Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
A boy, a girl, their fathers, a mute, a band of broken down actors. That's it. A score with the delicacy of finely woven webs. Add to the aforementioned your own imagination and dreams of youth and be transported to a time, long forgotten.
Will the kids find love? Will the fathers succeed in their mutual intention? Is there really an "abduction/rape"? The gorgeous songs are so well integrated into the play that, for a change, they don't interrupt the action, thanks to Dan Kelley's superb direction of the eight actors, as well as the glorious and loving playing of musical director Dave Nagy on piano and Kay Kemper on harp.
A beautifully cast show, there are several standouts. Chief among them is Alan Gerstel, a retired news anchor in the West Palm Beach area, as Henry, aka The Old Actor. Wearing the worst, and most perfect wig, he espouses his Shakespearean lines beautifully and delivers his international/regional malaprops with finesse. The boy and girl are sung beautifully by Alexander Zenoz and Molly Anne Ross. As their fathers, Larry Kent Bramble and Michael Small give Gerstel some stiff competition for scene-stealing. Pierre Tannous, as the Mute, oversees the glorious proceedings with an arch of an eyebrow or a knowing smirk on his handsome face. Sebastian Lombardo is Mortimer, Gerstel's right-hand man, with the purposely, (I hope) worst Cockney accent, a riot in his American Indian garb amongst others. Pedro Kaawaloa, Jr., as El Gallo, moves the evening along briskly.
Mention must be made of one of the most functional and attractive stage sets Stage Door has had in ages. Thanks to the Stage Door Scenic Department. The atmospheric lighting and appropriate costumes by Ardena Landhuis and Colleen O'Connell, respectively, add to the warmth of the evening.
Many say The Fantasticks? Oh, please , not again." With Kelley's innovative scenic additions steering clear of changing the true structure of the piece, not only should you see it (again) but this is a wonderful introduction for adults and children of all ages ... and aren't we all still "children?" Mr. Kelley, be proud. Be very, very proud.
The Fantasticks Plays through October 11, 2015, at The Broward Stage Door Theatre. 8036 West Sample Road, Coral Springs, FL. For information and tickets, call 954-344-7765 or visit stagedoortheatre.com. Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm; Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm.
-- Jeffrey Bruce