'Fantasticks' lives up to name
Scott! MAR has gone PC. (Musicals at Richter has gone Politically Correct.)
the season opener at the state's longest running outdoor summer theater in Danbury's
Richter Park, has somehow been deemed in need of a touch of misguided respectability.
Jones and Harvey Schmidt's small miracle of a musical now in its 40th year at
the Sullivan Street Theatre in New York's Greenwich Village is so sweet and beguiling
of nature that one can only ask: Who could it offend or corrupt?
you know the show, you're aware of the comic trio that sings of a planned abduction
in the name of young love the word "rape" is comically the focal point, but no
one for a moment conceives that offense to be an intended reality.
Someone at Richter
must have feared today's audiences would be offended, so the lyrics have been
rewritten to substitute the word "kidnap." It doesn't ruin the song, although
the new rhymes are a bit forced. It just seems a bit overprotective.
Will the same supposedly
impressionable audiences of Richter's next show, "Carousel," be misled into believing
Billy Bigelow's murderous robbery is just a teen-age prank?
curious business aside, the Richter production of "Fantasticks" is just about
right on every mark. It's well-sung, fleetly paced and, for a musical almost half-a-century-old,
score remains evergreen. While "Try to Remember" and "Soon It's Gonna Rain" are
the best remembered, you'll find "They Were You" just as musically rewarding.
humor and wisdom in almost every song. No wonder this is the world's longest-running
(music) and Jones (book and lyrics) based their musical on Edmund Rostand's "Les
Romantiques," and the story is timelessly simple and true: If love is to survive,
it must face the realities of life.
Richard L. Sanders has led his excellent cast through their paces without attempting
to oversentimentalize the story. There's mime, burlesque and some occasionally
spirited horseplay, but you know all that.
important is that this production of "The Fantasticks" provides a wonderful opportunity
to introduce young people to musical theater, even with its realistically cynical
plot is a story of young love and meddling parents that is part fairy tale and
part sour grapes. It makes its points about deception and illusion in a most blithe
role of the Narrator (El Gallo) is played with appropriate machismo by Brian Maher,
and the two young lovers are the appealing and talented singers Nikki Sanders
as The Girl and Christian Smythe as The Boy.
Fantasticks" provides four character actors a comic romp. John McMahon as The
Boy's Father and Donald Leona as The Girl's Father could easily be the Abbott
and Costello of over-the-back-fence neighbors.
hammy actors they're the ones you always watch no matter how bad they are Barry
Corn as Henry, the Old Actor, and Zach Sanders as Mortimer, The Man Who Dies,
chew up the scenery to good effect.
is a poignant air to all four characters when the laughter dies down.
show is mostly on target, although I think the amplification could have been bumped
up a notch and the erratic lighting should be remedied.
my fears that this "small" show might be swallowed up on the big stage at Richter
proved unwarranted, and the musical accompaniment by Carl Anderson at the keyboard
and Jennifer Sayre on harp was first rate.
Fantasticks" continues Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8:30 p.m. through July
3 at Musicals at Richter, Richter Park, 100 Aunt Hack Road, Danbury. Tickets are
$14, seniors $12, and students and children $10. Grounds open at 7:15 for picnicking.
Lawn chairs are available by reservation. Call (203) 748-6873.