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The Fantasticks: Weary of the politics? Escape to a night out with a terrific local theater

Tired of the television news, campaign ads on the radio and the pounding drone of digital feeds on your computer hyping one candidate or the other with yet another appeal for more and more money? 
I was, so last night I escaped from that election fatigue and spent two hours watching eight local actors on Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater stage perform a touching rendition of “The Fantasticks,” the longest running musical on Broadway. It’s score is memorable and moving, and sung superbly by the young lovers, Luisa (played by Allison Devery of Hinesburg) and Matt (played by Cameron Steinmetz, also of Hinesburg), and by Todd Gordon of Middlebury whose rich baritone carries the musical’s most famous opening song “Try to Remember,” as sung by his character El Gallo.
The show’s sparse staging and simple story line are a thin veneer to the complexities of the lives we lead — raising children, the heartache of young love, the trials of friendship, the walls we erect between us, and of growing stronger from the hurt we endure, all of which is more poignantly revealed in the second act.
In these hours of yearning for a better America, of remembering other times when life “was slow and oh so mellow,” this play is a tonic for the heart and our collective soul.
Recall, if you will, the beautiful lyrics and melody of its theme song, (I bet you can’t do so without singing along) and I bet you’ll also feel better by doing so:
“Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh so mellow
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a young and a callow fellow
Try to remember and if you remember
Then follow
Follow
Try to remember when life was so tender
That no one wept except the willow
Try to remember when life was so tender
That dreams were kept beside your pillow
Try to remember when life was so tender
When love was an ember about to billow
Try to remember and if you remember
Then follow
Follow
Deep in December it’s nice to remember
Although you know the snow will follow
Deep in December it’s nice to remember
Without a hurt the heart is hollow
Deep in December
It’s nice to remember
The fire of September that made you mellow
Deep in December our hearts should remember and follow
Follow”
This is a not a rollicking production with a cast of thousands, but it is funny and lighthearted in spots, and poignant and touching in others, thanks to the strong performances of Gordon, Devery and Steinmetz, along with accompanist Harper Michaels on the piano and Rebecca Kauffman on harp, and a supporting cast (Jim Wright, Richard Isenberg, Lonny Edwards, Glen Eastman and Kaitlin Rice) that keeps it fun.
So, take a welcome break from the news, and the campaigns. Seats are still available for all shows this Friday night (starts at 8 pm), a 2 p.m. matinee and 8 pm evening performance on Saturday and another Sunday matinee.
Buy your tickets today by calling the THT, and remember what truly makes America great —community members working together to accomplish small miracles each day. Call a friend or family member and go; it’ll nourish your soul more than you think and it’ll support community theater.
Angelo

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