by Lorie Lewis Ham
If you are looking for a feel good show that the whole family can enjoy, then head over to the Bonner Auditorium at the Fresno Art Museum and see The Fantasticks, presented by StageWorks Fresno through April 22.
The Fantasticks was written by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, and the off Broadway production ran for 42 years. This show tells the story of two neighboring fathers-Hucklebee (Mark Standriff) and Bellomy (Joel Abels)- who trick their children, Luisa (Meg Clark) and Matt (Aaron Lowe), into falling in love by pretending to feud. However, things do not turn out as they had planned–there are several missteps and lessons learned along the way. The show opens with a mysterious bandit, El Gallo (Terry Lewis), singing, “Try to Remember.” He then begins to narrate the plot. The story also involves two bumbling actors who pretend to be a part of a fake kidnapping-Henry (Greg Ruud) and Mortimer (Logan Cooley). Lastly, we have a Mute (Steven Weatherbee) who takes on many different roles, including being the wall between the houses.
This is a fun musical with plenty of laughter, love, life lessons, and some lovely music. Terry Lewis was funny and charming as probably the most complex character of the show, the bandit El Gallo. He also has a wonderful voice, and his song, “Try to Remember,” was my favorite. Joel Abels and Mark Standriff are hilarious as the fathers and play off each other perfectly. Meg Clark and Aaron Lowe were winsome as the innocent young lovers, and both have lovely voices. Greg Ruud’s ability to pull off physical comedy is top notch, and he and Logan Cooley played well off each other as well. What Steven Weatherbee could express as the Mute without a single word was impressive and hilarious! Add to all of this Tim Fletcher on piano and Laura Porter on harp and you have a delightful show in every way. The circus set and costumes were also a nice touch. Kudos to director J. Daniel Herring for putting all the pieces together so well.
So if you are looking for something fun for the whole family, don’t miss The Fantasticks on stage at the Bonnor Auditorium, 2233 North 1st Street, Fresno, CA. Tickets can be purchased on their website.
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