My fantastic experience

By Erica Bennett

When I was nineteen, I auditioned for the role of “Luisa” for a local civic light opera production of The Fantasticks. I made it to callbacks where the director pulled me aside. Apparently, I had the ability, the youth, the spirit, and the edge, but it was all packaged in a woman’s body; not right for the role. This was my first true disappointment in the theatre. It was my loss of innocence and I despaired. As a consequence, I had never went to see a production of the play.

A couple of weeks ago, I was cleaning out my garage, and came upon a box of LPs. In the box is my original cast album of The Fantasticks, from which I learned the music all those many years ago… Seeing it brought back the pain of never being “right” enough.

Yet, I decided to put aside my reservations, and, last night, I met actor Matt Franta’s parents waiting in line for the start of The Good People’s production of Jones and Schmidt’s The Fantasticks for the Hollywood Fringe, directed by Janet Miller. The Franta’s are so proud of their son, having flown in from Iowa to see the production.

Matt portrays The Boy. In the last scenes of the play, The Boy returns home after experiencing the world; its hardships, disappointments, and despair, only to realize he had perfection at home… In those scenes, Matt’s performance broke my heart. And, for me, the despair came full circle, and it was cathartic. Thank you. for future performance dates and times.

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