"...Everyone Is Entitled To My Opinion." ~Madonna

Friday, August 3, 2012

THEATER: The Fantasticks

“Without a hurt, the heart is hollow” is not only a meaningful line from the song “Try to Remember”, but a summary of the lesson from THE FANTASTICKS, the play currently running in the Cabaret at Millbrook Playhouse. I have lost count of how many productions of this play I have seen, so I truly appreciated some of the original touches that director David Winitsky added.

Casting Josh Houghton as El Gallo was a decision that I had questioned. Josh was last seen as Snoopy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and the two roles certainly require different approaches. His El Gallo was more cynical than threatening, more "what fools these mortals be”. This role also proved that not only can Josh dance and sing, but he can act.

Chandler Reeves and Cameron Perry added to my original impressions of their talent; both have exceptional voices and stage presence. Watching them grow from the young naive lovers to the young man and woman who have had their eyes opened to a less innocent world was a tribute to their acting. The director kept it simple and believable.

The veteran actors, Richard Guido and Ted Cockley, were perfectly cast as Hucklebee and Bellomy, the fathers. Those of us who have been regulars at Millbrook were eagerly waiting for their duet, “Plant a Radish”.  It did not disappoint.

I was also waiting for Mortimer, listed in most play programs as “the man who dies” to, well, die. Remy Germinario made use of not only the whole stage but some of the other actors as well to finally give his last breath.  This death scene proves once again that there are no small parts in theatre.

There is not much more that can be said about Frank Franconeri that I have not already said. His handling of the role of Henry showcased the character actor that lurks in Frank. Clever Frank even worked in a plug for his part in I’ll Be Back Before Midnight. For those of you who have not had a chance to see Frank without his outlandish character makeup, he is extremely good looking. A leading man role should be in his future; ah, but then we would miss the off- the- wall- fun parts that he does so well.

The duet “I Can See It” was particularly enjoyable. Josh and Cameron were able to pull the best out of each other. I also loved Chandler’s checkered tights. Sometimes it is something that subtle that sets the mood of a play.

 I did feel that some good lines got lost especially during “It Depends on What You Pay”. At times the piano was a little loud and sometimes it seemed to be the actor’s position on stage. Speaking of the piano, Jad Bernardo did a stellar job. The piano is almost a soloist in its own right in THE FANTASTICKS, the music is that familiar.

THE FANTASTICKS will close on August 12, thus ending the summer season at Millbrook. Oh, but wait, Lend Me a Tenor will return for one week—August 16 – August 19 in the Cabaret. Plus, the Theatre Camp will be doing their performance of Seussical, Jr. on the Main Stage August 10 and 11.
Ticket and time information can be found by calling 570-748-8083 or checking their web site, www.millbrookplayhouse.org.

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