PEP REVIEW: Fantasticks is a romance tamed by life's realities

Repertory Philippines will stage The Fantasticks until July 26, 2009 at Greenbelt 1, Makati City.

What happens when you put togethertwo hopelessly romantic teenage lovers and two practical fathers in one musical?Chances are you'll get a disfigured Romeo and Juliet and a whirlwind tour oflife's aches and wonders.

For its 72nd season, RepertoryPhilippines stages its version of The Fansticks, a 1960 musical by Harvey Schmidthand lyrics by Tom Jones, which is loosely based on the play The Romancerswritten by Edmond Rostand.

The original score of the play isperformed by pianists Molinder Cadiz, who has performed for the Singapore LyricOrchestra; and Jane Bautista, as soloist for the Philippine PhilharmonicOrchestra. The score includes timeless classics such as "Try to Remember,""They Were You," and "Soon It's Gonna Rain."

The play runs on July 10,11, 17, 18, 24, and 25 at Onstage Greenbelt One at 8 pmand on July 5,11,12, 18, 19, 25, and 26at the same venue at 3:30 pm.

THE PLOT. Knowing that children always do the opposite of what parentstell them to do, two fathers—button-maker Bellomy, and ex-sailor Hucklebee—decideto make their children fall in love by separating them with a wall and a fake familyfeud. The incurable romantics that they are, sixteen year old Luisa andseventeen year old Matt (PJ Valerio, High School Musical), found thedivision of their houses terribly romantic and promptly fell in love.

Thrilledby the success of their matchmaking, the two fathers decided to end the fakefeud with a staged abduction courtesy of a band of posers led by the Spanishbandit El Gallo (Jake Macapagal, West Side Story). The plan is to makeMatt rescue Luisa from an "effective and polite" abduction staged by Henry(Miguel Faustman, Camelot), an ageing actor and his Indian sidekickMortimer. After the successful of the fake abduction, all romance died down andwith the lovers now able to meet freely, they realized each other's flaws andbegan to fight. Eventually, they went their own ways to experience the world, withall its wonders and pains. Will Matt and Luisa be able to get back together?


THE VERDICT. The Fantasticksis a perfect play for a small theater with an intimate audience since noelement goes to waste. Because of the simplicity of the plot, the stage settingwas reduced to a ladder, which functions as a wall; a bench, which becomes astage wing, and two boxes from which actors, the sun, moon, wind, and snow aretaken out by the Mime who ushers them into the performance.

PJ Rebullida (Taming ofthe Shrew, 2005), with his extensive background as a dancer, is a veryeffective Mime who is an all-round stagehand and an ever transformingcharacter, sometimes being the wall builder, the wall, the wind, the snow. Heis ever present and invisible at the same time.

The two fathers, played by Jaime delMundo (After Aida) as Hucklebee, and Dido de la Paz (Romulus D' Grayt)as Bellomy, are simply darling, with their timing and ability to connect to theaudience with delicate humor.

Quite the opposite is RedConcepcion's (Hamlet) Mortimer, the Indian whose extraordinary skill atdying satisfies the Filipinos' love for the slapstick. He more than oncebrought down the packed house with his elaborate death, which he explains: "Itis not the easiest in the business but I'm good at it."


The young Julia Abueva's Luisa, thoughnot lacking in expression, is almost too sweet. It is charming and energeticbut it fails to give varying degrees of excitement, all to the point of beingmonotonous. In the coming performances, the challenge for this promisingperformer, who at the age of 13, had already sung for heads of state, is towiden her range of expressing vivacity and to draw the audience into hercharacter more.

The Fantasticks
is a tale of childish arrogance and romanticism tamed by life's realities. Itshows that love is only real when it has survived all the glass shattering andharshness the real world has to offer.


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