LEWISBURG — The longest-running musical in history, “The Fantasticks,” is coming to Lewisburg this month, as RiverStage Community Theatre will adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic by presenting a free outdoor musical for the first time ever.

“The Fantasticks,” a funny, romantic tale of moonlight and magic, will be performed for one weekend, at 6:30 each evening Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 17-19 at at the Hufnagle Park Gazebo near Fifth and Market streets, Lewisburg. Admission is free and no tickets are required, but online donations are encouraged. Audience members will also be required to wear a mask and observe social distancing rules. For more info, call 570-989-0848 or visit www.riverstagetheatre.org.

“The Fantasticks” by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, is a charming musical about a boy (Matt), a girl (Luisa), and their two fathers who try to keep them apart. As the narrator asks the audience to use imagination and follow him into a world of moonlight and magic, the boy and the girl fall in love, grow apart and finally find their way back to each other. The Fantasticks ran Off-Broadway for over 42 years, making it the longest-running musical in history.

“The Fantasticks is the perfect show for this location and these circumstances,” said director and RiverStage board President Jove Graham. “It is a beautiful, funny, simple tale about young love in the moonlight, and it works perfectly outdoors in a park setting. Because of COVID-19, RiverStage canceled our spring and summer productions, and we are waiting until November to begin a new season, but we thought of this show when we were brainstorming for something fun that we could do to fill the gap. With a very small cast needed for rehearsals, and a minimalist set design, it’s exactly the right show to be able to do for free, outdoors, even with masking and social distancing in place. We wanted our community to know that we are still here, and live theater is still alive!”

Admission to the show is free, and instead of selling tickets, RiverStage has launched an online fundraising drive of approximately $3,000 to cover the expenses for the show and to help support the theater during the pandemic. Donations of any amount can be made at www.gofundme.com/riverstage-fantasticks.

The production features a small cast of musical performers from past RiverStage productions through the years. Bryanna Kifolo and Tyler Marvin play Luisa and Matt, respectively, and their two fathers are played by Glenn Wilson and Fred Hooper. A small troupe of traveling actors, Henry and Mortimer, are played by Elaine Pfeil and Steven Stumbris, while the narrator (Graham) and a Mute (Trey Casimir) oversee the proceedings and lead the audience through the story. It is directed by Graham, with sound design by Stefan Eisenhower, lighting design by Patrick Maynard, and other production support by Cynthia Shaffer. In case of a rain cancellation, an extra matinee performance will be added at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20.

RiverStage Community Theatre was founded in 2003 as a nonprofit group to give local artists opportunities to create theater to the Greater Susquehanna Valley. After “The Fantasticks,” the new season will begin in November with Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men, followed by A Lewisburg Victorian Nutcracker, The Secret Garden, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, and ending with Monty Python’s Spamalot next summer.

Chris Brady is managing editor at The Standard-Journal and can be reached at chris@standard-journal.com.

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