A Truly Fantastic Show: The Fantasticks Review
Photo by: Sherlyn Ong
By: Sarah Surgeoner
From the first moment the actors of “The Fantasticks” enter the empty Jones Theatre, they bring set pieces, a painted floor piece, and a cast of characters that literally and figuratively set the stage for the colorful adventure that is equal parts humorous and sincere.
“The Fantasticks” follows the story of two families, led originally by two fathers but led by a mother (Aly Oliphint) and father (Brock Boudoin) in this production, who fake a family feud in order to manipulate their son and daughter into falling in love and getting married. The children Matt (Kevin Bryant) and Luisa (Avery Rogers) take the bait, declaring their mad love for each other in beautiful melodies and harmonies.
In order to resolve their fake feud, the parents stage an abduction of Luisa and enlist the help of the sometimes narrator El Gallo (Brandon Baker) and the humorous acting duo of Henry (William Soller) and Mortimer (Christian Aderholt). Though the plan initially seems to work out, the lies quickly unravel, leading to the boy and girl’s separation and journeys of self-discovery to find the somber truths of the world.
The musical featured great vocals by every member of the cast. Baker’s rendition of “Try to Remember” that bookended the show was a mixture of beautiful, haunting, and reflective.
The set, from the initial entry to of the colorful floor covering to the strings of lights hanging like a chandelier above the stage, worked in tandem with the actors to tell the chaotic, colorful, and creative story inside the world of The Fantasticks.
Clever placement of certain stage elements and dramatic changes in lighting helped to lead the audience through the dramatic twists and turns the plot takes and was aided by the almost omnipresent Mute (William Swift) and Handiman (Alejandra Navarro) who both worked to bring the storyline and set together.
The costuming paid homage to the traditionally Hispanic nature of the musical and included swirling capes and skirts that provided interesting movement to the production.
Throughout the musical, bursts of different colored confetti representing tears, passion, and snow enhanced the emotions portrayed onstage. In the end, the conflict is resolved but the confetti still covering the floor acts as a reminder of everything that had occurred and that the journey to our own happy ending is never easy or simple.