Review: The Fantasticks

“Not so tight.”

“Not so tight.”

Photo courtesy of Sacramento Theatre Company

The Fantasticks; 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday; $12-$33. Sacramento Theatre Company, 1419 H Street; (916) 443-6722; Through May 1.
Rated 5.0

Monique Ward Lonergan, a member of Sacramento Theatre Company’s Young Professionals Conservatory, is irresistibly enchanting as Luisa in The Fantasticks. Lonergan, 15, shares the role with Courtney Shannon. In her turn, the young actress holds the stage with a group of seasoned professionals. Theatergoers will fall in love with her.

The Fantasticks is considered the longest running musical in the world. It opened in 1960, ran 42 years off Broadway, and closed in 2002. A revival opened in 2006 and is still going strong.

On paper this seems like just a simple story about a boy and a girl and why parents should not meddle in matchmaking, so it’s always difficult to understand the magic that’s turned this into such a popular show.

And yet the magic is there, particularly in this production. Take Jerry Lee as El Gallo, the quasi-narrator-cum-bad-guy who strides onto the Pollock Stage, a towering presence with a twinkle in his eye that engages everyone instantly. An instant later that twinkle turns malevolent—and to great effect.

Gary S. Martinez, one of the two bandits hired to abduct Luisa in a misguided attempt to seal the romance of the young lovers, captivates while spouting faux Shakespeare and chewing the scenery. As always, the actor is fun to watch.

Other cast members include Michael Coleman and Amanda Goldrick as the parents, Tara Henry as the mute “wall” and Joshua Durfey, perfect as the smitten Matt, head over heels in love with the girl he has hardly even met face to face.

The Fantasticks is a simple and endearing show, done beautifully and, simply put, a must-see for Sacramento theater buffs.