The Fantasticks is the longest-running musical in the world. It is also the longest running show in the history of the American Theatre, starting life as a one act staging at Barnard College in the summer of 1959. When it opened in New York, the press was so tepid that producer Lore Noto almost closed it after a week. The Show is currently still running at the same theatre it opened in and continues to clock up numerous performances.
Les Romanesques by Edmond Rostand
Original Off Broadway Production: May 3 1960; Sullivan Street Playhouse, (17,162 performances)
Original 1960 cast included: Jerry Orbach, Rita Gardner, Kenneth Nelson, William Larson, Hugh Thomas, Tom Jones, George Curley & Richard Stauffer.
Original London Production: September 7, 1961; Apollo Theatre, (44 performances)
London Revival: July – September 1990; Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Broadway Revival: August 23 2003; Snapple Theatre (now Jerry Orbach Theatre), still running
London Revival: June 9, 2010 – June 26, 2010; The Duchess Theatre
What was your favourite production? Add your thoughts in the comments box
In a small town, two houses are separated by a wall (played by a mute actor). The mysterious narrator El Gallo explains that Matt and Luisa live next door to one another and have fallen in love, but their fathers are embattled in a family feud and have ordered them apart. He asks the audience to “Try to Remember” a simpler time in their life when they were first in love.
Luisa wants “Much More” in her life than the humdrum town can offer. Matt confesses his love for Luisa by singing over the wall (“Metaphor”). They both have active imaginations, and Luisa explains her fantasy that Matt will rescue her from abduction. The two fathers then send their respective children inside, and reveal that they have made up their feud to bring their children together, as telling a child “no” makes them want something even more (“Never Say No”). Eager to find a way to end the “feud,” Matt’s father, Mr. Hucklebee, tells Luisa’s father, Mr. Bellomy, that he has hired a professional to kidnap Luisa so that Matt can save her.
El Gallo arrives as the man hired to abduct Luisa. He explains he can enact a variety of different scenarios for them (“It Depends on What You Pay”). The fathers decide they want the best and most expensive option. Two travelling actors arrive and El Gallo enslists them to help him with the kidnapping.
That evening, Matt and Luisa sing of their love together (“Soon It’s Gonna Rain”). El Gallo and the actors put their plan into action and abduct Luisa (“Rape Ballet”). As planned, Matt manages to rescue her and the fathers can finally end their feud together, but El Gallo wonders how long this “Happy Ending” will last.
El Gallo explains that what seemed lovely by moonlight is not always the same in the glaring light of day. The fathers begin to squabble over their gardens (“This Plum is Too Ripe”), before Hucklebee reveals to the children that the entire abduction was staged. Matt and Luisa are upset and soon the situation evolves into a genuine feud between the fathers. Matt tries to win over Luisa with a real display of strength by challenging El Gallo to a duel. When he loses, Luisa is unimpressed by his boasting and they break up.
Matt decides to leave town in search of something more exciting (“I Can See It”). The fathers are both upset at the situation, and remark that gardening is easier than parenting (“Plant a Radish”). Luisa comes across El Gallo and asks him to take her on an adventure, but we soon see that both Luisa and Matt have realised that the outside world can be a harsh place (“Round and Round”).
El Gallo reveals that he had to hurt both Luisa and Matt so they could learn to value each other. Matt returns home and finds Luisa, and they both discover that the adventure they both wanted is really with each other (“They Were You”). At the sight of their children’s reunion, the fathers end their feud once more as Matt and Luisa embark on their new life together.
- Try To Remember
- Louisa’s Intro
- Bird Magic
- Much More
- Matt’s Intro
- This Girl
- Huck’s Intro
- The Wall
- I’ll Marry
- Bell’s Intro
- Never Say No
- It Depends On What You Pay
- It Depends On What You Pay Reprise
- Moonlight #1
- Moonlight #2
- In the Glen
- Soon It’s Gonna Rain
- Rape Ballet
- After the Ballet
- Happy Ending
- Opening Act II (Part I)
- Opening Act II (Part II)
- Opening Act III (Part III)
- This Plum Is Too Ripe
- The Quarrel
- I Can See It
- An Episode
- Rebuilding Wall #1
- Rebuilding Wall #2
- Plant A Radish
- Much More Reprise
- Round and Round
- Distant Carousel
- Beyond that road
- Finale: They Were You, Metaphor Reprise, Try To Remember Reprise
- Bows & Exit Music
UK: Josef Weinberger
USA: Musical Theatre International