MUSICAL - THE FANTASTICKS at The Pasadena Playhouse

By Dena Burroughs  --  September 17, 2016

The romantic musical THE FANTASTICKS, with book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, is now performing at the Pasadena Playhouse, under the direction of Seema Sueko.

This is the story of a boy (Matt), a girl (Luisa), two fathers (Hucklebee and Bellomy), and a wall (played by a lyrical dancer holding up a stick). Luisa is young and innocent and feels that she’s in love with the boy on the other side of the wall. Matt loves her back. Their parents, however, built the wall to keep them apart. What the children do not know is that their folks are actually playing a reverse psychology trick on them, and that eventually steps will be taken to end up their concocted feud and bring them together.

At the Playhouse, Ashley Park is Luisa and Conor Guzman is Matt. Besides having nice chemistry between them, this is a duo of impressive voices. Every actor in this musical is quite talented, but I will pinpoint Phillip Anthony-Rodriguez (“El Gallo”) for sounding amazing in the favorite song “Try to Remember,” and Gedde Watanabe for the undeniable charisma that he adds to his Hucklebee. Hal Linden (Henry) is the face that the audience recognizes best, as his career has spanned more than 65 years with memorable roles on stage, TV, and film. The cast is complete with Regi Davis as Bellomy, Alyse Rockett as The Mute, and Amir Talai as Mortimer. Live music is enjoyed with David O. on piano and Liesl Erman on harp.

At the Playhouse the action happens in an abandoned, dilapidated theater in Southern California. There, says Director Sueko, “our troupe of eight actors and two musicians break in, compelled to make art…” Sueko spoke to THE FANTASTICKS' playwright, Tom Jones, to share the ideas she had for the production at The Playhouse. Jones not only endorsed her concepts, but invited her to collaborate with him on some lyric and text updates for the musical. As a result, The Playhouse’s audience is the first to see the revamped version of THE FANTASTICKS.

The lighting and the sound are always perfect at The Playhouse, and this lovely musical has catchy and spirited tunes. THE FANTASTICKS is light, funny, colorful, and can be enjoyed by young and old. It will perform Wednesday through Sunday until Oct. 2 only, so you should act soon.

The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Ave., in Pasadena 91101. Tickets range $25 to $135 available online at or by calling (626) 356-7529.

Rafael Goldstein (Septimus Hodge) and Erika Soto (Thomasina Coverly). Photo by Craig Schwartz.

(L-R): Conor Guzmán, Ashley Park, Regi Davis and Gedde Watanabe  in The Fantasticks at The Pasadena Playhouse. Photo by: Jim Cox Photography.