The Fantasticks – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

A timeless classic of musical lore, “The Fantasticks” by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones is swinging into the Ivoryton Playhouse to celebrate young love until Sunday, April 8. Enjoyed in over 82 countries worldwide, this universal tale tells the story of two parents who try to manipulate the emotions of their children with unexpected and largely unwelcome results. Reverse physchology can backfire.

This longest running musical centers on teenagers Matt (Ryan Blomquist) and Luisa (Kimberly Immanuel) who are kept separate and forbidden to converse by their interfering mothers Hucklebee (Patricia Schuman) and Bellomy (Carly Callahan) who secretly want them to fall in love. By creating an imaginary feud between these neighbors and erecting a wall (Cory Candelet) to divide them, the two parents hope to magically bring them together.

Narrating the action and playing a major role in the plot is the mysteriously gallant El Gallo, embodied by David Pittsinger who takes on the role of a bandit, so Matt can rescue his princess Luisa and prove his love. When El Gallo is unveiled as part of a plot to deceive and impress Luisa, the pair of lovers, much like Romeo and Juliet, face the harsh realities of their mothers’ machinations. Matt rides off to the big city and encounters a bevy of difficulties, while Luisa fancies herself in love with El Gallo. A pair of cohorts of El Gallo’s arrive, Will Clark’s Mortimer and R. Bruce Connelly’s Henry, to advance the plot with comic complications, playing pirates and Indians and other characters..

Throughout the tale, the glorious music like “Try to Remember, “ “Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” “Round and Round” and the parents’ lament “Plant a Radish” are delightful. Directed and choreographed by Brian Feehan with a magical hand, the music is conducted by Jill Brunelle. For tickets ($50, seniors $45, students $22 and children $17), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Come see sixteen year old Luisa have her illusions about love shattered but, ultimately, restored so she can marry her prince Matt. All the while she learns the valuable lesson that “without a hurt the heart is hollow.”

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