Dramaworks' craftmanship exalts "The Fantasticks," world's longest-running musical
The finely crafted production of The Fantasticks at Palm Beach Dramaworks is a good example of the maxim less is more. Director J. Barry Lewis' pared-down approach suits the odd little musical and Palm Beach Dramaworks' intimate stage. ...The production is anchored by the magnificent Jim Ballard, playing El Gallo, the story's mysterious master of ceremonies and villain. He's a commanding presence, and his rich baritone voice invigorates all his tunes, but especially the old chestnut Try to Remember. Jennifer Molly Bell unites Luisa's breathless romanticism with a keen sense of the ridiculous and a clarion soprano. Jacob Heimer brings a soon-to-be dashed assurance and a clear tenor to Matt. Among the production's chief delights are the comic characters. Cliff Burgess as The Mute manages the minimalist props with grace and humor. Cliff Goulet as Matt's father Hucklebee and Barry Tarallo as Luisa's father Bellomy play the buffoons with panache, and display considerable song and dance skills... The comic pairing of Dennis Creaghan as Henry, an over-the-hill actor El Gallo employs, and Tangi Colombel as Henry's sidekick, Mortimer, is perfection... ...This quirky show has enough brains to qualify as Dramaworks' promised "theater to think about" and enough fun to recommend it as a fine summer outing.