Palm Canyon Theatre Presents “The Fantasticks” The Musical

Jack Lyons Theatre and Movie Critic

“The Fantasticks” has been billed as the world’s longest running musical, with 17,162 performances chalked up to its credit and still counting.  Since 1960, when the charming “little musical that could” debuted off-Broadway, there has been a production of the Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt musical performing somewhere in New York City for forty-two years (the final curtain came down January 13, 2002). Over 11,000 productions have been given in more than 3000 cities, in all fifty states, and in more than sixty-seven foreign countries worldwide.  In short: It’s a Fantastick! show (pun definitely intended) that never fails to win over its audiences.  Now its come to the Palm Canyon Theatre (PCT), Palm Springs, for a brief engagement.

     Unless you’ve been living wholesale mlb jerseys in at a cave for the last 60 years, the story is short and sweet, and can be summed up simply, but jesień! compellingly, as a “boy-meets-girl/boy-loses-girl/-boy-finds-girl” love story, set to Palm music and lyrics that audiences wholesale nfl jerseys of all 4 ages can understand.  One doesn’t cheap nfl jerseys become the world’s longest running musical without connecting with the hearts, attīstības minds, and memories of audiences the world over.

     I have seen eight different productions of the musical over the years.  Each director and cast bring their own unique skill-sets and talents to their production, and each show shines a special light on the story.  In director Scott Smith’s production two bright new talents are featured in the PCT show:  Anthony Meyer as Matt, the young boy, and Shania Knox, as Luisa, the young girl.  There is an immediate onstage chemistry that appears between these two attractive, likable, and talented singer/actors that says we like you and we’re pulling for you to succeed as a couple.

     The play is also blessed with a solid ensemble cast that features local desert favorites: Tom Warrick as Hucklebee, the Boy’s father and Jerome Elliott as Bellomy, the Girl’s father.  Both Warrick and Elliott are seasoned pros and know how to get the most out of their roles with charm and skill.  They’re a delight to watch.

     Lyric baritone, actor and director Clifford R. Plummer plays the rakish rogue, El Gallo, a charmer of young girls who is asked to help stage and execute a plan (for money, naturally) to ensure that the Boy and the Girl will fall in love (with both parents’ permission) and marry each other.  El Gallo enlists the services of two old actor/friends: Peter Mins as Henry, an old classical actor, and Terry Huber as Mortimer (known for his ability to “die” on stage), to help him in an elaborate “abduction” plan cooked up by the two fathers.  El Gallo, acting as both the play’s Narrator and perceived Villain, gets an opportunity to woo Luisa, be defeated by Matt in a mock sword fight, act dashing and charming, and in fact he is an honorable gentleman who gets to sing “Try To Remember”, one of the most memorable songs in show biz history. Assisting in all these on-stage shenanigans is Olivia Goudeau as The Mute.  She may not utter a word during the play, but her graceful movements, lovely face, flashing eyes, and beautiful smile speak onstage volumes.

    The technical credits at the Palm Canyon Theatre are always first-rate.  Musical Director David McLaughlin has chosen his musical selections well.  The actor/singers, look and feel very comfortable working from tracks.  Set/Light Designer J.W. Layne, provides the cast with a functional two-level, nicely lighted, stage-platform that allows Choreographer Se Layne the space she needs to let the actors move about smoothly and confidently. 

      Director Smith has a very sweet and crowd-pleasing musical on his hands.  However, is it possible that the timing and pacing in El Gallo’s scenes with Luisa and with Matt is a tad too slow?  It is a musical comedy after all.  The poignant and tender moments in the piece will take care of themselves if we don’t lose the pacing and fluidity of the story as it moves to its conclusion… just a thought.

     “The Fantasticks” performs on Thursdays at 7 pm, on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Candy Sundays at 2 pm through December 20th.  Don’t miss this winning musical production.  Tickets and reservations may be obtained voelt by calling the Box Office at 760-323-5123.

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