The 2016-17 season of Pittsburgh Public Theater has begun with a show that is the perfect escape from the dominating presidential election, causing everyone stress. The Fantasticks is a farcical musical that is sure to please anyone with a strong cast, beautiful songs, and a story that many will enjoy. While there is nothing gay or queer about the show or story line, it transcends the hetero love story, to be about themes with which anyone can relate.
The basis of the storyline is generally understood to be about the two fathers who pretend to feud as a ploy to get their children together. At the base of their conniving, is a wall that separates the two adjoining properties. The children fall in love, believing they are acting against their fathers’ wishes. Once together, with their fathers’ agenda unmasked, they second-guess their emotions and seek independence from one another. Then after some experiences apart, they get back together, re-establishing the facade of the ploy first perpetuated by the fathers. It’s really all about the wall.
I thought about this all important wall this past week, as I sat over coffee, listening to a younger friend lamenting how he can’t find anyone to date. It seemed that there was a guy who had been chasing him for a while. He kept turning down a date even though he was really interested in him. They finally went out and actually had a great date. And that was the problem. My young friend freaked out that it went so well, and pulled back. As I listened to him, I couldn’t help but realize how much more comfortable he is being single and separated from potential mates. The fathers built a real wall between their properties, but how many people erect imaginary or emotional walls?
Imagine a gay version of this musical? Two fathers who realize that each has a gay child even though the children don’t realize it yet. The fathers conspire and create a faked abduction as a way to have the one child appear as heroic to the other cementing the love between them. Is there a way to include Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” as well as a disco version of “Try to Remember”? The fathers will be heroes for being so supportive. The children will be so cute and lovable and will end up together in the end. We’ll call it camp instead of farce, and everyone will love it.
In the mean time, you still have a chance to see Pittsburgh Public’s excellent production. Check out their website for tickets.