Matthew Scott Moore

The Fantasticks (Henry)

The Fantasticks, by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, has maintained its popularity since its debut in 1960. This starkly understated musical uses only a few props. It’s partly a spoof of plays with romantic themes, but has universal appeal as a timeless story of love and discovery. There are a handful of characters: the boy and girl, Matt and Luisa, their fathers (or single parents), the stage villain El Gallo, Henry, “an ancient actor down on his luck,” and his assistant, Mortimer. For his second NTID role, Matthew played Henry–another portrayal in a series of unforgettable ASL performances.

The photos below give some notion of Matthew’s range of purely comic expressions. Henry portrays an Indian, pirate, and Shakespearean hero with gusto, even though his memory is rusty and his motley costumes are shabby, ragged, and patched together. He’s a dusty old traveler who has put in too many years of touring, but refuses to retire, still basking in the stagelights, thriving on applause, striving for an elusive Shakespeareann grandeur. Matthew had a lot of fun with this character. So did the audience.



Longing to see his name in lights: the tattered, battered Henry,
forever dreaming of Shakespeartean glories...



...in the guise of an Indian, assisting with the abduction of Luisa...







...and as a ferocious pirate.

On opening night, as Matthew went onstage for his first appearance as Henry, he experienced every actor’s worst fear: his mind just blanked out, and he “lost” his lines. So he incorporated his temporary confusion into the character. As portrayed by Matthew, Henry entered the stage, trying hard to remember his lines, struggling to recall what he was going to say—all done with comic grace. After a few moments, Matthew’s memory “unlocked,” and he began to sign his scripted lines. The audience believed that Henry’s momentary hesitation and agonized expressions were a deliberate part of the characterization—and they loved it.

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