To be honest it’s a silly little musical, which just so happens to have run Off Broadway for 51 years. But this is one of the most beloved musicals in history, in September 2014 the show celebrated its 20,000th performance. On May 3 the show will have its final performance.
It involves two fathers a son, daughter, a narrator with the Latino name of El Gallo. Starting with a bare stage, a trunk and the narrator juggling while the actors setting up the stage. Most of the props and sets are pantomimed.
The Fantasticks, a 1960 musical with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones tells a story, concerning two neighboring fathers who trick their children, Luisa and Matt, into falling in love by pretending to feud (after all everyone knows the way to get kids to do what you want you just tell them the opposite). The fathers hire traveling actors to stage a mock abduction, so that Matt can heroically seem to save Luisa, ending the supposed feud. When the children discover the deception, they reject the arranged love match and separate. Each then gains disillusioning experiences of the real world and a duet between El Gallo and Matt (Beyond that road lies a shining world. Beyond that road lies despair. Beyond that road lies a world that’s gleaming. People who are scheming), seen in parallel fantasy sequences. Which includes El Gallo breaking Luisa’s heart and beating up Matt when he tries to protect Luisa (Round and Round).
Matt returns, and he tells her a little about his experiences in the, and the two realize that everything they wanted was each other, but that they now understand that more deeply. The Fathers then return joyfully and are about to tear down the wall, when El Gallo reminds them that the wall must always remain
The “orchestra” consists of a piano and a harp, but it features famous songs such as “Try To Remember” and “Soon it’s Gonna Rain.”
The original production featured Jerry Orbach as El Gallo. Other notable actors who appeared in the Off-Broadway and touring production throughout its long run included Liza Minnelli, Elliott Gould, F. Murray Abraham, Glenn Close, Keith Charles, Kristin Chenoweth, Bert Convy.
A summer stock production of the play in 1978 featured the last professional performance of a twenty-one-year-old actor in the role of El Gallo. Thirty-seven years later he is my wife’s favorite blogger (I hope), and chief writer of this site.