We just got home from the final production of The Fantasticks at the Trinity Rep Company in Providence RI. The Fantasticks has long been my favorite musical play far beyond anything else I have ever seen. I was in it my junior year of high school and I have seen no less than 4 other times (once in Woodstock, VT, twice at the Sullivan St. Playhouse where it ran for 42 years, and once in Boston) and this was, without a doubt, my favorite of all of these productions.
The idea of the play is that the first half is a fantasy. A love story set in moonlight, soft focus, and romance. There is a heroic struggle and a happy ending. The second act is set in sunlight and is harsh reality. Hearts are broken, walls built, and, finally, a happy ending but one through true understanding, not childish fantasy. This production used magic (actual sleight-of-hand and people vanishing in a box magic) as the shifts and it worked splendidly. The parts of El Gallo/The Narrator and the Mute were so perfectly cast. Both had a wonderfully energetic, emotive style that was so engaging. You saw how much El Gallo cared about these four people and how it hurt him to hurt them when he had to. The Mute was a perfect reflection of the emotions on the stage. The blocking and choreography was just wonderful. The only downside for me was the fact that the Boy (Matt) was played by someone of lesser vocal ability which stood out like a sore thumb among the other more accomplished singers. Other than that, it was a truly marvelous production.
It’s been years since I’ve been to see a show anywhere and I hadn’t realized just how much I missed it.
What a wonderful evening.