The Fantasticks is a classic tale of reverse psychology gone awry when two neighboring dads try to interfere in their children's love lives.
The musical continues to be a favorite with audiences even after it played for 42 years off-Broadway, making it the world's longest-running musical.
Hanford High will tackle the beloved production for the third time when The Fantasticks opens April 29 in the school's auditorium in Richland.
The show is co-directed by Peggy Painter and Deb Donahoe, both of whom shared the director's role during the past two productions of The Fantasticks at Hanford High.
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"When we first announced that we were doing this show again, we had numerous students who were really excited about it," Donahoe said. "For one reason, Santino Fontana, a Richland High grad, starred in the 2006 revival of the show in New York City and we used the CD of his performance for our practice rehearsals."
The story is about Luisa and Matt, whose fathers want them to marry but know if they encourage it the kids will do the opposite. So, the dads decide to pretend to feud hoping their children will fall in love to spite their parents.
The dads even go as far as hiring actors to stage a mock abduction of Luisa that sends Matt on a heroic quest to save her. But when the kids find out about the fathers' deception, they go their separate ways only to eventually find their way back into each other's arms.
El Gallo, portrayed by Robin Coppock, 17, narrates the story.
"The character of El Gallo is rather dark," he said. "He manipulates others, giving them what they think they want. He knows he must hurt the lovers before they can grow to achieve maturity."
Brenna Feeney, 17, said she felt an instant connection to Luisa.
"Luisa is a hopeless romantic," she said. "She is immature, innocent and a little bratty, but her strong spirit and tender heart shine through. I feel an immense connection with Luisa and couldn't be having more fun with this role."
Co-director Painter believes The Fantasticks invites the audience into the story with a subtly that touches all ages.
"If you are young, you identify with Matt and Luisa," she said. "If you are a little bit older, you see how fragile first love can be, how young innocent love may not last."
Donahoe suggests that The Fantasticks also relates to graduating seniors and uses a quote from the story to explain:
"For those of us who are older, we know that 'without a hurt the heart is hollow.' But we want to protect our children from that hurt ... by letting them go to make their own experiences."
Showtime is 7:30 p.m. April 29-30 and May 6-7. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors and are available at the Hanford High School office or at the door.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; email@example.com