Review by: Linda Mackenzie
I recently had the pleasure of attending a Saturday matinee of “The Fantasticks” at the intimate ‘Off Broadway’ location of the Snapple Theater Center. The production was charming, witty, well done and did not disappoint.
The story is a whimsical twist on girl meets boy and fathers plotting them all into funny situations that never seem to turn out as planned. Throw in a charming ‘have to love him’ hired villain and a pair of humorous side kicks who literally pop in and out of scenes with slapstick fun and fumbling and the story proceeds through twists and turns into a happy ending.
The cast was well chosen for this fun filled musical. Samantha Bruce, as ‘The Girl’ gave a wonderful performance with fantastic vocal range and credible acting skills. Her ‘fainting falls’ were so realistic that the audience stretched out of their seats gasping with concern every time she did one. ‘The Narrator/Hired Villain’ was played by Dave Schoonover whose voice singing the old hit song ‘Try To Remember’ had several people in the audience discreetly wiping tears from their eyes. Pierce Cravens as ‘The Boy’ gave a performance that had you rooting for him throughout the whole show and ‘The Fathers’ played by Ray DeMattis and Kevin R. Free, evidently were exceptionally pro actors that were the glue for the whole performance. Providing comic relief throughout, another pair of obviously talented actors were MacIntyre Dixon playing ‘The Old Actor’ and Michael Nostrand playing ‘Mortimer- The Man Who Dies.’ They got the laughs exactly when they were supposed to. Last, but not least, Rita Markova as ‘The Mute’ a.k.a. ‘The Wall’ leant a fun and yet functional element needed for the success of the whole performance.
I must say you never missed a full orchestra because of the excellent musical skills of Robert Felstein at the piano, who was also the Musical Director, and Maria Banks at the Harp.
In conclusion, the ‘below the line’ costume design by Ed Wittstein, Lighting Design by Mary Jo Dondlinger, Sound Design by Domonic Sack and Musical Staging by Janet Wilson all worked well to add to a seamless performance. I must say, for a visitor from California, it was quite a lovely way for me to spend a Saturday afternoon experiencing ‘The Fantasticks.’ Thank you all for a great performance.