THE FANTASTICKS AT PB DRAMAWORKS IS 52 YEARS YOUNG TO EVERYONE’S ENJOYMENT
WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Time is supposed to change everything. Wrong!
It was in the Spring of 1960 – 52 years ago – when the musical The Fantasticks opened off-Broadway at the Sullivan Street Theatre . It became the longest running production of any kind in the history of the American theatre.—17,162 performances. It was a simple production which wowed the critics and its audience alike.
This week, The Fantasticks was revived as the summer production at Palm Beach Dramaworks. Now, there is nothing new about that. After all, it has played in high school auditoriums, and theatrical venues in every state and every nation — with more than 11,000 productions worldwide over five decades. And, guess what?? It is still charming because of its simplistic sensitivity plus its soul of sophistication.
Time has remained kind to this musical wonder. In the right hands, it is a delight,
That does not necessarily mean that every production of The Fantasticks automatically becomes spectacular entertainment. In lesser hands or novices, it can be a disaster, a boring couple of hours despite the memorable music of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt and its tender love story .
Fortunately, Palm Beach Dramaworks” director J. Barry Lewis put together a talented ensemble with stage presence and rich voices for an A-One production to tell this wonderful tale about a young man and a young woman whose love is tested and triumphs. It is Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending and a pocketful of delightful music – Try to Remember, Soon It’s Gonna Rain, Plant A Radish,They Were You
If you’ve seen The Fantasticks before, it won’t matter. Seeing this production is like watching a new show, thanks to astute direction, a cast with golden voices who seem to be having a good time in their roles, plus the artristry of musical director Craig D. Adams, at the piano with an assist from harpist kay Kemper
But, as good as pianist Adam s is at getting one’s attention, it is the quality of the singing by the talented cast which makes this Fantasticks so unforgettable. Hunky Jim Ballard turns his Narrator gig into a memorable moment as he kicks off the music as a baritone-headliner singing Try To Remember. He appears made to play this role.
As the two young lovers – Jennifer Molly Bell and Jacob Heimer – both display rich voices and believability as actors seeking realism. Their duets are emotionally fulfilling.
The rest of the cast, as well, is played to perfection: Barry J. Tarallo and Cliff Goulet as the two fathers who plot the romance, South Florida favorites Dennis Creghan and Tangi Colombel who appear to having ball hamming up their roles as aging actors, and Cliff Burgess as a mute who becomes a prop-master, without saying a single line of dialog.
It is the cast which beckons recall of the original production (yes, I was there!). However, it is the technical team which also must be praised: John Hall’s lighting, costumer Brian O’Keefe; and for the simple but effective set –Michael Amico, and sound by Rich Szczublewski,in particular
The Fantasticks will continue to endear itself to its fans through Aug 5. Call 561-514-4042 for tickets,