Review: THE FANTASTICKS at Village Theatre

Village presents the enduring classic.

By: Mar. 16, 2024
Review: THE FANTASTICKS at Village Theatre
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Review: THE FANTASTICKS at Village Theatre
Hugh Hastings, Kawika Huston,
Miranda Antoinette, and Robert Shampain in
The Fantasticks at Village Theatre.
Photo credit: Auston James

Pop quiz, Dear Readers.  What is the world’s longest running musical?  No, it’s not “Phantom”, that’s the longest running Broadway musical.  But if we include Off-Broadway we get the longest run of 42 years and 17,162 performances with Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s “The Fantasticks”.  And while the current production at Village Theatre dragged a bit at times, this enduring classic still has some fun to offer.

We start with the dashing El Gallo (Michael Sharon), our narrator for the piece who explains that we’re faced with two lovers, Matt (Kawika Huston) and Luisa (Miranda Antoinette), separated by their feuding fathers, Hucklebee (Robert Shampain) and Bellomy (Hugh Hastings), and a large wall.  But all is not as it seems, as the dads are only pretending to fight to trick the kids into falling in love by defying their fathers.  To solidify things, the dads concoct a scheme to have a professional abductor, El Gallo, kidnap Luisa so Matt can rescue her.  Ah, but the course of true love never did run smooth. 

Director Adam Immerwahr has set this on a delightfully sparse and bare bones stage, designed by Parmida Ziaei.  So, the whole thing comes across as a travelling troupe unpacking their stories for us.  But the storytelling isn’t the only magic on stage as El Gallo repeatedly thrills with some wonderful illusions by Dendy.  And I must mention the other bit of magic on stage, Lisa Kwak as The Mute, who is the real starter for the show as she whimsically dances about setting up props or even becoming props herself.  Her opening antics roped me into this world beautifully, and then continued on like some otherworldly silent imp.

The show does suffer some pacing issues.  Partly due to being a show from a different era and partly the performers just needing to take some of the air out of their scenes, I found at times the show became a little over ponderous.  But then they’d do some magic or sing a classic tune and all would be right again.  And there are classic tunes aplenty such as, “Try to Remember”, “Soon It’s Gonna Rain”, and “They Were You”.  And the choreography from Katy Tabb and music direction from Tim Symons only took those tunes and made them even more wonderful.

Review: THE FANTASTICKS at Village Theatre
Anthony Curry, Miranda Antoinette,
Mark Emerson, and Michael Sharon in
The Fantasticks at Village Theatre.
Photo credit: Auston James

The cast is a delight.  Sharon is everything you want El Gallo to be, sexy, commanding, funny, and with a killer voice to manage the aforementioned “Try to Remember”.  The lovers, Huston and Antoinette, are very sweet together but at first I felt they were a bit too flat.  Then I saw the arc they managed and realized, the kids hadn’t grown up yet.  And both have fantastic voices.  Hastings and Shampain are endearing as the dads and nailed the comedy in their feuds (real or fake).  And then there were our major comic reliefs of Anthony Curry and Mark Emerson as hired players Henry and Mortimer.  These two not only injected some much needed doses of levity but were masters when they did.  Emerson’s death scene, in particular, had the audience reeling.  Now that’s two brilliant comic death scenes I’ve seen lately.  The first in “Something’s Afoot”.

The show is not a mind blower, but it is a delightful little romp that’ll leave you with a sweet little sigh.  And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give “The Fantasticks” at Village Theatre a somewhat dated but still worthwhile YAY-.  We can all use a little love magic these days, can’t we?

“The Fantasticks” performs at Village Theatre in Issaquah through April 21st before moving to their Everett location running April 27th through May 19th.  For tickets or information visit them online at www.villagetheatre.org.




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