A talented cast of Oro Valley Theatre Group performers ranging from 14 to 80 years of age has been rehearsing more than a month toward four presentations of "The Fantasticks" this week in the black box theater at Ironwood Ridge High School.

Oro Valley Theatre Group stages the play four times Wednesday through Saturday, July 16-18. The curtain rises on evening shows at 7 p.m. all three days. There is a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday as well.

That matinee is free for seniors, though they are asked to call in advance. Otherwise,  ticket prices are $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for students. The theater is located at 2475 W. Naranja.

Founder James Ewing is directing the cast, which includes people from Oro Valley and the region. Trish Ambrosio is associate director.

"The Fantasticks" is the longest-running musical in the history of Broadway.

"It's done everywhere, and people love it," Ewing said. "It has the fantasy of young lovers, and parents being successful, and adventure. It's all about illusion and imagination."

He's directed The Fantasticks four times, describing himself as "obsessed, crazy and in love with the show. It has wonderful characters, and it's just great fun to direct."

Ewing started the Oro Valley Theatre Group in October 2008.

"I just missed theater so much I couldn't stand it," Ewing said. He met young and older actors looking for a venue, "and there was nothing in Oro Valley to give them the opportunity to work."

Away they went, with Ewing's interpretations of original work. To date, productions have included "Alice in Wonderland," Ewing's "Madame Scrooge, a Dark Comedy," "Stage Door" and now "The Fantasticks."

"I don't do things as they are written," Ewing said. "I think theater should be about fun, and we've made it great fun."

In August, the Oro Valley Theatre Group presents a Festival of One Acts. People are being invited to send their original scripts for a judged weekend of theater.

Next season, Ewing plans a celebration of American playwright Neil Simon.

And, in the long term,  he wants to build a theater in Oro Valley, so the community "can have its own great regional theater."

For more information, call 603-9351 or e-mail www.Ovtheatregroup@yahoo.com. The website is theovtg.com.

The Fantasticks

Oro Valley Theatre Group

The cast:

Natasha Conti, Kristina Moser, Nathaniel Dean, Joe Borunda, Trish Ambrosio, Sagi Midgley, Sue Bishop, Amy Gurr, Abbie Fioccoprile, Robert Mower, Nick Scott,  Parker Snell, John Guerrero

Director – James Ewing

Assistant to the directors – John Guerrero

Sound technicians – Lacy Padilla, Ian Ambrosio

Creative consultant – Beth May

Executive assistants – Sue Bishop, Vivian Hearld

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