“Will & Grace” star Eric McCormack is returning to the Stratford Festival. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Eric McCormack to return to Stratford Festival in ‘The Fantasticks’

TORONTO — Eric McCormack is returning to his roots at the Stratford Festival for a special one-night only performance of “The Fantasticks.”

The “Will & Grace” star will take the stage in October for what’s being called a “special concert version” of the world’s longest running musical.

“The Fantasticks in Concert” follows the story of two fathers who create the illusion of a feud between them in hopes of tricking their children into falling in love.

The story is propelled by a narrator, who will be played by McCormack, and won’t include the costumes, props or usual staging of a theatrical performance.

McCormack has a long history with Stratford as one of its best-known alumni. He was the recipient of last year’s Stratford Festival Legacy Award.

“The Fantasticks” was first performed as an off-Broadway show in 1960 and its minimalist sets helped it become a play commonly performed by high schools and theatre camps. But in recent years it has faced scrutiny for offensive stereotypes and situations.

Stratford noted that a decision was made to change some language and scenes in the original script so they ”reflect the evolving social awareness and attitudes of a 21st-century audience.”

Ann Swerdfager, the theatre’s spokeswoman, said a number of “rape” references were removed from the song ”It Depends on What You Pay.” All mentions of “Indian” have been scrubbed from the dialogue, staging and lyrics, and replaced with ”Musketeer,” which she says more accurately reflects the sword fighting scenes in the script.

“This is one example of efforts being made to reinvent and reconsider anachronistic works rather than lose them from the repertoire entirely,” Swerdfager said in an emailed statement.

“The Fantasticks in Concert” will be performed at Stratford’s Avon Theatre on Oct. 30.

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