Try to remember...a musical as enchanting and enduring as this

Review

Try to remember...a musical as enchanting and enduring as this

Jul 18 2012
Hap Erstein | Palm Beach Post

The verdict: A The classic long-running off-Broadway musical of young love and loss of innocence still manages to charm us with its artful simplicity. Although it ran off-Broadway for 42 years–a total of 17,162 performances, more than any show in modern history–The Fantasticks is a very fragile piece of theater. A tale of young love and the loss of innocence, this enduring musical is rooted in its simplicity. Fortunately, Palm Beach Dramaworks' J. Barry Lewis understands that directors embroider the show with added staging business at their peril. Instead he relies on the audience's imagination and a few deft low-tech effects...to help cast the show's charming spell. Having long since become a staple of community theater and school productions, chances are you have already seen The Fantasticks. But by giving it the care the company regularly extends to weightier fare, Dramaworks makes the case for seeing the show once more... ...The entire score is rendered simply, yet effectively by Craig D. Ames on piano and Kay Kemper on harp. ....Lewis does not skimp on the show's dark tones, but he also embraces its abundant comic relief. Barry Tarallo and Cliff Goulet all but steal the show as the two sage, but clownish fathers... Out-buffooning them in support are Dennis Creaghan as a dithery old Shakespearean and Tangi Colombel as his sidekick Mortimer, who specializes in extravagant stage deaths. The most original performance, though, comes from Cliff Burgess as the stage-managing Mute, conveying plenty of attitude in his silence. Despite his frequent scowl and the show's cynical edge, Dramaworks' take on The Fantasticks still manages to disarm us. Maybe that is the magic trick, the creation of enchantment without seeming to chase after it.