Jun 11, 2018
by Alexa Chipman
Eager parents conspire to create the perfect romance for their children, using the classic trope of forbidden love. They watch the young couple mature from high-flown fantasies through the heartbreak of reality and into a future together. Loosely based on‘ Les Romanesques,’ the convoluted plot of bandits and seduction gains foundation through a journey of self-discovery and has become a popular musical around the world.
Director Elly Lichenstein has chosen a minimalist, stylized setting, accentuating the historical setting. “We intentionally did not update the costumes” she explains, to demonstrate that it is not meant to be post-modern. The hapless heroine, Luisa, has been updated to hold her own, until she deliberately steps aside for Matt. It is “the old-fashioned feeding of the male ego” Lichenstein points out, having chosen energetic fight choreography for Luisa, until she takes herself out of the conflict in favor of her lover giving the final blow.
According to Lichenstein, the flourishing bravado of Tom Jones’ book and lyrics “was pretty unusual in its day” with rhyming couplets and blatant disregard for the fourth wall. As audiences, we have become accustomed to being addressed directly, but that was not the case in 1960 when the play was first performed. Everyone is involved, including the music director, who is referred to by the cast throughout the performance. Mary Chun and the band enjoy interacting during the story, collaborating to create “one complete package.”
‘The Fantasticks’ is comedic at heart, integrating slapstick shenanigans with darker discoveries. In addition to Chun and Lichenstein, the percussionist, Kevin Neuhoff, and associate director, James Pelican, were involved with ideas of what sound effects to use that would bring out the best in each scene. “Do you own…a bird whistle? How about a flexatone? Anyone have coconut shells? Can we hack through a watermelon every night and run it through a microphone?” Chun recalls the exciting creativity of rehearsals.
In a unique production of this beloved musical, Cinnabar has gathered a talented ensemble to perform in Petaluma.
Presented by Cinnabar Theater through June 24, 2018
Fri/Sat at 8:00pm, Sun/Sat June 23 at 2:00pm
Photos by Victoria Von Thal
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