Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Applause! Applause! Review of The Fantasticks at The Amateur Comedy Club by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of “The Fantasticks” at The Amateur Comedy Club was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and appeared in Volume III, Issue 1 (April, 1998) of Applause! Applause!

"The Fantasticks"
The Amateur Comedy Club (150 East 36th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 4/22/98 at 8:00 p.m.

The Amateur Comedy Club was founded in 1884 and is currently in its one hundred and fourteenth season, a record of consecutive annual performances among American dramatic clubs. This particular production of "The Fantasticks" will be the Three Thousand One Hundred Eighty Ninth Performance through the Three Thousand Two Hundred First Performance of the Club. The Clubhouse of the Amateur Comedy Club is a converted stable and yet it is a very attractive, intimate space. I was a guest of one of the members and found the evening to be a very pleasant experience. During the intermission, everyone was invited upstairs to a room where the walls are lined with photographs from previous productions. Complimentary wine and coffee were also served and everyone was very friendly and courteous despite the difficulties of maneuvering in the very small space. While any small inconveniences can all be forgiven, the only thing I think the Club should do something about are the seats in the theatre which were clearly not made with larger posteriors in mind. These particular chairs, with a metal bar on either side, were especially uncomfortable. Even if it means cutting down on the number of individuals squeezed into the theatre, I really think these chairs should be replaced with something a little larger so that full-figured patrons can enjoy the show as much as smaller patrons do.  

This particular production of "The Fantasticks" was quite enjoyable to watch and was very loyal to the original. More than competent performances were put in by Maria Aggabao who played The Mute, R. Keith Martin who played Hucklebee, Stuart Chamberlain who played Bellomy, Marisa Mickel who played Luisa and Roderic L. Suter who played Mortimer.

Superior performances were delivered by Reed Forrester who played Matt and Edward J. Gallagher who stole the show playing The Actor. Mr. Forrester is a very good looking talented actor with a very powerful singing voice and a great stage presence. I look forward to seeing more of this up-and-coming star. Mr. Gallagher has acting abilities that reflect a lifetime of experience. He should be working full time on Broadway in any number of possible roles which I am certain that he could easily master. Mr. Gallagher's humorous biographical note in the program states that "Ed is all but positive that being cast in The Fantasticks as a bumbling, decrepit, has-been old ham in no way reflects the way his fellow Club members perceive him."     

The only cast member I could have done without and who nearly ruined the entire production was David Scharf who played El Gallo. Scharf's voice and stage presence were not strong enough for him to successfully carry off playing El Gallo. Perhaps his acting skills would be better showcased in some other production. His voice is too weak and he is too much of a pretty-boy to have been cast as the powerful, manly, worldly El Gallo. He never should have been offered, nor should he have accepted, this part.

The members of the Amateur Comedy Club appeared to be some very fine, distinguished, cultured individuals. I encourage you to call them to inquire about membership.       

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