Entire contents copyright 1998 by Don Gillis
Book and Lyrics by Tom Jones
Music by Harvey Schmidt
(Suggested by "Les Romanesque" by Edmund Rostand)
Directed and Produced by Chuck PetitBon
Bill McMillan and Amy Thompson
Lighting - Amy Thompson
The Mute.....Rebekah Reid
Bellomy... Jim Whitaker
El Gallo...Nishan Lawton
Mortimer...Douglas A. Cameron
Henry... Tony Annicone
The Fantasticks is the world's longest running Off Broadway musical at 38 years. It is a cute and sweet story of a young boy and girl who are neighbors and fall in love. Their fathers however are pretending to feud, when they are actually trying to get them together. This musical is played with just a few props and costumes to decorate the intimate playing space at the Mill River Dinner Theatre. Its a perfect setting for this show, There are seven great actors bringing the story to life, and another actress as The Mute who plays to the audiences imagination. Book, music and lyrics by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt , this show is a must see musical masterpiece.
It is not surprising that The Fantasticks has been playing for 38 years Off Broadway. And did you know that the musical premiered when Dwight Eisenhower was president-- in a renovated horse stable and blacksmith's shop.?
The play opens with El Gallo played by Nishan Lawton, as the narrator and sometime participant, singing TRY TO REMEMBER, a lyrical piece that sets the theme of the show. Nishan not only sings beautifully, but conveys his messages and connects the players to the audience. When that happens, its magic!" He has a dying scene in the second act that is a show stopper! Lawton has been in theatre for over 5 years now, and performed in over 35 shows throughout RI. He has an excellent voice, and is currently studying voice lessons to fulfill a dream of becoming an opera singer. If the performance I witnessed last night was any indication of his dreams, I am sure that he will succeed. He played El Gallo with all the necessary ingredients ..and when you hear him sing it is sheer bliss.
We are introduced to Luisa played by Lisa Ziniti, who is the daughter of Bellomy . Lisa sings about life in the gentle number "Much More". A Sophomore at Bishop Feehan HS, she recently performed in the world premiere performance of Rage of the Heart, and traveled to Austria with the Franklin School for Performing Arts Youth Choir. She was last seen as Sister Mary Leo, in NUNSENSE.
Matt played by Mathew Camara enters and sings with Luisa "Metaphor". Matt also has impressive theatre credits...attended the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, where he enjoyed being on stage as "Jack" in "Into The Woods". Matt has a beautiful voice, but I like his facial expressions and body language. He makes you believe exactly what his lines are about, which is good acting.
His abduction scene was especially entertaining, and his physical presence and interaction with the other players was especially well executed. He seems to be a natural. I liked his scenes with Luisa, but he was delightful when he had to confront his father.
The comical team of Hucklebee played by Bill McMillan (Matt's father)- a gardener with a prune cutter in his hands much of the time and Bellomy played by Jim Whitaker(Luisa's father) - a button maker who gets nervous when the word money is mentioned, are a hilarious duo!. The dialogue between them is well delivered and not only do they play those lines, the action between them is enjoyable to watch. The number IT DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU PAY, with McMillan, Whittaker, and Lawton were one of my favorites. Bill has impressive credits too..studied theater at the Boston Conservatory of Music as well as with Philip Burton at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. He most recently played "Andrew" in Love Letters. Jim is returning to Mill River after years of absence from the stage. He was last seen as the sheriff in Oklahoma.
Some of the funniest moments of the show occur when Henry (the old actor) played by veteran actor Tony Annicone, enters with his sidekick, Mortimer , played by Doug Cameron.. Each one play different roles in the two act show, but both are hilariously funny, and when they are on stage, its non-stop laughter!. I was laughing so hard, my belly hurt at one point. The scene when Mortimer dies, is a show stopper. Cameron has the audience in stitches!!!. He was so funny! Annicone's antics as the old man is comical and his costuming is something you have to see to appreciate. Tony, as always does a magnificent job. And to see him come out of a small GI military style box is worth the price of admission!!!!. Its funny to see him go back in too!!. What fun!. Both Annicone and Cameron have been in theatre for many years. Tony has been seen thoughout the state in many theatre productions. Cameron wears many hats at Mill River, from stage craft to doorman.
The Mute, played by Rebekah Reid, adds a fresh shine to this production. her smile is infectious, and she involves the audience with her props - presenting a stunning stage picture, playing a wall, or tree, dropping tiny glittering raindrops......a pure stagecraft joy! Rebekah also has been involved in theater..as she is repeating this role which was done in 1996. A graduate of my alma mater, Providence College, Becky has stage managed, costumed, and done other jobs at Blackfriars Theatre. She is also a wonderful singer I am told, as she sang in Some Enchanted Evening last year.
Musical Director, David D'Amico provides the necessary musical quality to this production and his talent is evident in this production - a pure delight!. David is Music Director at Sacred Heart Church in North Attleboro, MA..
Lighting by Amy Thompson provides the necessary mood changes to this wonderful story. Amy specialized in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and has appeared in more than 300 performances with Cabot St, Playhouse and Ocean State Light Opera. She was last seen as Melissa in Love Letters on the Mill River Stage.
Chuck PetitBon directed this show...which he says is his all time favorite. Chuck has theatre credits too numerous to list here...but he has run a Youth Theatre Camp where he directed and taught the importance of all aspects of stage production.
With his lovely wife, Marcia, and son Greg, going to Mill River is not only a pleasant theatrical experience, but a connoisseurs delight!. The dinner includes stuffed baked chicken, roast potatoes, string beans, salad, coffee, and desert. which Chuck prepares.
Don't miss out on this wonderfully entertaining production of "The Fantasticks"!.
Mill River Dinner Theater(till 4 October)
The Polonaise, 499 High Street, CENTRAL FALLS, RI