The Carousel Dinner Theatre is now featuring the musical, the Fantasticks, through Feb. 24. The Fantasticks holds the record for the longest running off-Broadway musical with its 42 years of performances. One of the co-owners of the Carousel Dinner Theatre, Kurt Terrio, said the show featured at the theater is an exact replica of the Broadway version. One of the co-directors, Gina Turner, played Luisa in the off-Broadway production.
It’s a romantic comedy, for the most part, and is a story that sheds light on those shadowed expectations of love. Two fathers secretly set up their children: Luisa, a 16-year-old full of dreams and not much reality, and her neighbor, 20-year old Matt. The two men utilize reverse-psychology to face their children with one another. So, while Luisa and Matt are enraptured with the fantasy of being star-crossed lovers, they are indeed attracted to each other through proximity. But don’t tell either of them, for a love made from convenience is simply dull.
The musical transcends the dichotomies of moonlight and sunlight, of fantasy and reality, and of rising and falling.
The first half of the musical encompasses the moonlit hours in which love is brought to life. With the close of Act I, life for the Fantasticks is simply fantastic.
Act II depicts the falling from grace, when the honeymoon, so to speak, is over. Indeed, one of the pinnacle scenes is the beginning of Act II, in which the Fantasticks in their picture perfect life begin to get a bit tired of posing for the fantasy. The story is one of basic satisfaction.
“It’s a nice, little romantic play,” Terrio said.
As for the production, perhaps it was the air of the story, but it reflected a childlike feeling. In some ways, it was like watching a high school musical. The only instruments featured were the piano and the harp, just like the off-Broadway production.
The costumes didn’t necessarily blend very well and some were just plain juvenile. What the costumes and set lacked, however, the actors made up for.
The stage was riddled with pairs. Perhaps the two fathers, Huklebee (played by Tony White) and Bellomy (Shane Curtis Miller) were the most entertaining to watch. They portrayed an innocent mischief that warmed the heart.
Henry and Mortimer, played by Nick Turner and Ian Beutler, respectively, represented two vagabond actors who brought a bit of flare to the otherwise normal characters. Turner was especially good at eliciting a love for old Henry.
Amy Madden and Christian Nielsen acted as Luisa and Matt, respectively. Madden colored the stage with her strong voice and distinct facial expressions, while Nielsen exposed a range of acting abilities as he brought a 20-year-old boy through an adult transition. Mark Johnson (El Gallo) and Scott Wright (Mute) also graced the show with their comic touches.
Overall, the actors help to make this play a romantic Valentine’s Day treat. n