The Fantasticks, with book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt and directed by Cherie Ulmer, opens Nov. 25 at Pentacle Theatre.

The Fantasticks is a small-ensemble musical whose original off-Broadway production played for 42 years straight, making it the longest-running musical in history.

The show has a universal charm that relies on a small cast of players on a stage without scenery who tell a simple story: A boy, a girl, two fathers and a wall. Love is discovered, love is lost and then regained — all enriched by the wisdom that comes from painful, inevitable life experience.

“There’s a line in the song, “Try to Remember,” that says, “Without a hurt the heart is hollow,” said director Cherie Ulmer.

“If everything is always perfect and wonderful, we don’t grow,” she said. “We must have those difficult life challenges to change for the better.”

But no matter what life experiences people have had, Ulmer added, they will find things in the show that will touch their hearts.

The Fantasticks borrows theatrical devices from many cultures and times, notably Commedia dell’arte, early Greek drama and American musical comedy. The tale is told by a troupe of players on an intimate stage without scenery, and everything needed for the story comes from an onstage prop box including a cardboard moon, rapiers and even some of the actors.

While there may have been different interpretations of The Fantasticks done throughout the world, including an earlier production Ulmer herself played in at Pentacle Theatre, she is happily sticking with the show’s original concept.

“We’re keeping it simple,” Ulmer said. “The show’s eight actors are supported by only two musicians, who play piano and harp. Our intimate Pentacle theatre stage keeps the audience closely connected to the players and the story. This helps make The Fantasticks a musical in its purest form.”

The players 

Zachary Brehm as El Gallo, The Narrator.

Noah Miller as Matt, The Boy.

Phoebe Jacobs as Luisa, The Girl.

Jeff Sanders as Hucklebee, The Boy’s Father.

Robert Henry as Bellomy, The Girl’s Father.

Bob Barnett as Henry, The Old Actor.

Rob Sim as Mortimer, The Man Who Dies.

Anthony Redelsperger as The Mute.


The musicians

Christie Smith on piano.

Kimberly Houser-Taylor on harp.


Know before you go

What: The Fantasticks, with book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt.

  • Directed at Pentacle Theatre by Cherie Ulmer.
  • Sponsored by The Compton Family Foundation.

When: Friday, Nov. 25 – Saturday, Dec. 17.

  • Evening performances Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday matinee performances at 2 p.m.
  • Doors open one hour before curtain to allow extra time for seating.

Where: Pentacle Theatre, 324 52nd Ave. NW. off Highway 22 about 6 miles west of downtown Salem.

Tickets online: Buy tickets at

  • All seats are $30.
  • Frontline healthcare workers and people who hold an Oregon Trail Card are eligible for a 50 percent discount.

Audience suitability: The Fantasticks is suitable for all ages.

Pentacle Theatre COVID policies:

 Please check back for updates to our Covid policies. They change from time to time to reflect how variants are behaving.

Pentacle Theatre values the health and safety of our patrons. The Governing Board has adopted these guidelines for patrons as of Nov. 14, 2022.

Masks recommended and encouraged

Pentacle Theatre appreciates all patrons and volunteers who choose to wear masks to protect others. If you aren’t feeling well, please stay home. We can exchange your tickets for a date when you feel better.

Actors are tested weekly.

This policy is subject to change.


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