Hope Summer Repertory Theatre’s 45th season comes to a close with its sixth and final installment, as The Fantasticks hits the DeWitt stage with a message that we all too fondly forget.

Winner of a special Tony Award and an OBIE award, The Fantasticks by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones opens Friday, July 22nd and runs through August 12th . The Beatles said it best, "All you need is love, love is all you need.” This musical brings a comforting message in this time of conflict, hate, and brutality. It reminds us that despite the obstacles in our way, love is ever present as the universal language. 

A boy, a girl, and their two fathers who intend to bring them together by keeping them apart are the center of this whimsical story. The antics of building a wall between the houses, staging an abduction, and faking a family feud are true tests of their relationship. This not-so-average, reverse of a Romeo and Juliet love story takes comedy and tragedy in its most bare form, and forces them to work together harmoniously onstage. The production not only is the world’s longest-running musical, but is widely seen as a theatre gem due to its ability to relate and pull on the heartstrings of individuals from all walks of life. No matter the different levels of tragedy one or many face, hearts will go out and love remains the same.

The creators of The Fantasticks, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, are both well-known for their mutual creation of 110 in the Shade and I Do! I Do! This dynamic duo first met at the University of Texas during a musical revue titled, HIPSY-BOO! This experience paved the way for the two to work on The Fantasticks, a musical based off the play, Les Romanesques. The two were added to the Off-Broadway Walk of Fame and inducted to the Hall of Fame in the Gershwin Theatre.

Danny Lindgren—who depicts El Gallo, our magical narrator—mentions a major theme that stands out to him within the script as “...Ignorance is nice, but once you have been thrown out of Eden then you will understand how great you had it, and how close you are to it.” He goes on to mention his desire for the audience, "If they have seen it before, I hope they find something new. If they haven't seen it [before], I hope it gives them a strange new perspective of the human condition."

Originally from New York City Danny Lindgren received his BFA in Musical Theatre from Ithaca College. His recent credits include: Will Parker in Oklahoma at Merry go Round Playhouse, Smokey in Damn Yankees at Goodspeed Opera House, and Nephew Fred in A Christmas Carol at McCarter Theater.

Director Joe Niesen, states that he hopes the audience “...comes away with the message that no matter how old you are, life is full of obstacles and loss of innocence. Somehow we persevere and all of the lessons and scars along the way can make us wiser, more complete, and more able to love and be loved in return.” Niesen says, “Young audiences relate to Luisa and Matt. Older audiences relate to the fathers. Listen carefully to what El Gallo has to say.”

Come learn to love through the trials these characters face in The Fantasticks.

Hope Summer Repertory Theatre (HSRT) is West Michigan’s premier professional theatre company for the last 45 years. The company is a unique blend of distinguished professionals and young theatre artists from all over the United States, creating an intergenerational synergy between our emerging and advanced artists. The theatre is distinguished by the wide variety of plays and musicals performed by one resident acting company. This wide variety of repertoire is unified by the goal to explore and celebrate the joy and complexity of the human condition. The company numbers over 100 annually taking up residence for the summer in Holland; producing 6 shows in rotation every summer on the DeWitt Theatre stage—a 494 seat thrust space and the DeWitt Studio—a 125 seat theatre in the round.

The Fantasticks stars an eight person cast and a talented creative team:

Cast: Tom Bengston ​(Bellomy), Emily Brett (Luisa), Nate DeCook ​(Matt), Chip DuFord ​(Hucklebee), Tom Emmott (Henry), Danny Lindgren (El Gallo), Chaz Arnett Sanders ​(Mute), and Bryce Michael Wood (Mortimer).

Creative Team: Joe Niesen ​(Director/Choreographer), Fred Tessler (Music Director), Tyler M. Perry (Scenic Designer), Peter E. Sargent (Lighting Designer), Kristen P. Ahern ​(Costume Designer), Amanda Werre (Sound Designer), Brian M. Robillard ​(Stage Manager), Eliza Burwell (Assistant Stage Manager), and Nate Hudson​(Publicist).

The Fantasticks by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt
 DeWitt Theatre | 8 p.m.
July 22, 23, 25, 27, 30* August 1, 3, 5, 9, 11 
*2 p.m. & 8 p.m. shows

Ticketing information
Adult: $33 Mezz/Bal $28 Orch
Senior/Faculty & Staff: $30 Mezz/Bal $25 Orch
Children under 18: $15 All seating

Publicity Photos
Fantasticks1: Left: Emily Brett ​(Luisa), Center: Danny Lindgren ​(El Gallo), Right: Nate DeCook ​(Matt)
*Photos were taken at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, 272 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504