Community Arts Center offers steampunk musical 'The Fantasticks'

March 27, 2014
By SIMONE BROWN - Sun-Gazette Correspondent Williamsport Sun-Gazette

Nebraska Theatre Caravan will bring the world's longest-running production, "The Fantasticks," to the Community Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

"It's a story about finding, understanding and practicing true love," Chad Bradford, who plays El Gallo, said. "What at first seems like a simple story of forbidden love between a sweet boy and an imaginative young girl soon gets turned on its head when they realize what happens after 'happily ever after.' "

"The Fantasticks" was written in 1960 by Harvey Schmidt, with the lyrics by Tom Jones. It was loosely based on the play "The Romancers" by Edmond Rostand.

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The original off-Broadway production became the longest-running musical in the world, running for 42 years with a total of 17,162 performances. The Community Arts Center performance will offer a steampunk twist to the musical.

Bradford's character, El Gallo, is the narrator of the piece.

"Not only do I invite the audience to come and enjoy the story and give commentary on the action, I also decide to take part in the action to provide a little mischief, in order to keep the story moving along," Bradford said.


Bradford first began acting professionally while in college, and later earned a master's degree in acting from Penn State University.

"Since then, theater and music have been my sole profession. I knew this was my path when I was 16 and found myself sitting, still mesmerized long after the curtain fell, in the mezzanine of a Broadway theater. My companions had already left with much of the audience, but I was transfixed. It was one of my first Broadway shows. In that moment, I realized that it was my dream to learn to give others the magic that I had just experienced," Bradford said.

"The song 'Try to Remember' is one that most baritones run across during their training," Bradford said. "I also saw the show off-broadway when it reopened in Midtown Manhattan back in 2006 with Burke Moses in the role of El Gallo."

According to Bradford, the travelling theater experience is one that has opened up new friendships for him so far.

"One of the wonderful things about doing theater for a living is having the opportunity to befriend a truly remarkable and beautiful array of different people. We travel together, at times in very close quarters, so actors have a knack for finding a way to see the good in everyone," Bradford said.

After performing in this show, Bradford has upcoming theater plans in store.

"I'll go on to direct Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' for the Shake on the Lake Shakespeare Festival in western New York, and have a few other projects in the works after that," Bradford said.

"The Fantasticks" tour will be running until April 27, and will travel next from New York to Washington, then down to New Mexico and over to Florida.

"In one way or another, I can't see my life apart from theater, music and art. I heard one famous acting teacher recently say that our profession is not one that we choose, but chooses us. I think that there is an artist inside each one of us, and I feel privileged to be able to make my living through art. And, as my girlfriend reminds me from time to time, I don't know how to do much else," Bradford said of his future.

The show will begin at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are on sale now. For ticket information, visit or call 570-326-2424. For more information on "The Fantasticks," visit

Additionally, "The Fantasticks" will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lackawanna College, 501 Vine St., Scranton. For more information, call 570-961-7810.




Fantastick Finale: Series ends with musical

"It’s a show about understanding what true love is,” star Chad Bradford said. “It’s not necessarily a cut-and-dry, boy-meets-girl kind of love story. It comes out of a time in dramatic literature in America where people were trying to kind of go past the Rodgers and Hammerstein (style) or the kind of predictable love story model.”

A Little Rock, Ark., native and Penn State University graduate, Mr. Bradford portrays El Gallo, the show’s storyteller.

“He’s the one bringing the audience into the action, breaking the fourth wall and really inviting the audience to celebrate romanticism but also at the same time mock it and make fun of how silly it can be,” Mr. Bradford said. “And so he functions not only as the narrator but sometimes he jumps into the story as well to make sure everything is going along as planned.”

“Because it’s sung to the audience, I get to see peoples’ reactions when it’s over,” he said. “Usually it’s people just smiling, and I can tell you, you’re remembering the first time you heard this.”

The show appeals to lots of people, Mr. Bradford said, and became the longest-running musical for a reason.

“The characters are so universal and the themes are so universal that I think that no matter if you’ve never seen it, if you’ve seen it six times, if you’re 19 years old or you’re 90 years old, there’s going to be something in it that’s going to resonate with you,” he said. “Because the themes have to do with love and family and finding your way in the world and finding your way with another person, and I think that even though the piece is 50 years old, I think that’s something that’s going to hold up for another 50 years.”


Contact the writer: cheaney@timessham, @cheaneyTT on Twitter, CAITLIN HEANEY 3/26/14