Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Fantastic Four Seasons On A Moonlit Night

The Fantasticks! Anna Slate, Robert A Goderich, Jace Nichols, Michael Anderson, John Jajewski and Trevor Bass
Four Seasons Theatre warmed up a very chilly December night with their production of the coming of age story "The Fantasticks" Friday night at the Overture Center Playhouse. The small ensemble delivered a big bang in their performance of this classic.

The Director - And Narrator - El GUY-OH
The director Jace Nichols also played "The Narrator," AKA "El Gallo." In his letter to the audience in the program, he recalls failing at this role in his 20's, and wanting to redeem himself. I would have thought he toured with this show as El Gallo after this seeing this performance. Nichols owned the role of Narrator, and it is obvious he channeled those years of thinking about that past attempt into a wonderful reading on Friday night.

Anna Slate as "The Girl, Luisa," certainly looks the part. Her small frame was deceiving as her stage presence loomed large. Something that occurred to me is that I know Anna, and when I watched her on stage, I never thought "I am watching Anna"... I was swept up in her performance and was thinking "Luisa." For me, that is a testament to what she brought to that role.

Trevor Bass provided a solid performance as "The Boy, Matt," as were the roles of Hucklebee and Bellomy performed by John Jajewski and Robert Goderich. The actors Henry and Mortimer (Mark Snowden and David Lawver) were hilarious. And Michael Anderson's "Mute" was just plain cool.
The Girl, The Boy, And The Mute

I will admit that I was skeptical when I saw the instrumentation was a piano and harp. Harp? I couldn't imagine that. But when the music started, I was blown away. It matched up perfectly, with the harp providing a fullness to the sound that made for a gorgeous backdrop. I believe this could have gone horribly wrong if not executed perfectly. Pianist Thomas Kasdorf and Harpist Elizabeth Borsodi executed the score spot on.

This was my first experience seeing The Fantasticks. I thought it would be fun to take my mom, the biggest theater fan I know, to get her take. I figured someone who dragged me to shows such as "Chapter Two" and "Pal Joey" while in my teens would be able to give me a fair read on it. In her years and years (and years) of experience in the theater she has seen EVERYTHING. I am happy to report that it passed the Theater Mom seal of approval. She thoroughly enjoyed the Four Seasons production (while she made friends with audience members sitting next to her).

I also have to mention the choreography. It was incredible. With the limited ensemble, there is a lot of action and movement. Brava to Mari Borowski!

An insert in the program contained a cautionary note about a word used in the production. Rape. Startling when you look at it or when you hear it. But in actuality, the archaic intended meaning of the word means to seize - take away by force, kidnap and or abduct. Thankfully, Jace Nichols and Four Seasons chose to present the show as originally written. "It Depends On What You Pay" was a highlight for me, and I don't know how could you possibly work around the word rape in performing that piece. Although it struck me at how strange my enjoyment of a song centered around "a rape" (again, not what you think!) was, while sitting next to my mom. I am sure a shrink would have fun with that little scenario. But when you go, remember, rape is "abduction" and it is a fake one at that - a scheme to get the boy and girl together.

Another highlight is the beautiful classic "Try To Remember"... I would not be surprised at all if this song alone is what has kept The Fantasticks running consistently since 1960.

I can't think of a better diversion in avoiding the cruddy weather than to spend a couple of hours in the Playhouse watching this coming of age story. Remaining shows are Saturday 12/14 @ 7:30, Sunday 12/15 @ 2:00 pm, Friday and Saturday 12/20-12/21 @ 7:30 and Sunday 12/23 @ 2:00pm.

Here Comes The Sun
Jeff Turk
Fresco Opera Theatre

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