Fantasticks Director’s Note

Fantasticks Director’s Page

The Story about our Play

Book by: Tom Jones
Lyrics by: Tom Jones
Music by: Harvey Schmidt
Based on Les Romanesques by Edmond Rostand

The original production opened on May 3, 1960 at the 150-seat Sullivan Street Playhouse in New York’s Greenwich Village – where played for 17,162 performances!

It started 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 was forced to closed it after a week. But due primarily to Noto’s persistence, it took off and has become the
longest-running musical in history.

The original cast included actor Jerry Orbach (Dirty Dancing, Lumière in the film Beauty and the Beast, TV’s Law and Order”) as El Gallo.

Other performers in the show have included author Tom Jones (the author, not the pop singer), Liza Minnelli, John Davidson, Bert Convy, Bert Lahr, Stanley Holloway, Ricardo Montalban, David Cryer, Richard Chamberlain, John Carradine, Elliott Gould, F. Murray Abraham and Robert Goulet.

Upstairs at the Sullivan Street Playhouse, a The Fantasticks museum has been installed. There have been over fifteen touring companies in America and more than 66 foreign countries. The original investors have – so far – received a 9,620% return.

Last year in August, a production re-opened in New York at the Snapple Theater. It is still going strong.

“It is a delight – bewitching, bright and tasteful.”

  • New York Journal American

“A sophisticated story about innocence…the songs are distinguished and delightful.” –
Saturday Review”

Synopsis of the Play

Overture: And the empty stage is suddenly filled with actors rushing to be ready for the show. They leap into costumes and place their props and juggle oranges and finally, at the climax, throw clouds of colored paper into the air. Then the Narrator sings Try to Remember, an invitation for the audience to “follow” into the spirit of the play. After this, he introduces the characters: “A boy, a girl, two fathers, and a wall.” The girl, Luisa, tells us about her daydreams (Much More). Then the boy, Matt, and the girl sing an ardent love duet across the wall that separates them (Metaphor).

The feuding fathers appear and send the children packing. Left alone, the old men gleefully embrace across the wall and congratulate themselves on their knowledge of child psychology (Never Say No). The fathers have created the feud to make sure their children fall in love. This accomplished, they decide to end the feud with a flourish by
hiring El Gallo (who is actually our Narrator in bandit disguise). His job is to provide an abduction, which he insists upon calling a Rape. “It’s short and business-like,” he explains. As for the cost of the Rape, El Gallo explains it further, It Depends on What You Pay.

Next: Moonlight. El Gallo sets the scene with a speech “You Wonder How These Things Begin.” And the lovers meet before the approaching storm (Soon It’s Gonna Rain). Their tryst is interrupted by The Rape Ballet, during which El Gallo and his assistants stage an elaborate abduction, complete with sword fights, Indians, and a spectacular victory for the boy (Happy Ending).

Act Two begins in the sunlight as romanticism starts to wear thin (This Plum Is Too Ripe). The fathers quarrel. The lovers break up, and Matt starts off to see the world as the Narrator comments upon the young boy’s glorious dream (I Can See It). As the wall is safely rebuilt between them, the fathers return to their gardens and their friendship (Plant a Radish). The Narrator reassumes the disguise of the bandit and makes love to the girl, promising to take her into a world of parties and adventure (Round and Round). After this buildup, he walks out on her. And the boy comes back, disheveled and disillusioned. Both
of the children have been hurt. But they have grown up a bit in the process. As the Narrator explains, “There is a curious paradox,” the lovers reunite in a simple and unaffected way (They Were You).

The Autumn is over. Winter comes, bringing snow – and wisdom. And the entire cast except for the mute closes the show with a reprise of the opening song:

Deep in December, it’s nice to remember:
Without a hurt, the heart is hollow.
Deep in December, our hearts should remember,
And follow.

The Characters of the Fantasticks

El Gallo, the lead. He or she must sing several songs, including “Try to Rememer,” the most famous song in the play. Can be a baritone or tenor or a alto or soprano, but must be 25 or older.

The boy: A younger man, preferably a tenor.

The girl: From 18 to 25, a soprano.

The two parents: They should look like real parents.

The lead actor: An older man who is very funny.

The second actor: Can be any age from 16 to 35, also very funny.

The mute: Has no lines in the play, but this person moves the play along. We will try to make magic a part of this character’s bag of tricks.