Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

April 28, 2010

The Fantasticks

Majestic Theater, West Springfield, MA
through May 23, 2010
by Jennifer Marshall

"The Fantasticks" began off-Broadway in 1960, offering 17,162 performances; by far the longest-running musical of all time. This delightful, simply told tale is about young love and romanticism and how those feelings must be tempered, often by deceit. It's laced with good humor and sung with unforgettable tunes, including the classic "Try to Remember."

The Majestic has once again triumphed by including this classic in its season. Under the direction of Rand Foerster and performed on a minimalist set designed by Greg Trochlil, this well-cast production amuses and humbles its receptive audience from the opening tableau. Enter the Narrator/El Gallo, played by William Thomas Evans, whose dark presence commands the respect of the audience and fellow cast mates. With a debonair stature and romantic vocals, Evans is believably able to seduce and win favor of the young Luisa (Emily Reed). Reed has the requisite acting ability to portray a silly, romantic girl accompanied by an excellent soprano voice. Matt (P.J. Adzima) assumes the role of the innocent with calm and warmth, and an awkwardness that only comes with first love. Adzima's vocals are able to shine in Act II as he matures from boy to man. The young lovers never overshadow each other.

The Fathers (Mitch Giannunzio and James Emery) are equally convincing, manipulative, and quirky. Additionally complimentary were their harmonies in "Never Say No," which enlightens the audience as to their scheme to make their children fall in love. Of necessary mention is the Mute (Tom Knightlee) who never falters in the roles of wall, rain, and snow. Although this role doesn't give Knightlee much chance to shine, he appears to have completely surrendered to the poetry and the loveliness of this musical.

Kudos go to the orchestra, under the musical direction of Amy Roberts-Crawford. The well blended team is solid and in perfect synch with the singers - a task too often failed.

The Majestic's performance of "The Fantasticks" leaves the audience remembering their first kiss; their first love; and that first scary, unknown, amazing feeling that can only happen in a forest in September.