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The Fantasticks brings Broadway to Grinnell

Fantastiks - Contributed
Photo courtesy of The Grinnell Herald-Register The cast of “The Fantasticks” poses in the Arts Center theater.

Keli Vitaioli

This fall the Grinnell Arts Center is returning to a classic with their fall musical, “The Fantasticks,” directed by Tom Lacina and Milton Severe ‘87, Director of Exhibition Design at Faulconer Gallery. After 42 years off Broadway, “The Fantasticks” is the world’s longest-running musical—ironically the original cast only anticipated running for one season. The show opens this evening, Nov. 6, and will run this weekend and next, closing on Nov. 15.

With a cast full of Grinnell faculty and students, it is hard not to see a familiar face on the stage. Severe is a co-director and actor, Lily Hamilton ’19 and Erik Jarvis ’12 play the lovers, Professors Marc Chamberland, Math, Mark Montgomery, Economics and Sigmund Barber, German, are all acting in the show. Writing Laboratory Assistant Janet Carl is working backstage as the stage manager.

“The people of Grinnell are really supportive—it’s an amazing community,” Severe said. “It’s the most fun place to do anything because everybody loves you no matter what.”

Drawing from the community of professional and amateur performers, the show brings together many talented individuals to show off their abilities.

“The voices in this show are really, really good, so getting to listen to them sing beautiful songs every night is pretty fun,” Carl said.

The musical centers on a concocted feud between two neighboring fathers, which they use to bring their two children together to fall in love. With the help of a mischievous narrator they succeed, but it all falls apart when their scheming is revealed. Themes of young love, awakening and growth are all portrayed.

Performed in the Loft Theatre, the show is set in a smaller venue. The space constraints are deliberate, as intended by the original writers and directors. A minimalist set is used to further engage the audience to use their imagination and be part of the show.

“The audience in a sense has to work harder and be imaginative. It requires work on the part of the audience to stay with the show and makes in more memorable,” Montgomery said. “It’s a testament to how theatre works. Even on a small scale with few props and very little set, it still works well enough to have been produced for decades.”

The show’s main goal is entertaining the audience. With lighter themes than the typically portrayed, the audience can expect a lot of laughs from this production.

“It is a simple story that can appeal to a broad audience,” Barber said. “There are some intricate parts that give you something to chew on, but at the same time even kids can enjoy the simplicity.”

Severe hopes people can use the show as an escape from their daily lives and into fantasy.

“First and foremost I just hope people enjoy it. I think people can relate to a lot of the humor,” Severe said. “It is a sweet story and above all I want to entertain people … and [for them] to walk away feeling good.”

Tickets can be purchased at, McNally’s, Brown’s Shoe Fit, the Grinnell Arts Center or at the door — adult tickets are $15 and student tickets are $5.


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