A “Fantasticks” Spectacle Indeed
When a show moves into the 20,000 performance range, there is no doubt regarding its popularity and acceptance. It truly becomes a legend, like The Fantasticks, which is the world’s longest running musical and even if you are not much of a theatre person, missing a live performance of this caliber is a crime!
The simplistic backdrops
The USP of the show is its “old wine in a new bottle” format of boy meets girl with a fresh style of storytelling. The Narrator and other cast speak to the audience directly throughout the duration of the play. The small, simple stage with a bench, a chair, a trunk and a sheet displaying logo of the show, makes up the entire setting. Pierce Cravens is amazing as the Mute and wall that fills up all visual voids. The music is great, especially the customary “Try to Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” by Harvey Schmidt. The two-member orchestra with Robert Felstein at the piano and Maria Banks at the harp do a great job as well.
The present cast comprises 8 members with MacIntyre Dixon, turning in a brilliant performance as The Old Actor with his charm and persona that combines traits of being world weary and flamboyant at the same time. The Man Who Dies, whose forte lies in faking deaths using create methods has excellent timing, which is augmented by his spontaneous personality – Michael Nostrand more than does justice to his role.
The crafty co-conspirators, the two fathers – Don Sharkey and Kevin R. Free, have powerful chemistry, which can be experienced first-hand on the stage. Their duets deserve a special mention as they are infused with modern musical comedy finesse and vaudevillian style. Michael Sharon as the Narrator bewitches with his dimple grin and cunning mannerisms. As for the protagonists, The Boy and The Girl played by Max Crumm and Samantha Bruce respectively set the stage on fire with their romance and witty comedy. Bruce’s sincerity shines through, as does her wonderful voice, while Crum has an off-handed, low-key delivery and a nice singing voice. Overall, you root for these characters, even though you are already aware of how their story concludes.
The musical does have its off moments when its mysticism becomes slightly self-aware, but this can be attributed to the show being conceptualized in the early 60s, when everything was drastically different. Nevertheless, you should definitely watch this iconic show at the Snapple Theatre in New York.