Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Fantasticks"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"The Fantasticks"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Granite Theatre'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, ran for 17,162 performances, closing on January 13, 2002, making it the world's longest running musical and it recently reopened in New York on July 28, 2006. The show tells an allegorical story, loosely based on the play "Les Romanesques" by Edmond Rostand, concerning two fathers who put up a wall between their two houses 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, as well as 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 David Jepson infuses his cast with the necessary energy to play these roles and stages the musical numbers perfectly while doing so and music director Audrey Kaiser obtains some outstanding vocals from this terrific cast, creating a musical treat their audiences can enjoy.

Leading this cast is Geoff Leatham as El Gallo. He plays this smarmy role wonderfully. 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. Geoff shows off his comic side during the abduction scene with Henry and Mortimer and during the abduction song "It Depends on What You Pay''. URI students Nile Hawver and Micah Tougas play Matt and Luisa perfectly, capturing the characters innocent love in Act 1, their tortured break up and renewed love in Act 2. Their glorious tenor and soprano voices soar off the charts in their musical numbers including "Metaphor", "Soon It's Gonna Rain" and "They Were You", one of the loveliest ballads in the show as well as my favorite song. Micah is a pretty brunette who's first number is "Much More" which shows off her lovely voice wonderfully while Nile's voice shines in the belting " I Can Feel It" duet with Geoff. They also do an excellent job on the quartet jazz song "This Plum is Too Ripe'' with the two fathers. The mime in this show is wonderfully played by ninth grade student, Grace Rezendes who is a whirlwind of activity, handing out props, being the wall, rain and snow.

The comic fathers, Hucklebee and Bellomy are excellently played by Frank Pendola and Arthur Pignataro. They are hilarious with their crazy antics of trying to get their kids together by pretending to feud with each other. They show off their strong singing voices in their Spanish style song "Never Say No" and their vaudeville style song "Plant a Radish" which are show stopping numbers. Frank and Arthur also sing with Geoff in "It Depends on What you Pay" and with Nile and Micah in "This Plum is Too Ripe". Two other scene stealers in this show are Bill Sturdevant as Henry and John Cillino as Mortimer who enter and exit through a huge trunk. They abduct Luisa in Act 1 and help to torture Matt in Act 2. Bill spouts screwed up Shakespearean lines while wanting to show everyone his press notices for shows done many years ago. John as the Indian has been dying on stage for 40 years. They are a hoot in these madcap roles. So for trip back to 1960, be sure to catch "The Fantasticks" at the Granite Theatre.

"The Fantasticks" (3 August - 2 September)
THE GRANITE THEATRE
364 Card's Pond Road, MATUNUCK RI
1 (1 (401) 596-2341

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