The musical The Fantasticks tells an allegorical story, loosely based on the play The Romancers (Les Romanesques) by Edmond Rostand, concerning two neighboring fathers who put up a wall between their houses to ensure that their children fall in love, because they know children always do what their parents forbid. After the children do fall in love, they discover their fathers' plot and each go off and experience the world. Finally they return to each other and the love they had, having learned from the world to recognise their true feelings.
The cast of characters includes Hucklebee and his son, Matt, Bellomy and his daughter, Luisa, with the old actor Henry, the man who dies Mortimer, and the narrator and bandit El Gallo.
The classic score features the songs Much More, I Can See It and Try To Remember.
Musical with lyrics by Tom Jones, music by Harvey Schmidt, and book by Tom Jones, suggested by Rostand's Les Romantiques.
Apart from Edmond Rostand's The Romancers, elements of The Fantasticks story are drawn from the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream as well as Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore. The Fantasticks originally opened in 'off-Broadway' in New York on 3 May 1960 and played a total of 17,162 performances before closing on 13 January 2002 to become the longest running show of any kind in the United States and the longest running musical in the world. Since it's premiere in 1960 te musical has played in over 2000 cities and towns in the United States. Internationally there have been more than 700 productions in 67 countries. The London West End Premiere took place on 7 September 1961 at the Apollo Theatre, but it only managed a five-week run.
Original West End London Production 1961
Opened 7 September 1961, Closed 14 October 1961 at the Apollo Theatre
44 regular performances, with no previews.
The cast featured Terence Cooper as 'El Gallo', Timothy Bateson as 'Bellomy', Michael Barrington as 'Hucklebee', Stephanie Voss as 'Luisa', Peter Gilmore as 'Matt', John Wood as 'Henry Albertson', John Cater as 'Mortimer', and Melvyn Hayes as 'the Prentice'.
Directed by Word Baker, with sets by Ed Wittstein, costumes by Rosemary Carvill and Hilary Virgo, and lighting by Joe Davis.
London Revival 1970
Previewed 1 May 1970, Opened 3 May 1970, Closed 24 May 1970 at the Hampstead Theatre
26 regular performances (including a special extra 'midnight matinee' on Friday 22 May), plus 2 previews, for a total of 28 performances.
The cast featured John Gower as 'El Gallo', David Bauer as 'Bellomy', Mike Murray as 'Hucklebee', Beth Anne Cole as 'Luisa', Billy Boyle as 'Matt', Clyde Pollitt as 'Henry Albertson', David Suchet as 'Mortimer', and David Pugh as 'the Mute'.
Directed by Anton Rodgers and Claude Chagrin, with designs and lighting by John Halle.
London Revival 1990
Previewed 23 July 1990, Opened 24 July 1990, Closed 4 September 1990 (in repertory) at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
25 regular performances, with 1 preview, for a total of 26 performances.
The cast featured Erick Ray Evans as 'El Gallo', Anthony O'Donnell as 'Bellomy', Roy Hudd as 'Hucklebee', Emma Amos as 'Luisa', Anthony Barclay as 'Matt', Basil Hoskins as 'Henry Albertson', Mark Addy as 'Mortimer', and Jonathan Markwood and Rachel Pittman as 'the Mutes'.
Directed by Ian Talbot, with designs by Paul Farnsworth, choreography by Kenn Oldfield, and lighting by Ian Callander.
London Revival 1996
Previewed 30 July 1996, Opened 7 August 1996, Closed 15 September 1996 at the King's Head Theatre
39 regular performances, 7 previews, for a total of 46 performances.
The cast featured Jonathan Morris as 'El Gallo', John Walters as 'Bellomy', Roger Bingham as 'Hucklebee', Katey Crawford Kastin as 'Luisa', Joseph Millson as 'Matt', Michael Cotterill as 'Henry Albertson', Kim Joyce as 'Mortimer', Tim Eagle as 'the Mute'.
Directed by Dan Crawford, with choreography by Elizabeth Blake, designs by Alban Oliver, and lighting by Paul Emery.
1st West End London Revival 2010
Previewed 24 May 2010, Opened 9 June 2010, Closed 26 June 2010 at the Duchess Theatre
22 regular performances, with 17 previews, for a total of 39 performances. (This production had been booking up to 4 September 2010, which would have been a total of 102 regular performances, plus previews).
A major revival of the musical The Fantasticks in London
The cast featured Hadley Fraser as 'El Gallo', David Burt as 'Bellomy', Clive Rowe as 'Hucklebee', Lorna Want as 'Luisa', Luke Brady as 'Matt', Edward Petherbridge as 'Henry', Paul Hunter as 'Mortimer', and Carl Au as 'the Mute', Ross Aldred, Matthew Craig, and Ceili O'Connor.
Directed and choreographed by Amon Miyamoto, with sets by Rumi Matsui, costumes by Nicky Shaw, lighting by Rick Fisher, and sound by Mike Walker.
David Burt's London theatre credits include playing the roles of the original cast of Trevor Nunn and John Caird's production of the Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg musical Les Miserables at the Barbican Theatre, and transfer to the West End's Palace Theatre in 1985; the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical Jesus Christ Superstar at the Lyceum Theatre in 1996; the Andrew Sabiston and Timothy Williams musical Napoleon at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2000; the Pet Shop Boy's Closer to Heaven at the Arts Theatre in 2001; JM Barrie's Peter Pan at the Savoy Theatre in 2003; the Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta The Pirates of Penzance at the Savoy Theatre in 2004; the Roger Cook and Les Reed musical Beautiful and Damned at the Lyric Theatre in 2004; the Philip Henderson and Stephen Clark musical The Far Pavilions at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2005; the Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern musical Show Boat at the Royal Albert Hall in 2006; Kath Gotts' Bad Girls the Musical at the Garrick Theatre in 2007; and Nicholas De Jongh's Plague Over England at the Finborough Theatre, and transfer to the West End's Duchess Theatre in 2009.
Clive Rowe's London theatre credits include playing the roles of 'Feste' in Edward Dick's revival of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in 2008; 'the Baker' in Will Tuckett's revival of Stephen Sondheim's Into The Woods at the Royal Opera House's Linbury Studio in 2007; 'the Dryer'/'the Bus' in George C Wolfe's production of the Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori musical Caroline, or Change at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 2006; 'Thersites' in Alan Strachan's revival of William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in 1998; 'Robert Smee' in John Caird and Fiona Laird's revival of JM Barrie's Peter Pan at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 1997; 'Nicely-Nicely Johnson' in Richard Eyre's revival of Frank Loesser's Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 1996; 'Harry' in Sam Mendes' revival of Stephen Sondheim's Company at the Donmar Warehouse in 1995, and transfer to the West End's Albery Theatre in 1996; 'Pompey' in Steven Pimlott's revival of William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure at the Barbican Theatre in 1995; 'Enoch Snow' in Nicholas Hytner's revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 1992, and transfer to the West End's Shaftesbury Theatre in 1993; and 'Rum' in Simon Callow's production of the Oscar Hammerstein and Georges Bizet musical Carmen Jones at the Old Vic Theatre in 1991.
"It's pleasing to report that Hadley Fraser is now back where he belongs: starring in the West End. He is the narrator in The Fantasticks and gets to sing the best songs, most notably Try to Remember... The story Fraser has to tell did not, if I am honest, especially grab me... still, under Amon Miyamoto's direction, it is done with great flair and it has a lot to commend it, not least a great comic double act from Edward Petherbridge and Paul Hunter,who seem to be performing Waiting for Godot as the show goes on around them. In its weird way, it's rather wonderful, but take Fraser out of the equation, and it would all fall flat on its face." The Sunday Telegraph
"The Fantasticks is the tale of an impossibly cute young girl, Luisa, and Matt, an impossibly cute boy-next-door, whose fathers (played by the divine Clive Rowe and the dangerous David Burt, both wasting their time) pretend to hate each other in order to turn their children into star-crossed lovers (like Romeo and Juliet). So the fathers build a huge wall, which is played by an actor, as in A Midsummer Night's Dream's play-within-a-play, Pyramus And Thisbe. The moon shines as a bright disc (more Dream) and travelling players (Hamlet) make their entrance and exit out of a travelling trunk and behave like Beckettian tramps or Shakespearian clowns... The single memorable song has the line: 'Try to remember that time in September... then follow.' Try as I might to follow, I not only lost the plot in the staggeringly tedious second half, I also lost the will to live. Played as pure whimsy, as light as thistledown, it might have worked - just. Only Edward Petherbridge's bemused and bewildered old player gets it right. In Amon Miyamoto's otherwise heavy-handed production, the fairydust twinkles and the snow made of white paper is lovely, but the rest was easily bettered by the loo paper and the shiny new hand-drier in the lavatory." The Mail on Sunday
"The eminent Japanese director Amon Miyamoto has breathed fresh life into it and The Fantasticks has risen from the grave, once again showering the stage with its particular brand of stardust... Hadley Fraser is excellent as the Narrator and the young lovers' fathers - a bullish Clive Rowe and a highly comedic David Burt - form a polished double act that would make a good show in itself. But when it comes to sheer scene-stealing the prize must go to the veteran Edward Petherbridge as the Old Actor with his failing memory and creaking bones. With his surreal companion, played scarily by Paul Hunter, they bring a different Waiting For Godot-esque aspect to the show. Rumi Matsui's set is the simplest - only two poles on an uncluttered stage - providing much atmosphere. Disappointingly the second half drags and it becomes too sugary - even the lyrics by Tom Jones (not that one) and Harvey Schmidt's music become a tad wearing. But go anyway. It is a gentle evening." The Daily Express
The Fantasticks in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 24 May 2010, opened on 9 June 2010, and closed on 26 June 2010 - was booking up to 4 September 2010