Mansfield Music and Arts Society's current show is "The Fantasticks" a 1960 musical with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones. The show opened on May 3, 1960 off-Broadway, ran for 17,162 performances, closing on January 13, 2002. It tells an allegorical story, loosely based on the play "Les Romanesques" by Edmond Rostand, concerning two fathers who put up a wall between their house to ensure that their children fall in love, because they know that children always do what their parents forbid. Seeking to end the charade, the fathers hire the services of a rogue (El Gallo, who is also the play's narrator) and a roving actor and his sidekick to stage a phony "abduction of Luisa so that Matt can rescue her. In the aftermath of this successful scheme, however, both the boy and girl experience hardships along the way. They rediscover their love for each other and try to develop a more mature relationship. Director Jennifer Mischley infuses her cast with necessary energy to play these roles and music director Shannon Manley obtains some terrific vocals from this multitalented cast, creating a terrific musical treat for their audience members.
Jen's direction is wonderful from start to finish. She makes this well known show, fresh and alive for current day audiences.)Jen and I appeared in "The Fantasticks together back in 1996 where she played Luisa and I played Henry.) Shannon taught the cast the gorgeous harmonic numbers and plays the keyboard beautifully for all of them. Jen and Gary Poholek's colorful set help to create the fun filled intimate atmosphere for this show with different shades of blue. Playing El Gallo is Michael Duarte. His strong baritone voice carries the well known song "Try to Remember" as well as the powerful duet "I Can See It" with Matt and the sinister "Round and Round" with Luisa while Matt is tortured on his world travels. He shows off his comic side during the abduction scene with Henry and Mortimer and during the abduction song "It Depends on What You Pay". Newlywed couple Paul and Staci Morin play Matt and Luisa perfectly, capturing the character's innocent love in Act 1 and their renewed love at the end of Act 2. Their glorious tenor and soprano voices soar off the charts with their musical numbers including "Metaphor", "Soon It's Gonna Rain" and "They Were You", one of the loveliest ballads in the show. Staci is a stunning blonde who's first number is "Much More" which shows off her lovely voice splendidly while Paul's voice shines in the belting "I Can See It" duet with Michael. They also do an excellent job on the quartet jazz song "This Plum is Too Ripe" with the two fathers. The mime is this show is fantastically played by Atia Gravely. Her expressive face and actions throughout the show are dynamite and keep your attention at all times.
The comic fathers, Hucklebee and Bellomy are played wonderfully by Jon Warriner and Glen Fournier. They are very funny with their antics of trying to get their kids together by pretending to feud with each other. Their Spanish style song "Never Say No" and their vaudeville type song "Plant a Radish" are show stopping numbers. Jon and Glen also sing with Michael in the Abduction song and with Paul and Staci in "The Plum is Too Ripe". The two biggest scene stealers of this show are Bruce Church as Henry and Ken Butler as Mortimer who enter and exit through a huge trunk. They abduct Luisa in Act 1 and help to torture Matt in Act 2. Bruce spouts screwed up Shakespearean lines while wanting to show everyone his press notices for shows done many years ago. Ken as the Indian has been dying on stage for 40 years. They are a hoot in these madcap roles. So for a musical treat, be sure to catch this topnotch version of "The Fantasticks" at MMAS. Tell them Tony sent you.