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Looking for a fun family night out this summer? Then a visit to Camarillo Skyway Playhouse is definitely on the cards!

Laura Ring, Katy Jarvis, Parker Harris, and Dale Alpert. Photo by Rena Colette. (c) Camarillo Skyway Playhouse.

The Fantasticks is the longest running musical with an original run of 42 years!! The show’s charm and winsome appeal comes from Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt‘s hypnotic and timeless numbers, including Try to Remember which has been most recently heard on Josh Groban‘s Stages album and in Marvel‘s Captain America: Civil War.

It is a favourite for community theatres without the need for a full orchestra and its simplicity does not require special effects or lavish sets and costumes. The lyrics are allowed to sing for themselves. And it works perfectly within the setting of Camarillo Skyway Playhouse which is known for its use of prerecorded music, lack of amplification, and simplistic settings.

Katy Jarvis and Parker Harris. Photo by Rena Colette. (c) Camarillo Skyway Playhouse.

Director Michael J. McGraw chose to set the production at an old carnival so as to draw the audience’s “attention to the fact that what you are watching is a performance.” And for the most part the casting is delightful and memorable.

The Mute (played beautifully by Hillary Michelle) works well creating the play’s different scenes with an infectious smile and her box of props/costumes and pixie dust. Leading man, Parker Harris (as lovelorn Matt) is charming, humorous, handsome and expertly projects his clear baritone voice throughout the auditorium at all times. Supporting actors, Dale Alpert (Hucklebee) and Todd Tickner (Henry the actor), are entertaining and threaten to steal your attention whenever they are on stage with their humor, charisma, and good job of projecting. They are well supported by an amusing Alex Czajka as Mortimer (Henry’s assistant) who has terrific timing and chemistry with Tickner.

Leading lady, Katy Jarvis, as teenage Luisa has an exquisite porcelain beauty and lovely soprano voice. My only cause for consideration is that sometimes her voice is too soft and even from the front rows it is hard to make out quite what she is singing. Similarly this production’s El Gallo (Jeff Berg) also fails to project and despite the role seems to get lost in the woodwork next to actors such as Harris, Alpert and Tickner. The most interesting casting choice had to be to make Bellomy, originally Luisa’s father, a mother instead (played by Laura Ring). I think given some lyric choices I would have preferred they make Hucklebee a mother instead BUT Ring is equal parts delightful and has fabulous chemistry with Alpert making their duets a highlight of the show.

Producer Kaelia Franklin and Director/Choreographer McGraw did an excellent job finding a summer show that highlights the strengths of Camarillo Skyway Playhouse and their 8 person cast. So if you are looking for a family friendly piece of community theatre this summer in the Conejo Valley might I suggest a visit to see The Fantasticks? It plays through 10 July 2016 and there are ticket discounts for teachers, students, military, children and groups!!

Location: Camarillo Skyway Playhouse, 330 Skyway Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010
Parking: Free well-lit lot next to the theatre
Seating: General admission. Because of the acoustics I recommend sitting in the front half of the auditorium.

Disclaimer: My ticket was generously comped by CSP but all opinions are my own.