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October 23, 2017

10/11/2017 12:28:00 PM
"Fantasticks" are great

Yes. It is worth the drive to Langley to see three very good teen actors and a good supporting cast in “The Fantasticks.” Annika Hustad, as Luisa, in particular, has an expressive face ranging from naive cuteness to cynical weariness. Her voice is equally impressive.
Liam Henry (El Gallo) brings a deep voice and a quiet bandit’s bravado to his role.
Austin Moorehouse’s Matt pairs well with his peers, especially in the duet “I can See It” with El Gallo.
The supporting cast are fine elders. The dads plot, thinking they can control the future, but their tempting fate leaves them initially poorer for their efforts. Henry and Mortimer, the weary actors, are wonderful in their waning ambition. Watch out for intimations of Shakespeare.
The mute is a rambunctious Tinkerbell, with great timing. Not only does she flutter into every scene, assisting in or mimicking the action, her hand clapping accentuates every slap and punch.
The quality of this production is exquisite. As you, and then the actors enter, see the Maypole, the actors’ dressed as minstrels, the harp (!) and applaud the team designing the set, costumes, makeup and music. The glitter in everyone’s hair and their modest, accented painted faces signals our invitation to the realm of fantasy and story. You will not be disappointed.
This is a coming of age story, a story of first love, a story of youthful dreams and the reality of adulthood. Fathers need to take their teens. Teens need to tell their fathers to take them.
The story is not new, hence the renaissance era costuming, and is universal: this play is popular all over the world. Teens are innocent. Teens think they know everything. Teens think they can outwit their parents. Parents think they can outwit their children. Problems, pain and sorrow are good for everyone, though growing up is hard and hurts.
And then there is the music:13 songs and the reprise. So go.
The book and lyrics are brought into the 20th century by Tom Jones (no not that one); Harvey Schmidt wrote the music. The play opens and closes with “Try to Remember,” one of American musical theater’s most iconic numbers. Director Elizabeth Herbert and Voice Coach Nancy Nolan wonderfully have the cast join in, building the song in the opening scene and then closing out the play with its reprise.
The band played on: David Locke, piano, and musical director; Mickey Grimm, percussion and Lauren Wesels, harp.
The talk on the drive home will be better than conversations on the drive down.
“The Fantasticks” plays through Oct.21 Fridays-Sundays. For times, tickets and directions, call 360.221.8268 or go to https://tickets.wicaonline.org/TheatreManager/1/tmEvent/tmEvent962.html. The Piano Bar opens an hour before curtain.

Related Links:
• Kenneth Stern

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Published every Wednesday in La Conner Washington
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