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History Returns to the Stage

From left, Conor Guzmán, Ashley Park, Regi Davis and Gedde Watanabe in “The Fantasticks,” running through Oct. 2 at The Pasadena Playhouse. (Photo by Jim Cox)

From left, Conor Guzmán, Ashley Park, Regi Davis and Gedde Watanabe in “The Fantasticks,” running through Oct. 2 at The Pasadena Playhouse. (Photo by Jim Cox)

PASADENA — “The Fantasticks,” by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, is being staged through Oct. 2 at The Pasadena Playhouse.

This production is directed by Seema Sueko, who helmed the Playhouse’s critically acclaimed production of “Real Women Have Curves” last season.

The cast of eight features Philip Anthony-Rodriguez as El Gallo, Regi Davis as Bellomy, Conor Guzmán as Matt, Ashley Park as Luisa, contemporary dance artist Alyse Rockett as The Mute, Amir Talai as Mortimer, Gedde Watanabe as Hucklebee, and Hal Linden as Henry.

Seema Sueko

Seema Sueko

Linden’s extensive credits include ABC’s “Barney Miller” and a Best Actor Tony Award for his portrayal of Mayer Rothschild in the Broadway musical “The Rothschilds.”

Watanabe, most recently seen in East West Players’ production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” has credits that include Broadway’s “Pacific Overtures,” the movie and TV series “Gung Ho,” and a recurring role on NBC’s “ER.”

“The Fantasticks” opened on May 3, 1960, and played off-Broadway for 17,162 performances before closing on Jan. 13, 2002, making it the longest-running musical in history.

Winner of a Tony Honor for Excellence in Theatre, “The Fantasticks” is a lyrical and romantic musical that tells an allegorical love story about a boy, a girl, two fathers and a wall.

This beloved musical has been seen in over 67 countries and performed in locations ranging from the Peking Opera to the White House.

Sueko heaped praise on the cast of the show, adding, “Beyond their beautiful voices and great acting, these eight individuals bring a unique artistry and life experience to what we hope will be a timely and resonant production.”

Sheldon Epps, artistic director of The Pasadena Playhouse, says, “Seema and her creative team have brought together a wonderfully diverse, talented, charming, and persuasive cast for our production of this much-loved musical. I have no doubt that the entire company will bring both freshness and immediacy to this great classic that will have audiences not just rediscovering the show, but in fact seeing it as if for the first time. I very much look forward to their contributions to this true gem of a musical.”

Jones, lyricist and book writer of “The Fantasticks,” says, “I have been a fan of The Pasadena Playhouse for a long time. I have been a fan of Seema Sueko for a much shorter time, as we met online just a few months ago when she wrote me describing her ideas for a new way to approach ‘The Fantasticks.’ I was so impressed by what she wrote that we began a series of emails, tossing ideas and possibilities back and forth like two jugglers in a vaudeville show.

“When she was finally able to come visit me at my home, we began to pin down our ideas to specifics, and I began, after nearly 60 years, to rewrite a few sections of ‘The Fantasticks.’”

The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 S. El Molino Ave. in Pasadena. The performance schedule is Wednesday through Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets, priced from $25 to $135, are available online at or by calling (626) 356-7529. For more information, visit the website.

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