Coachella Valley Repertory Presents the West Coast Premiere of ‘The Fantasticks’

CATHEDRAL CITY – Coachella Valley Repertory opens its 2023-2024 Season with the West Coast Premiere of a game-changing, re-imagined and re-gendered adaptation of “The Fantasticks” by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt.

The casting has been announced with Eric Kunze (Broadways’ Les Miserables, Miss Saigon and Damn Yankees) playing the role of El Gallo; Lisa Vroman (Broadways Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and Aspects of Love) playing Matt’s mother; and Wayne Bryan (Broadways Tintypes, Rodgers & Hart, and Good News) as Henry.  The cast also features Sade Adoyele as Lewis’ mother; Amber Lux Archer as the Mute, Erik Romney as Mortimer, and introduces Jack Mastrianni as Lewis and Eric Phelps as Matt. Craig Wells, who led CVRep’s production of Hand To God last season, will direct

“The Fantasticks” is the longest running musical in New York since opening in 1960, the longest-running uninterrupted show of any kind in the United States and has been produced and loved around the world. It received an Obie Award and special Tony© Award. “The Fantasticks” includes such touching songs as “Try to Remember,” “Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” and many others. In this sensitive and illuminating new version, Jones, the original book writer and lyricist, preserved the beloved score and storyline while reconceiving the young lovers – Matt and Luisa – as Matt and Lewis.

“The Fantasticks:” A Love Story Reimagined remains the funny and romantic allegory loosely based on the 1894 play The Romancers (Les Romanesques) by Edmond Rostand (interestingly the author of the achingly romantic Cyrano de Bergerac). Jones completed the rewrite between December 2020 and March 2021. By pretending to feud, two well intentioned mothers, whose families live next door to each other, hope to trick their young sons, Matt and Lewis, into falling in love. The mothers engage the mysterious El Gallo to facilitate their plan. The boys fall in love, grow apart and finally find their way back to each other. They learn that true love is grounded in reality and not in the romantic dreams of youth, and El Gallo’s admonition resonates: “without a hurt, the heart is hollow.”

Director Craig Wells, who has performed the role of El Gallo, said, “When Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt conceived The Fantasticks back in 1960 the world was simpler. The show went on to become the longest running off-Broadway musical and audiences found joy in the simple story of love found, love loss, and love recovered. Tom’s beautiful prose and Harvey’s glorious music gave audiences a chance to remember the first time they fell in love. So why change it at all? Perhaps it’s because accepting that love is love for all people can still be challenging in 2023. Fear, discrimination, and actions based on those fears are being discussed daily in the news. Or perhaps it’s because we are more accepting of different kinds of love within the human experience than we were in 1960.”

CVRep’s 2023-2024 Season includes the West Coast Premiere of “The Fantasticks”: A Love Story Reimagined, the World Premiere of “Summer Session with the Bones Brigade” (winner of CVRep’s 2023 Origins new works program), “Cabaret” (1998 version),  “Potus: Or Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Help Keep Him Alive” (a political farce direct from Broadway and suitable for both sides of the aisle), and George and Ira Gershwin’s timeless musical, “Nice Work if You Can Get It.”

“The Fantasticks:” A Love Story Reimagined runs November 1-12, 2023, with performances on Wednesdays & Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursdays & Fridays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Talkback Thursdays are held after the second Thursday performance, offering audience members the opportunity to discuss the plays with the directors and casts.

Season subscriptions for the full 2023-2024 Season are available, starting at $305. Single tickets will be $50-$88 and are on sale now. Both subscriptions and single tickets are available online at, by calling (760) 296-2966, ext. 115, or at the CVRep box office located at 68510 East Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City. Box office hours are Monday-Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and two hours prior to performances. Group tickets are available and can be arranged by calling the box office.




Image Sources

  • The Fantasticks: CV Repertory