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Two On The Aisle
Ventura County Reporter - September 1998
Classic Tale Takes Center Stage
THE FANTASTICKS
Book and lyrics by Tom Jones,
Music by Harvey Schmidt,
Directed By Kevin P. Kern and
John G. Khouri.
Presented by Walk In Time
Theatre, Inc. At the Moorpark
Playhouse, 45 E. High St.
Moorpark. Thru Sun., Sept. 20.
Curtain: Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 3 & 8
p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. All seats $12.
529-1212
by Jim Spencer and
Shirley Lorraine
A young girl (Kristen Towers, cntr) is torn between reality
(Robert Towers and Rebecca Gessert, left) and an
adolescent fantasy (Kent Winfrey, right)
Live theater in Moorpark entered
a new era last weekend with the
opening of The Fantasticks at the
Moorpark Playhouse. The show is
one of the most popular and
longest running musicals of all
time. Since its inaugural
performance at New York's
Sullivan Street Playhouse in 1960,
the Off-Broadway musical has
charmed audiences worldwide
with its haunting music and
timeless tale. By the start of its
25th year, there had been 8,228
productions throughout the United
States, 15 national touring
companies, and 453 presentations
in 66 foreign countries.
The beauty of The Fantasticks is
its simplicity. The show is a
commedia morality play staged by
a troupe of actors with a minimum
of sets and props. Its few costume
pieces and props are produced
from an old trunk by a silent
character, The Mute (
Jess Osier),
who sets the scenes, distributes the
necessary accouterments, and
dresses the set through physical
imagery.
The play is about rebirth, a rebirth
of beliefs, understanding and of
shedding old ideas to embrace new
ones as maturity presents the
inevitable obstacles. Told through
parables and metaphors, the story
centers on Luisa (
Kristen Towers)
and Matt (
Kent Winfrey), two
adolescents whose budding love is
being outwardly discouraged by
their apparently feuding fathers
(
Dan Restuccio and Jim Harlow),
In reality, the wall erected
between their properties is
designed, in a bit of reverse
psychology, to encourage their
children to fall in love. They also
hire a bandit (
Damian Gravino)
and a small band of actors (
Robert
Towers
and Rebecca Gessert) to
stage an abduction so Matt can
rescue his love and seem the hero.
In the moonlight, it all seems
wondrous, mysterious and alluring.
By day, however, flaws begin to
emerge, shadows are cast, and the
sunshine is too bright for comfort.
The path to happiness is found to
be difficult and rife with
disappointments as the harsh
light of reality temporarily blinds
the young lovers. Eventually the
allure of the adventure wears
thin, and the story comes full
circle to end where it began.
Such is life.












The cast and crew of The
Fantasticks are comprised of a
mixture of familiar faces and
new talent. Sharing credit with
John Khouri, 1998 REP
(
Reporter Excellence in
Performance
) Award recipient,
Kevin P. Kern has directed a
production sure to please patrons
of all ages and levels of
sophistication. The players are
accompanied on the piano by
Kevin Parcher, an accomplished
musician and composer, who
stepped in as musical director
just days before the opening
performance and played
flawlessly.
Perhaps the most memorable
role is that if the story weaver,
El Gallo.
Damian Gravino (a
1996 Rep Award recipient
)
portrays the rogue with flair and
humor. His rich voice is
especially outstanding in
Try to
Remember
and I Can See It .
The young lovers,
Towers, who
has a strong, trained soprano
voice, and
The beauty of The
Fantasticks is its
simplicity. The show is a
commedia morality play
staged by a troupe of
actors with a minimum
of sets and props.
Windfrey both project the
innocence and exuberance of
youth.
Comedy relief is provided in
generous quantities by the two
fathers,
Restuccio and Harlow.
Written to be the pantaloons,
their antics exemplify the
perception adolescents often
have of their parents. Their two
songs,
Never Say No and Plant a
Radish
are delightful
commentaries about the
contradictions posed by progeny.
A standout performance is given
by
Robert Towers (Kristen's real
life father
) as Henry, the Old
Actor. A seasoned professional
with extensive credits, he is
polished, unceasingly creative
and positively enchanting in his
portrayal of the bumbling,
forgetful player who has a
misquote for every occasion.
The Fantasticks is presented on
the stage of the Moorpark
Playhouse, formerly the home of
the Magnificent Moorpark
Melodrama & Vaudeville
Company. The facility is
experiencing a rebirth as it sheds
the persona of its former tenant
even as its new resident
production company, the
nonprofit Walk in Time Theatre,
Inc., explores fresh directions in
community entertainment with
broad-based appeal.
Linda Bredemann, Walk In
Time Theatre's executive
producer and the dynamo behind
the entire project, is hopeful both
this production and the mixture
of concerts, plays and special
events booked for this fall, will
encourage patrons to come to the
playhouse for a variety of
entertainment experiences.
The Fantasticks is a classic love
story, with memorable music,
everyone should see at least
once. It can certainly be enjoyed
many times over. The limited run
ends this Sunday, Sept 20.