HHS Senior Produces and Directs “Fantasticks”

Benjamin Nigrosh, Editor-In-Chief

Soon, HHS’ auditorium will be prepped and ready for the debut of the student directed production of “Fantasticks,” the Shakespearean-esk musical of two feuding families with children looking to bridge the divide in the name of love.

Directed by HHS senior Galen Graham, the show is the product of his independent study in drama, working with the school’s drama director, Valerie von Rosenvige, to plan out the entire production. Graham hopes that one of the benefits from this endeavor is getting a more hands on experience in what he could be doing in the future.

“I’m having a very direct experience in what goes on backstage, and behind the scenes in general,” Graham said. “I feel like it’s improved my gratitude as an actor, [seeing] the amount of work that goes into a show that I’m not involved in.”

Over the past several months, Graham has spent countless hours studying the show, planning out exactly how he wanted it to look and feel on a high school stage. With Fantasticks, he has been able to make the show completely his own. From casting, scene direction, lighting, and costumes, they are all a product of his imagination and creativity.

But, he implores, he would not be where he is in the process without the help of other students and von Rosenvige herself.

Along with Graham, the show’s production is being assisted by senior Daniel Potapov, who Graham personally thinks of as his “co-director.” In the show, Potapov plays the omnipresent narrator “El Gallo,” hatching plans to move the story forward. On top of this, Potapov is also being tasked with playing the piano, one of the only instruments in the show. In this tandem role, Potapov’s actions both literally and figuratively help to control the plot of the show.

“[El Gallo is] kind of like the puppet master,” Potapov said. “His message is that life isn’t a fairy tale. And while it may seem like one at first, it’s worth extending the story and see what happens, and he basically is in charge of all of that.”

Aside from the antics of the show, Graham hopes that it will be relatable. He sees show’s themes of love, loss, and growth as something that any person can connect to their own lives. With Fantasticks being the longest running musical in music theater history, Graham believes that it has lasted so long because of this universal nature.
“It’s almost like it was built to be timeless,” Graham said.

And cast members agree. One of the show’s leads, senior Brittany Forsmo, expressed deep and sentimental ties with the show, and her character, Luica.

“It touches on that really young aspect of me that’s not ready to move on,” Forsmo said. “Especially with college coming up, it’s one of those things where I feel Luica, I understand some of the things that her character is supposed to be going through.”

Being a student led production, the actors’ timelines to learn their roles are significantly shorter than most shows put on at HHS, so they’ve had to spend much of their time personally trying to relate to their roles to get the most out of them.

“It’s a little less time, a lot more self commitment, and you have to depend on yourself to do the work. You have to put a lot of trust in the actors. I think Galen has put a lot of trust in us to do our work,” Forsmo said.

Despite the shortened timeline, there was unanimous agreement among all of the actors that this opportunity was an important one, for themselves and for Graham especially.

“Most of the time Galen’s been the one on stage, and never really behind the scenes,” cast member Matthew Fliegauf said. “I’ve heard that the best thing you can do as a performer is to not be a performer… get that experience backstage, directing and producing.”

With much of the cast being upperclassmen, they are doing what they can to make what will probably be their last show at HHS a memorable one, a sentiment that can best be summed up by a quote from Graham himself.

“It’s really been an amazing experience,” Graham said. “If you have any one reason to come see it, it’s some of the most talented students in the school that have come together to put on something that they see. It’s all of our vision.”

Fantasticks is showing in the Hopkinton High School Auditorium on April 26 and 27 at 7pm.