The Romantics Review – Tricking Your Teenagers

Carlo Figlio and Alexander Wells in THE ROMANTICS - Photo by Garth Pillsbury
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Most theatergoers have at least heard of “The Fantastics,” but many are unfamiliar with THE ROMANTICS, upon which the better known play is based. THE ROMANTICS was penned by famed French poet and dramatist Edmond Rostand, best known for his comedy masterpiece, “Cyrano de Bergerac.” In fact, THE ROMANTICS was Rostand’s first play, a wildly comedic romp which introduced him to theatergoing Parisians ad launched a highly successful career which ended when he died of the Spanish flu at the tender age of 50.

Johnny Austen and Maegan McConnel – Photo by Elaine L. Mura

The City of West Hollywood and Classical Theatre Lab are proud to present THE ROMANTICS, their local contribution to theater in the park – in this case, Kings Road Park. In the balmy afternoon sun dappled through a towering oak, this cheery and very funny story is sure to make the summer doldrums go away. Directed and produced by Suzanne Hunt, THE ROMANTICS is this year’s entry into their roster of plays in the park.

Johnny Austen, Maegan McConnell, Carlo Figlio, and Katie McKewin – Photo by Garth Pillsbury

Set in eighteenth century France, THE ROMANTICS introduces us to Pasquinette (Maaren Edward) and Bergamin (Alexander Wells), who have cooked up the perfect plan to get their offspring to fall in love and marry. Fearful that their kids will balk at a marriage which is heartily approved of by their parents, the two schemers have built a wall between their properties and prepared the ideal explanation, a heated feud between the two families. A feud which is geared to keep their offspring from even meeting. Naturally, a wall and a warning hold little sway with two teens, who believe that they are outfoxing their families when they not only meet but also fall in love. With plans to elope, Sylvette (Meagan McConnell) and Percinet (Johnny Austen) are certain that love conquers any impediment.  All under the sage eye of Blaise, the gardener (Donald Wayne). To speed the romance up, Sylvette’s mom and Percinet’s dad hire the handsome rake Straforel (Carlo Figlio) to stage a fake kidnapping during which Percinet will heroically rescue the fair Sylvettte. A perfect plan with some unexpected consequences. Rostand’s play is filled with twists, turns, and surprises – all the while with uproarious results.

Donald Wayne, Johnny Austen, Katie McKewan, Carlo Figlio, Alexander Wells, Maegan McConnell, and Maaren Edward – Photo by Garth Pillsbury

Director Hunt helms the production with a light hand, just as it should be. THE ROMANTICS is meant to amuse and create a happy place for people to smile and chuckle. The skillful cast appears to be enjoying themselves immensely – what with ill-fated lovers, swashbuckling swordsplay, and cunning plans. Kudos to the gorgeous costuming, so apt in a flowering garden with green all around. The entire production team has done an excellent job of purveying the ideal atmosphere for such a tale of love lost and found again. THE ROMANTICS is the perfect escape for a warm summer weekend day. And it’s free besides.

Johnny Austen and Maegan McConnell – Photo by Elaine L. Mura

THE ROMANTICS runs through September 25, 2022 with performances at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Kings Road Park is located at 1000 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood, CA 90069. Tickets are free, but donations are gratefully accepted. To reserve (recommended), go online.

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