Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Fantasticks"

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entire contents copyright 2002 by Tony Annicone

"The Fantasticks"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Community Players current show is "The Fantasticks", the longest running musical ever. The show is about a boy and girl who love each other but are kept apart by their meddlesome fathers. The fathers hire a professional abductor called El Gallo. He hires two people to help with his project, one is an Old Shakespearean actor and the other is an Indian who does dying scenes. The other character in this show is the mute who plays a wall and gathers and gives out props. Direction is by Brian Mulvey with music direction by Joseph Carvalho who also plays the piano for the show.

Since this play was written in May of 1960, the world is a totally different place since then. What was new and innovative then is trite now. Children in 2003, don't study the French romances, Shakespeare's plays and sonnets and poetry as they did in the 1950' s and 60's. The script deals with all of these things in great depth and the audience wonders what is it all about? Also the abduction is referred to as a rape in the show and there is also a beautiful song sung about the different kinds of rape. In 2003, the audience is uncomfortable during this song and it isn't as enjoyable as it was in the more innocent time period of 1960. The one part of the script that still stands the test of time is when Henry and Mortimer appear from a tiny box on the stage. Their dialogue is written broadly and farcically and their time on the stage is as relevant today as it was the day it was first performed. I felt this way when I first saw this show in 1979 and when I performed in it as Henry in it in 1996 and 1998.

With all this said, there are three vocalists who do incredible work in this show. Don Blais as El Gallo, James Fernandes as Matt and Christy McCarthy as Luisa. Their voices soar in their musical numbers. Don's in "Try to Remember" and "I Can See It" with James while James' in "Metaphor" and "Soon It's Gonna Rain" with Christy and Christy's in "Much More" and "They were You" with James. This latter number is my favorite song in the show. (The tempo needs to be a tad quicker because it is a love song not a dirge but this was the director's option for the number.) The meddlesome fathers are played by Lanny Slusher and Eric Barbato with the huge role of Mute handled by Janet Barton. There were some blocking and lighting snafus on opening night which will be corrected. The most outstanding performers in this show are John Moniz as Henry and Anita Cipolla as Mortimer. From the moment they enter through the box, they steal every scene they are in. John misquotes Shakespeare and lapses into his past prowess as an outstanding Hamlet and Romeo in his youth. His Julius Caesar misquoted line is hilarious as are all his madcap lines. Anita pantomimes shooting herself with a fake bow and arrow and dies a very funny death scene. She uses a cockney accent that is humorous for her role. She and John are hysterical as they try to kidnap Luisa during the abduction. Kudos to John and Anita for excellent work in this show.

To catch "The Fantasticks" in Pawtucket, just call 726-6860.

"The Fantasticks" (28 March - 13 April)
Jenks Junior High School, Division Street, PAWTUCKET, RHODE ISLAND
1 (401) 726-6860

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide