Set against the backdrop of a dilapidated amusement park, and weaving illusion and slight-of-hand, Sebastian La Cause (El Gallo) and Nate Dendy (the Mute) serve as the narrators of this love story. La Cause is dashing and confident, filling his role as the bandit with depth and genuine emotion. Dendy was the perfect sidekick, his facial expressions and physical movements proving that an actor doesn’t need words to dominate his scenes.
Timothy Ware (Matt) and Addi McDaniel (Luisa), play the young couple who have fallen in love despite their father’s feud and the wall that was built to separate them. Ware is convincing as a studious young man who is gripped by the passion of love, but truly comes into his own as the world-weary prodigal during the harsher second act. McDaniel easily captures Luisa’s dreamy, hopeful, and romantic qualities as well as the hearts of the audience.
Michael Stone Forrest (Hucklebee) and Jerome Lucas Harmann (Bellomy) are delightful in their portrayal of the horticulturally obsessed fathers who have schemed up the feud as a way to drive their children together, believing children only do the opposite of what is desired of them. These two make the perfect comedy team as they dance, joke, and play off each other.
Laurence O’Dwyer (Henry) and Jesse Terrill (Mortimer), round out the cast as a pair of traveling actors playing whatever role is available, but specializing in Shakespeare and death scenes. O’Dwyer stole every scene as the doddering old actor, forgetting lines, shuffling around the stage and needing assistance on the big steps.
“The Fantasticks is profoundly about how to be human,” said Dehnert. “The show comes from a place of innocence. It teaches us how to live with both the happiness and the hurt that life can introduce, while at the same time it dares us to face both and find our way in the world.”
Book and lyrics by Tom Jones; music by Harvey Schmidt; directed by Amanda Dehnert; choreography by Sharon Jenkins; musical direction by George Fulginiti-Shakar; set design by Eugene Lee; costume design by Jessica Ford; lighting design by Nancy Shertler. Through January 10 at Arena Stage at Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U Street NW. Click here to purchase tickets.
With: Sebastian La Cause (El Gallo), Nate Dendy (The Mute), Addi McDaniel (Luisa), Timothy Ware (Matt), Michael Stone Forrest (Hucklebee), Jerome Lucas Harmann (Bellomy), Laurence O’Dwyer (Henry), and Jesse Terrill (Mortimer).