The Fantasticks Review - It Never Gets Old!

THE FANTASTICKS, a phenomenal musical by Tom Jones (book and lyrics) and Harvey Schmidt (music), is back and better than ever. It’s a story that proves that growing older doesn’t necessarily mean growing up: “We must all die a bit before we grow again.”

 

Kurt Andrew Hansen as El Gallo - Photo by Christopher J. Thume

There’s a quiet little town somewhere, and in that town are two neighboring families. In one house live the innocent 16-year-old Luisa (played by Valerie Rose Lohman on the night the play was reviewed) and her mother Bella (Lisa Stanley). In the house next door live 20-year-old Matt (Michael J. Marchak) with his father Hucklebee (John Ross Clark). Between their side-by-side houses is a high wall, and that’s not an accident. These two young people are the children of two feuding households and are not permitted to even speak to each other. There’s nothing like forbidden fruit to entice two restless teens - what you expect is a foregone conclusion. It’s Romeo and Juliette all over again.

 

John Ross Clark as Hucklebee, Michael Marchak as Matt, Shayne Ga brielle as Luisa, and Lisa Stanley as Bella - Photo by Christopher J. Thume

However, Luisa’s mother and Matt’s father seem to have worked out a little scheme of their own. They are hoping that their kids fall in love but realize that pushing them together just won’t work. They decide that keeping them apart is the way to go - and so they manufacture a feud and build a high wall. Enter El Gallo (Kurt Andrew Hansen), hired by these two schemers to aid in getting their children together. As it turns out, El Gallo is a lot more machiavellian than either parent - and has some plans of his own. There’s a second issue at work too. These kids may be crazy about each other, but they also long for a little excitement and some new experiences in their humdrum life. Maybe those experiences will be fun - and maybe not: “Without a hurt, the heart is hollow.”

 

Michael Marchak and Kurt Andrew Hansen - Photo by Christopher J. Thume

The musical is dotted with some lovely music, including old favorites like “Try to Remember.” The current production has retained “It Depends on What You Pay” and “The Rape Ballet” but is quick to explain to audiences that “rape” in this tale is derived from early English usage and simply means “to kidnap or carry off” or “to abduct” instead of sexual assault, the more contemporary definition. 

Sean York as Mortimer, Jerry Hoffman as Henry, and Kurt Andrew Hansen as El Gallo - Photo by Christopher J. Thume

 

Director and choreographer Lisaun Whittingham does a great job of getting the actors to live in dreams and in reality at the same time. The talented cast rejuvenates this timeless show with energy and nostalgia. Musical director William A. Reilly and the production crew bring the production to life.

 

THE FANTASTICKS runs through June 5, 2016, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. The Crown City Theatre is on the campus of St. Matthew’s Church, located at 11031 Camarillo Street, North Hollywood, CA 91602, Tickets are $30 (general admission) and $20 (students and seniors). For reservations, call 818-605-5685 or go online at www.crowncitytheatre.com.

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