Theater Review by Howard Steven Frydman
Play: THE FANTASTICKS
Theater: Ivoryton Playhouse
Music & Lyrics: Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones
Book by: Tom Jones
Director: Brian Feehan
It’s far out, its hip, it’s groovy, it’s FANTASTICK, and it’s a Ivoryton Playhouse happening! Shades of “Woodstock”- from all throughout New England, folks are “coming together” – even from my home base in the beautiful hamlet of Bloomfield, Connecticut, there is something comforting about driving through the outskirts of Ivoryton and finally reaching its heart – The Ivoryton Playhouse. For many, it’s a day planned either with a lawn picnic lunch or at a local eatery, photo with the theater’s well-worn wooden elephant and then standing by the vintage theater’s marquee designating its current production info and lastly making one’s way to the theater itself and what lies in jubilant wait. In this case the musical “The Fantasticks”, by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, which opens the 2018 season, directed and choreographed by Brian Feehan and starring the “way out” wonderful vocals of “the” David Pittsinger. See “The Fantasticks” – It’s outta sight” !!!
Someone once said to me if you see a musical once why see it again? – you know the music, the plot, the characters, go see something new. Well I’ll tell you three reasons why you should rethink that bummer bit of loco-NO-tion. Firstly, just like a good book – it’s fun to revisit with old characters even from the 60’s. Case in point- this wonderful rendition of “The Fantasticks”. As many of you are aware, the show was first performed “Off Broadway” in May, 1960 at the Sullivan Street Playhouse, and ran for 42 years and 17,162 performances, making it the world’s longest running musical. In fact it helped launch the careers of Jerry Orbach, Liza Minnelli, Elliott Gould, F. Murray Abraham, Glenn Close, Keith Charles, Kristin Chenoweth, Bert Convy, Eileen Fulton, and Elliott Gould. Reason two- the outstanding music by Harvey Schmidt and Lyrics by Tom Jones- there is no way you won’t be humming the lilting “Try to Remember” or “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” as you make your way home after the performance.
The third reason, Mr. David Pittsinger aka “The Voice” – whenever David is on stage- all eyes are on him- what a commanding figure and what a deep, profound, lavishly rich, spellbinding baritone – ie- WOW!!! Those in the know, have been fortunate to see this talented operatic singer at The Ivoryton in past productions including, Emile de Becque in South Pacific and as Don Quixote in “Man of La Mancha”- so I urge you now to see this most “happy” fella!!
Now for those of you who have not had the opportunity to see “The Fantasticks” in its 42 year run or may have indeed seen it every year for the past four decades- the tale is as simple and enchanting as falling in and out of Love itself. The genesis – a boy named Matt (Ryan Bloomquist) and girl named Luisa (Kimberly Immanuel) – how sweet – their two warring mothers Hucklebee (Patricia Schulman) and Bellomy (Carly Callahan) who order their children not to speak to each other – how downbeat. Please note that in the original production the feuding folks entailed fathers! Don’t tally, this is not a tale of woe as our narrator El Gallo (David Pittsinger) quickly muses – for in reality our two moms are indeed plotting – but they only war in the eventual thought that both their children will fall in love. Awwww!! Yet in the brightest of day and darkest of night, when truths exposed can love live on? Hmmm? I won’t tell! Additional cast includes the “old actor” Mortimer portrayed by Will Clark and his trusty sidekick Henry played by R. Bruce Connelly. Romance, memorable music and a chance to hear that glorious “Voice” of David Pittsinger – please make your way to Ivoryton Playhouse and to this endearing oh so classic production. Enjoy!!
For Ticket information please contact The Ivoryton Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting their website at http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.