Escape Into the Whimsical World of THE FANTASTICKS

Escape Into the Whimsical World of THE FANTASTICKS

Pictured: (l-r): Jordan DeBose, Robert Quintanilla, Lindsey Jouett, and Megan Elk. Photo courtesy of Quest Theatre Ensemble.

Review: THE FANTASTICKS at Quest Theatre Ensemble

By Rebecca Keeshin

For lack of a better phrase, there is a lot going on in the world. Politically, economically, and environmentally (I mean come on Chicagoans, Saturday’s weather was sensational, but almost 70 degrees in February? Worrisome.). With the state of our country swirling around us, it is difficult to escape even for a moment, let alone two hours. Quest Theatre Ensemble’s production of THE FANTASTICKS allows audience members to enter a completely whimsical universe in which we can forget our own pasts, presents, and futures. The show demands that we as audience members be present with them, and because of that, we are whisked into a magical fable that has our eyes glued to the stage.

At age eleven, I checked out THE FANTASTICKS CD from the public library and stole my oldest brother’s Discman to listen to it. In 2017, sitting in the intimate Blue Theatre, I was brought back to that joy and giddiness I felt sitting in the corner of my childhood bedroom humming “Soon It’s Gonna Rain.” The aesthetic of the show is lovely; the elements are all working together. Not only do Emma Cullimore’s costumes and Joseph Pilka’s scenic design create the world of the play, but the actors’ energy along with the beautiful score truly bring this show to life. The show has only two instruments; a piano played by Sara Cate Langham and a harp played by Keryn Wouden. The simplicity of the piano and the harp together are enchanting. Vocally led by Adam Fane as Matt and Robert Quintanilla as El Gallo, you are easily lost in their sincerity and power. The ensemble as a whole strives to include you in their world. Kasey Alfonso’s choreography, especially expressed through The Mute (Lindsey Jouett), establishes the fluidity and love radiating from these characters. Every actor is committed to this story and opening their hearts to the audience.

Most importantly, I want to remind readers and theatergoers of Quest’s mission statement. “Quest Theatre Ensemble is dedicated to being the ‘People’s Theatre of Chicago’ by creating productions that Inform, Delight, Inspire and Unite. Committed to making theater accessible to everyone, the ensemble chooses stories that have universal appeal, finds innovative ways to engage the community and offers productions free of charge so anyone can participate”. That’s right. Tickets are FREE. All you have to do is go to their website and reserve them. I encourage you to spend an evening or afternoon at Quest. Do your best to make time for it, even when it seems impossible. You will not only enter a world full of discovery and soulful connectivity, but you will realize why THE FANTASTICKS is the world’s longest running musical. It is a story of a boy and girl trying to find their way in the world while recognizing and acknowledging their humanity, as well as their parents’ and those around them. Sometimes I think it is easy to forget that we are all human beings with desires, wishes, and fears that make us who we are. THE FANTASTICKS gently reminds you of this. I promise you you’ll leave with a smile and the tune of “Try to Remember” buzzing through your whole body.

About author

Rebecca Keeshin

Rebecca Keeshin is a currently an Acting Major at The Theatre School at DePaul and will be graduating this June. Originally from Highland Park, Illinois, Becky moved down to the city for school and is absolutely and utterly in love with Chicago. When not acting, Becky can be found babysitting, playing the ukulele, and vigorously scrap booking.