LUISA (JILLIAN CAILLOUETTE), MATT (JORDAN DUVALL) AND EL GALLO (JON ESCOBAR)
Jack Benny was proud to be perpetually 39 years of age. The oldest running musical off-Broadway, “The Fantasticks,” is also proud to be 39 but it is counting on surpassing that number in short order. To date, since 1960, over 21,000 performances of this Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt show have toured all over the world and now you can have a front row seat to see what all the hoopla is about or revisit a show you have loved in the past. Either way, the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin has your table waiting, weekends until September 24 (no performances Labor Day weekend).
The plot of the musical is simple. Two well meaning fathers are in cahoots to encourage their children, Luisa and Matt, to fall in love. To that end, they forbid them to speak or meet and even go so far as to build a wall between them. Of course, these tactics do what they had hoped for and push the pair into a romantic tizzy. Their scheming, however, has unexpected consequences of day dreaming morphing into nightmares and young innocence becoming cruel awakenings. The fairy tale does not easily become happily ever after.
Come meet the interfering fathers Hucklebee (George Lombardo) and Bellomy (Russell Fish) who are so protective of their offspring, Matt (Jordan DuVall) and Luisa (Jillian Caillouette), that they try to manipulate their feelings and end up in trouble for it. Perhaps they should have stuck to raising vegetables because as they sing so philosophically, when you plant a carrot you get a carrot, but with children who knows.
The gallant El Gallo (Jon Escobar) narrates the tale and is hired by the dads to fake an abduction of Luisa so Matt can heroically save her. The plot is aided by the comic actors Mortimer (James J. Moran) who specializes in dying and Henry (Dave Wall) who has forgotten more lines of Shakespeare than most of us even know. Sue Emond is effective and silent as the wall that has been erected to separate the young lovers, with her chest of tricks and props to aid and abet the action.
The road to true love is full of bumps as both Matt and Luisa discover when they let the real world enter their naive surroundings. Memorable songs like “Try to Remember,” “Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” “Plant a Radish” and “Round and Round” advance the story. The shielding masks of childhood are soon torn away as romantic dreams are shattered. Kris McMurray does a splendid job directing a fine cast in this enduring classic of love and loss.
For tickets ($30), call the CT Cabaret Theatre, 31 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com. Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m. Bring goodies to share at your table or plan to buy dessert and drinks on site.
Join two parents in their age old quest to do the best for their offspring by scheming and plotting and manipulating and causing results that threaten to destroy all they had hoped to create.