About The Fantasticks
It’s the world’s longest-running musical, and the plot seems appropriately timeless: though conflict keeps two neighbors feuding, their children Matt and Luisa have fallen deeply in love. It takes a new turn with the opening number, “Try to Remember,” an ode to tenderness lost sung by the mysterious character El Gallo. The men have hired the wily liar to kidnap Luisa, thus setting up Matt to be the hero by rescuing her. And the fathers’ feud was a ruse as well, dreamt up to get their offspring to begin a seemingly forbidden romance. But their well-intended scheme adds up to a heartbreaking, yet gently comic, tale that explores themes of love, loss, and growing up, described by some as a Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending.
The first New York production ran for what one might call a while—17,162 performances to be exact. It closed in 2002, only to return four years later, this time in The Theater Center’s Jerry Orbach Theater. It’s a fitting choice, as the late actor was the first to step into El Gallo’s shoes, a role that would set the stage for a storied career. The revival, directed by author and lyricist Tom Jones, has garnered many hurrahs, including some from Ben Brantley of the New York Times, who hurrahed that the production “ . . . is a perfectly pitched, disarmingly sincere performance that captures why The Fantasticks became the enduring favorite it did” and “ . . . The Fantasticks is the last word in theatrical sophistication.”