ProArts' production of "The Fantasticks," which opened last Friday evening at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei, was everything a musical should be. Entertaining, heartwarming, intimate and powerful, it reminded me of what I love most about theater.
Written in 1960 by composer Harvey Schmidt and lyricist Tom Jones, "The Fantasticks" performed in the same off-Broadway theater for 42 years, making it the longest-running musical in history. With its simple set, rich and relatable characters, durable themes of love, fantasy, disillusionment and growth, and timeless tunes such as "Try to Remember," "Soon It's Gonna Rain," and "They Were You," it is easy to see why the musical attained such long-term success. Compelling in its simplicity, "The Fantasticks" cannot help but capture audiences' hearts and minds.
ProArts' production was artfully staged and perfectly cast. The acting and singing were both superb. Robert Wills played the narrator, El Gallo, who assists the children's scheming fathers and mops up the damage when their plan goes awry.
Starring in ProArts’ production of “The Fantasticks” are Leighanna Locke as The Girl, Tom Althouse as The Boy, Dale Button (left) as The Girl’s Father and Jonathan Lehman as The Boy’s Father.
If the rest of the cast had been any less talented, he might have stolen the show. As it was, his gorgeous voice sent chills up my spine and his masterful acting anchored the production.
Tom Althouse was brilliant as Matt, the young romantic who falls in love, loses perspective and regains it the hard way. Althouse's openhearted sincerity gave the role humor and depth.
Leighanna Locke nailed the flighty, self-absorbed 16-year-old Luisa. Her crystal-clear soprano voice was a treat to hear. The vibrant chemistry between Locke and Althouse drew the audience in.
Jonathan Lehman and Dale Button were perfect as the children's fathers, Hucklebee and Bellomy. These plotting but good-hearted old men were alternately grouchy and full of boyish enthusiasm. Their musical numbers "Never Say No" and "Plant a Radish" were adorable and funny.
John Peterson was a riot as Henry, the wobbly old ham who arrives to help El Gallo carry out the fathers' plot. This wonderful comedic actor milked every line. His hilarious accomplice Mortimer (Kalani Whitford) performed a protracted death sequence that had the audience roaring.
The production team included producers Jonathan Lehman and Doug Kendrick, who also directed; musical director and pianist Anne Durham; assistant director Yumi Numata; costume designer Kathleen Schulz; scenic designer Caro Walker; lighting designer Bonnie Prucha; and light board operators Yumi Numata and Kristi Scott.
The music and message of "The Fantasticks" stayed with me long after I left the theater. Do not miss this unforgettable production.
n "The Fantasticks" plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The run breaks for the holidays, then resumes at the same times, Jan. 7 through 16 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for kids 12 and under. Call 463-6520 for tickets.
LOL@MACC with Rita Rudner: Get ready to Laugh-Out-Loud with Rita Rudner just in time for the holidays! Voted "Best Comedian in Las Vegas" by the Las Vegas Review-Journal for the past eight years, Rudner has become one of Vegas' most beloved performers in a city filled with cabarets and production shows. David Letterman, Johnny Carson, Bill Maher, Jay Leno, Bob Hope, George Burns, Conan O'Brien and Oprah Winfrey have all found Rita amusing when she appeared on each of their respective TV shows.
In 2008, she began a relationship with PBS. Her one-hour special, "Rita Rudner: Live From Las Vegas," was a ratings standout for PBS stations across the country.
Happy HoliDAZE Christmas Cabaret
Sizzling burlesque acts with select scenes from "The Slutcracker" (Rachel DeBoer as "Clara"); tribal fusion belly dance by Twisted Hips and Isa Inca; costumes and styling by Larissa Williams of LeRu; Santa's favorite elves: DJs Sid, Sweetbeets and Cudra Clover; vintage visual erotica by Douglas DeBoer; free libations for the early arrivers; a holiday bake sale; a HoliDAZE dance party; a pretend-you're-Santa lap dance booth; and loads of other ridiculous holiday shenanigans!
* "Happy HoliDAZE Christmas Cabaret" starts at 6 p.m. Saturday at Santa's Secret Hideaway in Haiku. Tickets are $20. Email kitkatclubcabaret@gmail. com to RSVP for directions and additional information.