Two outstanding H-F stars featured in The Fantasticks

  Megan Murray
  David Boettcher

 

Megan Murray starred in three musicals at Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

David Boettcher was her teacher and theater director.

  Jonathan D.
  Mesisca

Now they’re teaming up for the Artists Walk Theatre presentation of “The Fantasticks,” the longest running musical on Broadway.

The show will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 and 27, and Sept. 9, 10, 16 and 17 with 2 p.m. shows Aug. 28, Sept. 11 and 18. All shows are at the Flossmoor Community House, 847 Hutchison Road.

  Don Tieri

Murray will captivate audiences with her beautiful soprano voice as soloist, team for several duets and appear in ensemble numbers for the musical she says is “fun and enduring. It’s got a great story. I remember how moved I was by it the first time I saw it.”

The daughter of Pat and Cindy Murray of Homewood now lives in Mt. Prospect where she teaches music and chorus at the junior high level. Scheduling will be a bit tough — the first production is also the first week of school — but Murray knows how to manage her time. This summer she was in an intensive program completing a master’s degree.

  Edward Voci

She also is the assistant director of the Grand Prairie Singers based in Park Forest.

“She sings like an angel,” said Megan Tipton, a member of the Artists Walk board of directors. “She’s going to be fabulous.”

After graduating from H-F in 2007, Murray teamed up with Boettcher for several local productions.  Now that nine years have passed, “I really enjoy working with him on a first-name basis.”

  Carlyse Owens

Murray stars as Louisa, a 16-year-old who falls for the neighbor boy. 

The plot is a parody of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” complete with a faux feud between parents, star-crossed lovers and complicated schemes.

Unlike the original, The Fantasticks is a delightful comedy with a much happier ending, according to Boettcher.

  David Besky

While in New York in January, Boettcher said he saw a performance of the play, and it reminded him of how wonderful it is.

“From moment one it really engages the audience and just invites the audience to just enjoy the experience,” he said.

The staging of the Artists Walk shows will enhance that engagement, too, he said.

  Juan Terrazas

Instead of being performed on the main stage, the crew will build a thrust stage on the floor level. That means the audience will be on three sides of the actors and very close to the action.

“We decided doing it thrust would be the way to go,” Boettcher said. “That’s the way it was originally done in the Sullivan Street Playhouse off broadway beginning in 1960.

  Ian Emerson

”The primary reason for this is because The Fantasticks is such an intimate, small-scale musical. It has only eight people in the cast. It isn’t a big splashy Broadway razzle dazzle thing.”
The show will include live music, but the small group of musicians will be located on the main stage behind a screen.
 

  From left, Hucklebee (Don
  Tieri) and Bellamy (David
  Besky) perform during 
  dress rehearsal on Aug. 24. 

  (Provided photo by Patrick
  Murray)

In addition to Boettcher and Murray, the production staff includes Kevin McOlgan, music director; Sophia Schloen, harp; Nils Higdon, percussion; Gregory Wysinger, stage manager; and John Sanchez, lighting designer.

In addition to Murray, the cast includes Jonathan D. Mesisca as The Narrator and El Gallo, Ian James Emerson as The Boy, David Besky as Bellomy (The Girl’s father), Don Tieri as Hucklebee (The Boy’s father), Edward Voci as The Old Actor, Juan Munoz Terrazas as The Man Who Dies and Carlyse Cheméil Minerva Owens as the Mute.

Boettcher and Tipton said they are excited about the quality and experience of the professional cast. The national call attracted well more than 100 submissions. 

They said they are especially glad Mesisca agreed to join the production.
 

  From left, Mortimer (Juan
  Terrazas), The Mute
  (Carlyse Owens), El Gallo
  (Jonathan Mesisca), Henry
  (Edward Voci) rehearse 
  The Fantasticks on 
  Wednesday. The show 
  opens Friday at Flossmoor 
  Community House. 

  (Provided photo by Patrick 
​  Murray)

“Our production will be the fourth time he’s played El Gallo,” Boettcher said. “He loves this piece. He loves the role.”

“The Fantasticks” is the second production by Artists Walk Theatre. The company’s mission is to bring professional dramatic arts to the South Suburbs. 

Boettcher and Tipton said the first production last year, “Lost in Yonkers,” was artistically successful and helped improve its fundraising results for this production.

They hope this show will help the company build audience and momentum.

Tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com.


Eric Crump contributed to this story.

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