Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ABET's 'Fantasticks' Fabulous; Cast Does Production Proud

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ABET's 'Fantasticks' Fabulous; Cast Does Production Proud

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Faulkner, Shorelines correspondent

The Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre celebrated its return to the Adele Grage Cultural Center on Friday with the opening of The Fantasticks.

ABET's cast hit the right notes to show why The Fantasticks has become an off-Broadway legend and international phenomenon.

It's the story of Matt and Louisa, next-door neighbors who fall in love. At the start, they're separated by a wall between their homes, a result of a supposed feud between the young lovers' fathers.

The fathers quickly reveal -- through a funny yet telling song and dance routine, of course -- they built the wall specifically to make their children fall in love. Their reverse psychology parenting inspires a conspiracy to have Louisa kidnapped just so Matt can rescue her and win her heart.

Once Matt foils the phoney kidnapping, problems develop. It turns out Matt and Louisa's naive notions of love are harder to maintain without a wall separating them. They break up and both learn some harsh life lessons, Matt out in the big, bad world; Louisa at home, pining for El Gallo, the bandit who staged the kidnapping.

As El Gallo/The Narrator, Trey Ryan leads the audience through this often hilarious and occasionally dark tale. Ryan ably demonstrates his acting skills in both spoken and sung parts, never overwhelming his castmates when they have the lead, and showing some nimble steps for such a tall actor on a small stage.

As Louisa and Matt, Holly Williams and Jonathan Dickey ignite a tender and sincere passion. In the first act, their strong voices singing of young love and fantasies stir memories of the early, happy days of adulthood. When the duo reunite, Williams and Dickey convincingly show their characters' mature outlook toward the world and each other.

Ryan, Williams and Dickey shine as the three leads and are surrounded by an excellent supporting cast. …

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