Even though I wore out every album the Beatles released on Capitol between 1964 and 1969, I don’t think there was an album I heard more often growing up than the original “Fantasticks” cast album with Jerry Orbach et al. My dad loved the cast album and dragged me to several productions of the musical. I think he appreciated the generational conflict woven into the story, the wit of the lyrics and the singable melodies. He (of course) identified with the parents; I (of course) identified with the kids.
In New York this past week I dragged my oldest daughter to see the revival of “The Fantasticks” at the Snapple Theater Center on 50th and Broadway. The original production famously opened off-Broadway at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village in 1960 and continued its run for a mere 42 years. It was one of the unheralded victims of 9/11, closing in January 2002.
The revival is wonderful. Author and lyricist Tom Jones directs and steals the show, taking a hilarious turn as the histrionic old actor Henry under Jones’s stage name “Thomas Bruce” (photo above). The cast is good, but it should especially be noted that Burke Moses ably fills Orbach’s shoes as El Gallo. Ben Brantley’s slightly disillusioned New York Times review captures the drama in this revival of the musical: