A traveling team of actors adorned in corsets and goggles, top hats and gears will make a stop at Washington State University as part of a 15-week, 60-city, 72-performance tour across the nation.The Nebraska Theatre Caravan will perform a steampunk inspired adaptation of the musical “The Fantasticks” at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Before getting the show on the road, a production team gathered to discuss the first production of “The Fantasticks” more than two years ago at the Omaha Playhouse, which is home base for the NTC.
“No one was real excited about doing the traditional staging yet again,” said NTC producing director Beau Bisson.
So a costume shop manager mentioned the idea of “steampunk.”
“Steampunk is a marriage of Victorian-era costumes … embellished with an industrial deconstruction,” Bisson said. “It’s taking machinery and you pull it out, and you rip out the gears and you rip out the springs. It has a sort of industrial fantasy.”
Light bulbs switched on around the planning table.
“Suddenly everyone got real energized,” Bisson said. “It just made this whole thing come to life.”
They took the show to stage at the Omaha Playhouse in February 2012, and it was a hit. They nabbed a touring license and started booking NTC productions.
“We weren’t sure how people would react,” Bisson said. “There’s a lot of ‘Fantasticks’ purists out there, because it’s been out there so long, but people are so engaged in this whole steampunk concept.”
The show stays true to the original production, except for costumes, stage and props.
“The trick for the production team was doing a balancing act,” Bisson said. “It’s a very charming little piece with some songs that have grown way beyond the show, but we still wanted to maintain the charm and innocence in the show, but with the steampunk concept.”
That being said, Bisson noted some intricate steampunk elements at different points throughout the show.
“It starts out really simple into the first act, and by the end of the first act, you start to really see the steampunk creep in. By act two, there’s a point where it’s full-bore steampunk.”
A mute character throughout the show is dressed with pieces of a brass armor suit, and there’s a dragon decorated to battle a boy with a sword.
“It’s just a unique piece of craftsmanship,” Bisson said. “They’ve used musical instruments, flutes, bamboo, strips of fabric, embroidery hoops, just any bit of something lying around to fashion together the dragon.”
The eight-person cast will bring the all-ages show to Jones Theatre in Daggy Hall at the corner of Northeast College Avenue and Southeast Idaho Street on the WSU campus.
Reserved seating costs $22 for adults, $18 for seniors and $11 for students and youth. Tickets can be purchased at TicketsWest.com, by phone at (800) 325-SEAT and at the Beasley Coliseum box office, which is open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Additional fees apply to online and phone purchases.
“It’s a great way to introduce a whole new generation to a classic piece of musical theater,” Bisson said. “But it’s also going to really capture the imagination of those who have known and loved the show for years. They’ll enjoy it as if they’re seeing it for the first time.”
Treffry can be reached at (208) 883-4640 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LindseyTreffry.
->if you go:
WHAT: Nebraska Theatre Company’s steampunk production of “The Fantasticks”
WHEN: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Jones Theatre in Daggy Hall, corner of Northeast College Avenue and Southeast Idaho Street, WSU campus, Pullman
TICKETS: $22 adults, $18 seniors, $11 WSU students and youth. Tickets can be purchased at TicketsWest.com, by phone at (800) 325-SEAT and at the Beasley Coliseum box office.