The Fantasticks- meet cast member Fred Lash!
What do you find appealing about your character and this show?That year, I played one of the fathers, Huckelbee, in a production by the Okinawa Theatre Guild (while serving on active duty in the Marine Corps). Fast forward to 1990, when I played the same role at the Little Theatre of Alexandria. A few years later, I would play Henry in Springfield Community Theatre’s version of “The Fantasticks.” Now, in 2019, I find myself once again taking the stage as the ‘old actor’ and thoroughly enjoying it at age 74!
What have you learned about yourself in playing the role of “___”?
I love this role, as it affords me the opportunity to mix Shakespeare, Laurel and Hardy, and Robin Williams all into one character. Obviously, this show, and its memorable musical score, has always been a favorite of mine since it opened in New York in 1960. As Henry, an aging actor who has performed so many years that he has worn down a bit, I find a lot of myself and my experiences. However, despite his age and years of acting, he is still able to “dress the stage” quite well and project to the back row of the theatre! I have learned to pace myself and to appear as several different images and personalities throughout the show. I have also learned that I must be aware of my physical limitations and use them to enhance my character’s personality and acting range.
What do you want the audience to experience/take away from this show?
I want the audience to be uplifted and to recall those times in their various pasts when they experienced love for the first time; but to also realize that love and happiness do not come without pain, suffering, and a certain amount of sorrow. It is the ups and downs of life; the peaks and valleys of living; and the ebb and flow of happiness that the audience should see, hear, and embrace.
How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on?
The cast members of “The Fantasticks” have bonded into a true family and ensemble that functions together. I believe that it is necessary that such a togetherness be formed so as to create one entity in which individuals tell their own stories and, like a quilt, a whole cloth is created. We have gotten to know each other very well, we share our pains, sense our limitations and strengths, and support each other in a way I have seldom seen in my sixty years of acting.
How long have you been acting and what made you get involved in theatre? How did you get involved with LTA?
I have been acting since my high school days in Indiana, back in the 60s. My father sang with a semi-professional Elks Club chorale that toured the U.S. and my mother had a lot of artistry concealed behind her housewife exterior. By the time I got to Purdue University, I was ready to get on stage and perform as much as I could, without sacrificing grades. After having retired from the Marine Corps in 1986, and locating my family in Northern Virginia, I became aware of LTA when I saw an audition notice for “The Fantasticks” in 1989. After playing Huckelbee in that production, I was hooked and have done nearly fifty shows in this area at various community theatres since then (including ten at LTA).
What advice would you give others who are interested in working in theatre?
As far as advice is concerned, I would offer this. Go to as many auditions as you can and soak in the various styles, voice intonations, non-verbal gestures, and looks that you can. Most importantly, don’t worry about failing to land a part in a certain show. Just keep watching, learning and developing your own unique mannerisms—that is what will propel you into a role.