Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review: "The Fantasticks" at The Majestic Theater

The Majestic Theater of West Springfield, Massachusetts is currently featuring “The Fantasticks”, which runs through May 23rd. This unique musical, noted as much for its longevity on Broadway as for its simple staging, launched the careers of many young actors and actresses in its record-breaking 42-year run.

The simple allegorical story, featuring elements of traditional musical theatre, commedia dell'arte and vaudevillian gusto, begins and ends with the iconic “Try to Remember”, sung here by William Thomas Evans, who plays The Narrator and sometimes bandit, El Gallo. He has a smooth and reasonant baritone, and masterfully commands the stage with his voice and his sly comedic timing.

Emily Reed plays The Girl, and P.J. Adzima plays The Boy, who fall in love. Both Ms. Reed and Mr. Adzima are high school students, but display mature talent that promises a bright future. Ms. Reed’s high soprano, with a delightful vibratto effect, adds a distinctive sound to the otherwise all-male cast. Mr. Adzima’s dark-rimmed glasses, his haircut, and street clothes drew one in immediately to the era of the early 1960s that gave birth to “The Fantasticks.” His infectious grin seems innocence captured.

Mitch Giannunzio is The Boy’s Father, and James Emery is The Girl’s Father, at times comrades in a plot to trick their children into marrying, and other times enemies. The gentlemen play well off each other, as well as harmonizing, sharing with each other their frank irritation and expaseration with their children.

John Thomas Waite stands out at The Old Actor, a flamboyant, befuddled thespian, whose faithful sidekick is Roger Patnode as deadpan The Man Who Dies. Their slapstick episodes brought laughter from the audience, and also much guessing as to how they made their entrances and exits from a trunk.

Tom Knightlee plays The Mute, deftly on hand in all scenes to provide props and create the mood, or a wall, when needed.

The show is directed by Rand Foerster, with Amy Roberts-Crawford as the musical director. Set designer of the traditional minimalist set invoking a traveling actor’s wagon was Greg Trochlil. Costumes, particularly effective and evocative from pirate costumes to Shakepearan ensembles, to the color combinations of the fathers and their children, were by Elaine Bergeron.

For more on The Masjetic Theater and this delightful production, have a look at this website.

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