“Try to Remember” the longest running musical in world history.
And if your memory fails you, depending on whether you go by performances or years, one claim to that throne is “The Fantasticks.”
Music Mountain Theatre has given us a beautiful, lyrical production directed lovingly by Eddie Honan. The simple story of young love and its idealism is one of hope, facing challenges and then hope again. The show, written by Tom Jones, reminds us of how the simplest of things are the most important.
Matt and Louisa are two young people who live next door to each other. Their families appear to be feuding, making this a “Romeo and Juliet” situation.
But Matt’s father Hucklebee and Louisa’s father Bellomy are only acting like they despise each other. They want their children to fall in love, but know if their kids found out their secret, they would do the opposite as children often do.
There is a seemingly omniscient presence overseeing their (our?) lives in the character of El Gallo, who acts as narrator of the story. Along the way, there is an abduction of Luisa by paid actors, so that Matt can play the hero. This is part of the plot for them to fall in love.
Henry and Mortimer are the actors, the former a faded Shakespearean actor and the latter, his sidekick who is known for his specialty of dying on stage. There also is a mute who helps create the world these characters live in by placing their props and changing scenes.
Louisa is played by the talented and effervescent Lucinda Fisher. Her vocals and her acting are pitch perfect. Tristan Takacs plays her other half, Matt, with boyish charm and a sweet bravado that is only found in the young. Erik Snyder is El Gallo.
There are two hit songs that came out of this musical and one is his, “Try to Remember.” It is El Gallo’s ask for us to reminisce about what it means to be not just young but “a callow fellow.” He does it with earnest sincerity.
El Gallo is Spanish for “rooster.” There are moments where I would have liked to have seen this El Gallo be more the cock of the roost and more dynamic. In the song, “I Can See It,” El Gallo should be pushing the boy to adventure and it should operate like a freight train impossible to stop, with the back and forth between the two. This is a three-week run, and I am hoping that dynamic can be worked on over the course of the run.
David McLoughan, Jr. is Matt’s father and this is some of his best acting to date. Known for comedy, McLoughan as a strict father was a wonderful thing to see.
Jonathan Wierzbecki as Bellomy, Louisa’s father, exuded joy and charm and is quite the dancer. Though limited choreography, his moves were precise and clean while grinning ear to ear. So much so, it is noteworthy.
Roger Madding gave another solid performance as the old actor Henry, but his assistant Mortimer (Tyler Brennan) comes close to stealing the show with his Cockney persona and fearless risk-taking in the role. When he shows you how to die onstage, dying has never looked so good. Morgan Tarrant was exceptional as The Mute ... it goes without saying.
Kudos to the tireless Sue Den Outer, fresh off MMT’s “The Last Five Years,” for the additional accompaniment.
This show is beloved for its simple poetic beauty. “Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” an example of that, is a classic song covered by so many artists.
When it opened, the reviews were not all kind, but it lasted over 42 years. There is magic in this show. It is true musical theater. Come see a classic. It runs through June 6. Tickets can be purchased at musicmountaintheatre.org.