The Fantasticks is the world’s-longest running musical written by Tom Jones with music by Harvey Schmidt. What started in a tiny theater in 1960 on Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, now resides smack dab in the middle of Time’s Square at the Snapple Theater. While the cast has boasted such notable names as Jerry Orbach, Rita Gardner, Liza Minnelli, Glenn Close, Kristin Chenoweth and Aaron Carter, the show’s main theme of young romance and the role a family plays in it has remained timeless and unchanged.
The show is a love story of two awkward teens who live next door to each other. While they believe their love affair is illicit, it is not. Their fathers have contrived a plan to get them together unbeknownst to their children. Once the gig is up, we watch as the two young lovers lash out against what has been planned for them by going on individual journeys to discover who they really are. The two young lovers, Matt & Luisa, as well as their fathers, Hucklebee and Bellomy, have some funny scenes that are filled with innuendos parents will understand but younger children may miss and not fully understand.
Located at the very intimate Jerry Orbach/Snapple Theater, the show has eight actors and uses a bare stage. The creative use of props by the actors gives the stage its scenery. My favorite prop was the a large trunk that sat on the left side of the stage and from where the two best characters in the show, Henry & Mortimer, enter and exit. No small feat as these two men are aged and some fantastic antics ensue when they enter and exit from the trunks.
The Fantasticks is a simple show: no fancy theater (actually the seats are quite uncomfortable and old), no wizz-bang sets, costumes or orchestras (only a 2-person ensemble accompanies the actors who never change costumes). It’s a classic piece of New York theater that appeals to a wide-range of audiences. It seems most appropriate for children ages 12 and up as they will be interested in the story as well as understand what is happening. Bring your patience as you must enter via a long stairway or a small elevator into the intimate lobby of the show. While the venue may not be the best, the show will resonate long after you’ve left.
*I was given complimentary tickets to see The Fantasticks. In no way has this influenced my review or opinions; they are my own.
All images courtesy of The Fantasticks on Broadway.
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