The Fantasticks
Reviewed by David Kashimba

If you’re looking for a one-stop night out, there’s no better place than The Belrose Dinner Theatre in downtown San Rafael. This beautiful historic landmark was built in 1913 as St. Matthew’s German Church. In 1942, the church was sold to the Trinity Lutheran Congregation and 20 years later, David and Margie Belrose, owners of Belrose Studio Theatre School of Dance and Performing Arts in San Rafael bought it and transformed it into a dance studio, theatre and home for themselves and their two children.

For a mere $30 - $35 a person you’ll be treating yourself to a great dinner including salad, homemade bread and desert and a night of Broadway style entertainment in an intimate atmosphere with beautiful stained glass windows and friendly waiters and waitresses who will later surprise you with their stage and musical talents. Non-dining tickets are also available at a lower price.

Currently playing is The Fantasticks, the longest running Broadway musical of all time. Based on the play Les Romanesques by French playwright Edmond Rostand with lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, it was written in 1894 as a love story drawn with many classical elements. The two young lovers played by Julie Ponsford and Sam Rogers meet across a wall like Pyramus and Thisbe. Indeed, the wall, played by Margie Belrose is so important to the drama that it has a life of its own. The wall was erected by rival fathers like those in Romeo and Juliet only these fathers deliberately pretend to be enemies so that their son and daughter will meet and fall in love out of forbidden mystique. The wise and very comic fathers know that if their children sense that their fathers approve, the son and daughter will see it all as an arranged marriage and have no part of it. The fathers are so intent that they actually arrange for a bogus abduction in which the boy will be made to look like he came to the girl’s rescue and saved her from a band of ruffians.

Though it all works like a charm and the first act looks like everyone will live happily ever after, El Gallo (Tom Wagner) who plays the leader of the abductors, is actually far wiser than the fathers. He knows that as soon as the two fathers take the wall down, too much familiarity will breed contempt and the son and daughter will soon see through their parents’ plan.

In the second act the boy and girl are forced to go out into the cruel world so that they can learn who they are and what they want. Though the entire play and musical are written as a farce, the second act does take on a darker tone of a satiric romance giving rise to some memorable songs like Soon It’s Gonna Rain and Try to Remember.

For tickets to a night of fine dinning and entertainment call (415) 454-6422.

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