REVIEW: The Fantasticks By Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt
By Carl F. Gause | Ink19.com :: Archikulture Columnist
Number 49 - 2005 Fall Colors Edition
Directed by Pat Braillard
Direction by Timothy D. Turner
Staring Steven Lane, Karla Sue Schultz, Robert Berliner
Ghost Light Productions as Studio Theater, Orlando, FL
Published: Monday, September 29, 2005
Velvet voices on a cardboard stage - that's the best way to sum up this low tech, highly skilled production of America's sometimes most favorite musical. On a set intended to be as cartoonish and 'stagy' as possible, Matt (Berliner) falls in love with the girl next door, Louisa (Schultz). Hormones played a part, as did the clever manipulation of parents Hucklebee (Juliann Snyder) and Bellamy (Cara L Moccia). Hopeless romantics, they arrange for Louisa's kidnap by narrator and itinerant rapist El Gallo (Lane). This allows Matt to save the girl and end the pseudo feud that parents put up to manipulate their children. After intermission, Matt and Louisa are settled in, and immediate canít stand each other, so he takes to the road as El Gallo romances and abandons Louisa. Not until they both mature can the two find compatibility beyond raging lust.
Simple as the plot sounds, the characters are even simpler, with little depth written into their lines. What this show stands and fall on is the music and the implementation of the persona, and the crucial pivot is the opening Ballad "Try To Remember". With Steven Lane's commanding voice, this song takes wings and you can forgive almost any plot weaknesses with this suave el Gallo hanging around. Director Braillard takes a few liberties with the score, dropping the silly "Plant a Radish, Get a radish" number, and reducing "Curious Paradox" to the very few lines it deserves. What's left gets ravishing treatment, with Matt and Louisa's voices a beautiful pairing. When not singing, the two can make googoo eyes to the point of embarrassing the audience, yet when their relation sours, they effortlessly slide from adoration to abhorrence.
Love without maturity is like condoms without sex - they look funny and mysterious and you want to try them on, but there's really no point. It takes some seasoning for a couple to get beyond the lust and settling for 30 years of car payments and hanging drapes. But when you get their, it's nice to remember the earlier times, they will never come again.
For more information, please visit www.ghostlightonstage.com
Carl F Gauze is a wealthy but reclusive student of the arts, semi-retired from a stellar career as a potluck dinner caterer. His real fortune derives from his great grandfather, Herman S. Gauze, who invented the sterile surgical dressing in Zurich shortly before the First World War. Because of Switzerland's neutrality and the obvious humanitarian uses of this bandage during the tragedy, he amassed a vast fortune selling the dressing to both sides. Carl refuses to eat mayonnaise, sour cream, or anything called "secret sauce". If they won't say what's in it, they can keep it.
Copyright © 2005 Ink19.com