Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires
Before getting to that flaw, there is a lot to celebrate in this staging. Musically, the show sounds delightful, featuring a two-member onstage band, under the music direction of Jill Brunelle. What's more, scenic designer Martin Scott Marchitto has crafted a lovely and ornate set that serves as an ideal setting for this delicate musical. Likewise, Elizabeth Saylor Cipollina's costumes are absolutely beautiful, adding to the atmosphere of this jewel-box of a production.
Playing the principal lovers at the center of the show, Ryan Bloomquist and Kimberly Immanuel are terrific. The handsome Bloomquist shines as Matt, the young hero, and he looks and sounds ideal, especially in the songs "I Can See It" and the next-to-closing duet, "They Were You." The duet is shared with Kimberly Immanuel, who proves to be a perfect Luisa. From her opening number, the exciting "Much More," this actress practically blossoms onstage and also partners her costar wonderfully in the songs "Metaphor" and "Soon It's Gonna Rain."
The fathers of Matt and Luisa, Hucklebee and Bellomy, have been cast with two women, Patricia Schuman and Carly Callahan, making them "mothers" instead. And while this might have seemed like an interesting experiment, it doesn't really work. And that's a shame, because Schuman and Callahan are talented performers. But, despite their best efforts, their two big duets, "Never Say No" and "Plant a Radish," go for next to nothing.
Still, considering that these two characters are supporting parts, their casting does not spoil the show overall. As El Gallo, David Pittsinger, who was so great in the recent Ivoryton Playhouse productions of South Pacific and Man of La Mancha, is just as good here and he delivers an especially stirring "Try to Remember." Portraying the two comical actors Henry and Mortimer, R. Bruce Connolly and Will Clark, respectively, are quite endearing. The most outstanding performer in this production has no lines: playing The Mute, Cory Candelet is incandescent and inventive, managing, miraculously, to steal the show.
The Fantasticks at Ivoryton Playhouse also features one of the most outstanding displays of lighting design I have ever seen: lighting designer Marcus Abbott really outdoes himself here, with his work magically changing the mood by employing a gorgeous array of colors in light each scene. Just about all the elements of this production are sterling, resulting in a show that is sure to enrich and entertain the audience.
The Fantasticks, through April 8, 2018, at 103 Main St., Ivoryton CT. For tickets, please visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org or call the box office at 860-767-7318.