June 6, 2008

The Fantasticks


"The Fantasticks" is the longest running musical in the world ... and before this summer I had never seen it. Currently on the Indiana Repertory Theatre's main stage, the show is split into two acts. The first is all roses and sonnets and moonbeams. It is the quintessential romantic musical. A young couple fall for each other, then they run into a few obstacles, but their passion prevails and love triumphs. Call me a cynic, but I wasn't impressed. It felt so pat and predictable, but the show wasn't over yet. The real meat of the show lies in the second act where the perfect pictures falls to pieces.

The impressive thing about "The Fantasticks" is that it was first produced in 1960 and yet it avoids all of the normal musical trappings of being predictable and borderline cheesy. The second act is cynical, witty and filled with humor. It doesn't mock love stories, it simply shows a more realistic view of life.

In this particular production the cast does a wonderful job highlighting the humor. The show's scheming fathers, Mark Goetzinger and Charles Goad are excellent. Their comradery and odd couple mannerism feel natural. William Norris and Robert K. Johansen are the local players. They provide some of the shows biggest laughs as they ham up death scenes and butcher famous monologues. El Gallo, played by David Studwell, is the narrator and "villian" in the show. His calm and steady presence lends a sense of solemnity to the show as he sings about celebrating sensation.

The show is a deviation from IRT's normal fare because it is a musical, but the theatre found a way to make the show its own. With a small cast, a real plot and a simple set the show doesn't feel like a stretch for the theatre, which is so well known for its dramas.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Sunday, June 22 on IRT's Mainstage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252.

Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com Prices begin at $32.

The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois Street and southbound Capitol Avenue.

*Photo Courtesy of the IRT

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