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BWW Reviews: Enjoying the Summer Love of THE FANTASTICKS at Theatre UCF

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THE FANTASTICKS boasts a claim of being the world's longest running musical. It is also a musical for musical enthusiasts. Though the plot of boy and girl fall in love seems simple enough, first-time audience members may be confused by the intrusive breaks of the fourth wall. The songs and comedy are worth the trip.

The boy and the girl are separated by a wall, but somehow fall in love. It all may seem forbidden, but things aren't always as they seem. The boy, Matt, is older and more educated, yet falls illogically head over heels for Luisa. Luisa is a dreamy 16-year old, who fantasizes about her future. The feuding parents seem to disapprove of their children's dreamy state of mind, but it is revealed in the clever song and dance number "Never Say No" that it was their intention all along. To fix the trouble with the wall, the parents hire a skeezy abductor and a few bandits for Matt to overcome and save Luisa. And they live happily ever after, at least until the sun comes up.

As the narrator and abductor, El Gallo, Hunter Curry is a breakout star. His deep baritone voice was immediately breathtaking. As his voice filled the house it seemed disproportionate to his body, but amazing nonetheless. As El Gallo, Curry took on a mysterious and exotic feel mixing Puss-in-Boots with Captain Hook.

THE FANTASTICKS has a great score with music by Harvey Schmidt and book and lyrics by Tom Jones. Song like "Try to Remember," originally popularized by TV and Theatre legend Jerry Orbach, and "Soon It's Gonna Rain" fit the casts vocal ability. In fact, the best parts were the musical numbers, which truly allowed the cast to flex their musical theater muscles.

Salvatore Vieira as Matt, and Leigh Green as Luisa are cute, but mindless. There was more chemistry between El Gallo and Matt, and Luisa and El Gallo, than their intended matches. Though Green and Vieira beautiful singing voices, their characters are whiny and impetuous. Matt and Louisa's parents played by Earl Weaver and Tara Snyder are a joy to watch. Though they pretend to be feuding, Weaver and Snyder perfectly complement each other's style.

Devan Seaman as the Mute had great facial and body expressions. She is part stage scenery and part prop master, combined with random cast member. Seaman gets a workout every show climbing the ladder to the top portion of the set, no less than 15-times. Henry (Tyler Houck) and Mortimer (Jean-Michel Rousseau) are strange characters whose sole purpose is to make the audience laugh. Come early for some pre-show improv.

Directed by Be Boyd, THE FANTASTICKS runs through September 1, 2013 at Theatre UCF's mainstage. For the first time, you can bring your beverages into the theater. For tickets and more information, please visit http://theatre.cah.ucf.edu/events.php?id=2218.

Photo Credit: Erin Lartonoix


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