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Thursday, 17 June 2010

The Fantasticks

The Fantasticks is a simple romantic tale of a boy and a girl and their fathers who scheme to make them fall in love. It is based on the play The Romancers by Edmond Rostand. It is a universal story that should appeal to all, though unfortunately I can't see how this production would.

The show has been a long-running hit on Broadway, and now a new Japanese production brings it to London's West End. The Fantasticks suits the dinky Duchess theatre in Covent Garden. It is an intimate space that serves well for smaller scale musicals, and has a certain charm about it that makes the show more intimate. Thank god because if it was any bigger the audience wouldn't be able to hear the voices of the two young leads: Lorna Want (Luisa) and Luke Brady (Matt) who certainly benefitted from the limited space. Carl Au who played The Mute moved fluently across the stage, but was rather a pointless additional character with little necessity in the story.

The more mature actors in the show, Paul Hunter (Mortimer) and Edward Petherbridge (Henry) were much more convincing and managed to squeeze an occasional laugh from the audience. Clive Rowe and David Burt, as the two fathers were full of energy and worked well together onstage, the only chemistry of the night. Hadley Fraser had charm and charisma as the narrator and held the whole show together. Unfortunately these actors had little to work with, as the music is pretty average, the song 'Try to Remember' is definitely the musical high point. The narrative is poor too, with most of the action over by the interval leaving little anticipation for the second act.

The Fantasticks has many West End wonders to contend with at the moment, and unfortunately by comparison is not too fantastic a show.

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