T3's The Fantasticks flexes impressive comic muscle whenever Jerry Haynes and Jac Alder take the stage. I've seen Mr. Haynes in several Dallas shows, so I wasn't surprised by his masterful mischief. I'd never seen Jac Alder perform, however. Mr. Alder happens to be the artist director of Theatre Three; his tart, agile line readings here suggest he should spend less time behind the desk and more in front of the footlights.
As a frail classical actor hired to stage a crisis in the lovers' lives, Terry Vandivort is self-indulgence channeled into hilarious self-critique. At one point during the show, his senile thespian shuffled onstage with a Theatre Three playbill for The Fantasticks, flipped through it, then contemptuously cast it aside, snorting, "I'm not even in this show."
Surprisingly (for me, anyway), The Fantasticks proves to be a devilish spoiler of commercial theater's most cherished conceits about love. As long as Theatre Three understands this, they will satisfy audiences malnourished by the competition's holiday treacle.
The Fantasticks runs through January 5. Call (214) 871-3300.