PEEKSKILL, NY—What do you get when you take one of Off-Broadway’s timeless classics and show it in one of Peekskill’s landmark historic buildings? A unique presentation fusing beautiful architecture, local and professional talent, and an experience not to be missed.
Produced by Embark Peekskill (a performing and literary arts organization) and The Flatz Properties, the show will be performed in a rather non-conventional spot: the ballroom of the newly named Flatz building. Originally built in 1865, the P.G. Ferris Building was first a hotel. Since then, it has changed hands and purposes—at one time serving as offices for former governor and resident of Peekskill, George Pataki.
The original brickwork and moldings, along with newer but historic finishes, make the perfect backdrop for The Fantasticks, a classic tale of love, humor, song, and heartbreak.
For the production, producer and director Katie Schmidt Feder wanted to stage the musical in a space that would feel like entering another world: “The Flatz is such a magnificent space. As soon as I saw the ballroom, I could feel an energy that I knew would make this show something really unique and special.” Feder had a special stage built in the ballroom, complete with canvas fabrics, innovative lighting, and even trees which reach the 12 foot ceilings.
Owner of The Flatz, property developer Monica Flaherty, is thrilled with the partnership. “This feels like a great way to bring Peekskill together—a historic building, a small independent theater, all in the heart of Downtown Peekskill. This has been nothing but positive for our neighborhood.”
Also new to The Flatz and the downtown area is the Big Bang Coffee Roasters, whose cafe is at the rear of the ballroom. Owner and coffee roaster, Elina Dart, is also part of the partnership, featuring her locally roasted coffee and other treats during the performances.
Of course, the show itself, is a great crowd pleaser. The Fantasticks is the world’s longest-running musical. Written in 1960 by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, it ran off-broadway for 42 consecutive years, had a revival, and performances around the world, from professional stages to high school and community theaters. With its sparse cast and timeless love story, its memorable songs like “Try to Remember” and “Soon it’s Gonna Rain,” have become classics in the musical theatre canon.
The show features top-rate talent: Luisa is played by a remarkably gifted and mature 15 year old Melody Munitz, whose voice is ready for the big stage. Opposite her is the equally talented Torian Brackett, Mount Vernon resident and graduate of SUNY New Paltz’s theater program. Erik Contzius’ El Gallo (the narrator of the story) is roguish and entertaining as one would expect. The fathers, played by Frank Reale and Luis Alonzo Guzman, have wonderful chemistry on stage. Tom Campbell (The Actor) and Stephen Velichko (The Man Who Dies) bring wonderful comic relief and some surprises not to be missed. And Suzi Tippa’s Mute performance is a terrific compliment to the on stage action.
The set and lighting design, conceived by Feder and brilliantly executed by her, Gene Panczenko and Tom Brown, along with a wonderful group of Peekskill volunteers, integrates seamlessly with the backdrop of the historic architecture.
Embark Peekskill was cofounded by Katie Schmidt Feder and Sol Miranda (director & actor, most recently appearing on Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).
The Fantasticks will play at 1008 Main Street in downtown Peekskill December 5, 6, 11, a gala performance on December 12, and a possible extension December 18 & 19. December 5 is already sold out, but tickets are still on sale at Big Bang Coffee Roasters and online at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2462559.