The Ottawa Citizen

March 1986

New Orpheus offering charming

by Barbara Crook


The wonder and innocence of first love, the hurt and disillusionment as reality sets in, the hard-won maturity of real love.

This is the stuff of The Fantasticks, the world's longest-running musical and the longest-running show in American theatre history.

It's a sometimes whimsical, sometimes poignant parable of love, pleasing in its simplicity.

The Orpheus Operatic Society production of The Fantasticks, directed by Richard Elichuk with musical direction by Drum Hudson and choreography by Karen Riopelle, is quite charming.

With the exception of Frayne McCarthy as one of the young lovers, the singing is not particularly outstanding, and despite the small scale of the show, it's evident Orpheus hasn't managed to overcome the acoustical problems of the High School of Commerce auditorium.

But the company has captured the play's gentleness and lyricism quite nicely, and manages to create a pleasing intimacy in the huge auditorium, which is no mean feat.

Frayne McCarthy and Cheryl Knight, Orpheus newcomers, are appropriately fresh and innocent as the young lovers.

McCarthy's choirboy looks, strong voice and bashful manner are perfect for the part. Knight is a natural actress with an expressive face and good stage presence, but her singing voice isn't always up to the intricacies of the part.

Dan Baran does a good job with the role of the narrator, who gets to sing the play's most memorable song, Try to Remember.

Jack Wallace and Wayne Nolan deserve special mention as a pair of misguided actors who can't tell the difference between real life and the stage. Wallace virtually steals the show everytime he comes on stage, butchering Shakespeare's lines and constantly searching for the rest of his lost theatre company.

Margaret Comeau's stark but striking set, and the small orchestra - piano, bass, percussion and harp - work beautifully, and are major factors in creating the intimacy this play needs.