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Theater Preview

By Michael Bromka“The Fantasticks” musical play by Carlsbad Community Theatre will delight and inspire audiences starting 7:30 p.m. this Thursday 26 August 2021, plus the next three evenings, with Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.{ Thepreviously scheduled second weekend of performances has been canceled due to a funeral in the family of an irreplaceable cast member.The entire cast and crew merit support and gratitude for their Herculean efforts, opening early and adding two more shows. }Three spirited teens plus seasoned elders make up a cast that’s sure to entertain.Leading lady Reagan Van Soest as Luisa sings clear and strong opposite leading man Matt played by Daniel Miller.These teen characters fervently yearn for love, life, and adventure.Alas, their romance is openly opposed (yet furtively abetted) by fathers Bellomy and Huckaby (Casey Gadbury and Paul Loftis).Act 1 serves up Luisa’s solo “Much More” plus two lovely teen duets “Metaphor” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” all three lyrical and romantic.Comically to the side the fathers sing “Never Say No” —asserting that the best way to promote their teens’ romance is to make it taboo.Two points of audacity —from script and casting —converge in the play’s impresario El Gallo (pronounced as in Spanish).The fathers hope to concoct a sham “abduction” of Luisa by El Gallo and his hired stringers Henry and Mortimer (Paul Cox and Dave Kump).It’s crafty staging this raid.El Gallo croons a torch-song array of options, “It Depends On What You Pay.”The audacious casting is petite female fireball Tessa Folks as El Gallo —traditionally a tall baritone alpha male.(Jerry Orbach originated the role in 1960 so memorably that they later named the Theater after him!)Huh!WhatTessa lacks in vocal depth or corporeal height, she makes up in spunk and stature.Act 2 includes the seduction and jilting of Luisa by El Gallo.This scene between a tall leading lady and a much shorter seducing she-male is sensibly staged on a stepladder.The smaller

“man” mounts to a high enough rung on “his” side of the ladder to be seen as the more worldly wise of the pair.Dialogue and acting do the rest.(If we were watching Shakespeare’s original “Romeo and Juliet,” both those lovers would be men.So let’s get with the 21st century!)El Gallo croons the play’s opening and most renowned song, “Try to Remember.”On occasion he philosophizes in verse that’s rhymed.When Tessa —and occasionally others —speak rhymed lines, there’s a trick.Ifspoken and stressed precisely to relate sense, rhythm, and rhyme —those lines pack an extra punch.Act 1’s showiest scene is "Abduction Ballet" which involves the teen lovers, El Gallo, his henchmen, and a 4-person sword fight.The “deaths” of vanquished villains deliver the fathers’ requested melodrama.Act 1 ends with lovers reunited, fathers at peace, and wall torn down.Wall?What wall?Well, it’s really just a wooden dowel held by the Mute —mentioned just now, but on stage throughout the play.Portrayed by Terry Busby, the Mute speaks not, but hands out props, dresses the stage, and uses face and body to offer subtle commentary.The later love scenes, abduction, sword fight, triumph, and joyful reunion of Act 1 are bathed by moonlight. Act 2 in contrast is burnt by the sun.Harmony and romance are bleached away.Young Matt seeks solo adventure but harvests harshness and cruelty from strangers.Luisa learns not all men’s sweet promises ring true.Psychically wounded Luisa welcomes back and attends to physically wounded Matt.Reunited, they realize the wealth of what they had and still retain, singing of all cherished feelings —"They Were You.”To be amused and moved this weekend, buy your ticket to “The Fantasticks.”Students $10, Adults$20

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