By Bill Hirschman, FloridaTheaterOnStage.com, for SouthFloridaReporter.com, Sept. 11, 2015 – The crucial test for whether a production of The Fantasticks truly succeeds, as Broward Stage Door’s does, is the last few minutes.
The reconciliation scene has to deliver a sense of guileless fantasies having been scraped away by callous experience, leaving behind a lasting love born not of romance novels but of chastened, tested affection.
And it has to feel as real and true as the preceding two hours have been a stylized gaily theatrical celebration of youthful foibles evolving into mature knowledge.
Like the entire show, the tone is surprisingly hard to nail because it seems so simple and, in fact, is unusually difficult. It has been bungled by thousands of high schools, community theaters and professional productions that have thought, “How hard can this be?” Because the Tom Jones-Harvey Schmidt classic has such inherently strong material, most don’t even know that they’ve fallen short of what makes this work so magical and moving.