“The Fantasticks”

The Jerry Orbach Theater, New York • 18 July 2007 • 2pm
Book & Lyrics by Tom Jones. Music by Harvey Schmidt.

Directed by Tom Jones. With Stuart Marland (El Gallo), Anthony Fedorov (Matt), Whitney Bashor (Luisa), John Deyle (The Boy’s Father), Martin Vidnovic (The Girl’s Father), Tom Jones (The Old Actor [as Thomas Bruce]), Robert R. Oliver (Mortimer), Nick Spangler (The Mute).

This show is still as fresh and charming as when I first saw it at the Sullivan Street Playhouse during my first-ever trip to New York in 1997, five years before the original 42 year long run ended. It has the right mixture of comedic flair from the older characters and of innocence and grace from the two young actors, who are delightful. And of course the score is non-stop bliss from the first to the last note.

While seeing the show, I was trying to figure what it must have been for the theatregoers of 1960 to see something so conceptual and probably so different from anything they had ever seen. Nobody can quite tell when the concept musical was born (Lady in the Dark? Company?), but The Fantasticks certainly belongs in that list somewhere.

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