DERBY LINE - Phil Gosselin, originally from Newport, moved to New York City, after graduating from North Country High School, and pursued his dreams in theater. Now he's returned to the area to direct a musical at the Haskell.
Gosselin is directing the longest running musical in the world: "The Fantasticks." This is Gosselin's first endeavor with directing and it's going great; Gosselin could not be happier, he said.
“There is just something about live theater,” he said.
Gosselin is thrilled at the opportunity to work in the world famous Haskell Opera House in Derby Line. "It's one of – if not my most – favorite stages,” Gosselin said. He is also impressed with its 100-year-old charm and the fact that is straddles the border. "There's no other place like it in the world," he said.
The cast and crew for the show are there, not to make money, but because they want to be, Gosselin explained. They love acting and are so passionate about it, he added. And Gosselin, coming back to his roots, feels a strong sense of support.
Gosselin is grateful and feels fortunate for the opportunity to direct at the Haskell.
Gosselin has acted in shows in New York, Florida, and Vermont, but directing is new for him. Because he has experience acting, from the age of 11, he knows how to communicate well with the actors and knows what they need from a director.
Gosselin finds the role of directing especially rewarding. He is able to see his creation and feel a sense of pride over the accomplishment while seeing those with whom he has spent the last seven weeks working so closely. Some of the production members are new to Gosselin, but some he remembers from his pre-college days acting with QNEK, the resident theater company at the Haskell.
Gosselin chose "The Fantasticks" as the musical he wanted to direct for his first time. He did not need to modify the story in any way because it is so close to perfect, Gosselin said. The musical has something for everyone's, with comedy, suspense and more.
Gosselin started with the Derby Stock Company when he was in sixth grade and then went to QNEK, where he performed every summer until college in 2003. Gosselin was in town last summer and starred in QNEK's production of "39 Steps," and came the pervious fall when he was able to step in for an actor in "Dracula."
After the show ends Saturday evening, he will head back to New York City.
Gosselin doesn’t feel the life of a full-time actor is something he wants, but he will explore other options in production and artist administration, he said.
He earned a degree from Syracuse in musical theater and his future is open to explore, and he hopes more opportunities at the Haskell, a special place to him, are in his future.
"The Fantasticks," originally by Harry Schmidt and Tom Jones, tells the story of two star-crossed lovers whose families staged a scenario to force them to fall in love. After the youngsters discover the scheme, they go their separate ways, but come back together, a bit bruised from the real world and far more mature people. The story has elements of "Romeo and Juliet" and "A Midsummer’s Night Dream."
"The Fantasticks" can be seen at the Haskell this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.