstage counterparts, the backstage crew, which numbers nearly 70, has the creative and challenging task of converting a simple show originally conceived as a small studio production, into a full-stage adventure complete with set pieces that move by themselves, gardens that grow out of the floor, rain that glows in the dark, and flying backdrops that track across the stage like magic. Lila Letica (state manager) and Lauren McGhee (producer) lead the charge with Josh Miller (lights), Elena Semones (costumes), Sonja Wagner (props), Nick Roussey (sound), Brooklynn Allen (assistant stage manager), Ethan Sangalang (sets), and Sophia Conant (scenic painting) leading backstage crews.

Parents Julie Semones and Matt Bramble along with ATC alumni Nick Matejzel and Alaina Vettraino assist Guay with the production as mentors who help oversee the scene shop, box office, and rehearsal areas.

The Fantasticks kicks off the season with three performances, November 3, 4, and 5 at 7:35 p.m. at the Avondale Performing Arts Centre inside Avondale High School (2800 Waukegan Street, Auburn Hills). ATC will continue the season with January and February performances of Silent Laughter, a live-action spoof of a silent movie complete with the slapstick humor and sight gags that made Hollywood famous a century ago. In April and May the group will bring Seussical, the Musical, a mashup of Dr. Seuss greatest tales to the stage and in July, the ATC will end the season with a special performance of Children of Eden featuring past, present and future ATC students.


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