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The Fantasticks (Original 1960 Off-Off Broadway Cast) Cast Recording, Original recording remastered

4.9 out of 5 stars 95 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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On May 3, 1960, a chamber-sized variation on Romeo and Juliet by composer Harvey Schmidt and writer-lyricist Tom Jones opened off-off-Broadway at the Sullivan Street Playhouse. On May 3, 2000, The Fantasticks opened again at the Sullivan Street Playhouse, celebrating 40 continuous years of performances and having long since become the longest-running musical in the history of the world. And while many cast members have come and gone, it's the original cast recording that has become an indelible part of our memory, from the dual pianos dotting the overture and Jerry Orbach's rich reading of "Try to Remember" to the fathers' lament "Never Say No" and the gorgeous duet "Soon It's Gonna Rain." Even better, this anniversary edition CD benefits from remastered sound (you can now hear the harp strum in the opening bars) and a new booklet that includes a note from Jones, an introductory essay, and (drumroll, please) full lyrics. Yes, it's still true that the voices may not have the sheer beauty some modern ears might expect, and the pit band (augmented from two players to five for this recording) sounds a bit dated, but who cares? It's The Fantasticks, an essential piece of musical theater history. Long may it run. --David Horiuchi
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Product Details

  • Composer: Tom Jones
  • Audio CD (April 25, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Cast Recording, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Verve
  • ASIN: B00004STPR
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,127 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Williamson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 2, 2002
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It was the spring of 1960. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the President, and Senator John F. Kennedy had yet to squeak by VP Richard Nixon in a to become President. Elvis Presley had recently been discharged from the U.S. Army. The average American's annual salary was around $4800, and minimum wage was $1.00 per hour. Cadillac had lowered their high tail fins. Elizabeth Taylor won an Oscar for her performance in Butterfield 8. The first manned space flight wouldn't take place for another year.

The formation of the Peace Corps was a year away as well. Gary Powers was shot down in a U2 spy plane over the Soviet Union. Barbie dolls had just been introduced the year before. The Flintstones were almost five months away from their premiere. The Beatles hadn't even cut their first single record, and there were no Russian missiles in Cuba. Osama bin Laden was only three years old. The World Trade Center wasn't even on the drawing board yet.

But in early May, a small band of actors entered the Sullivan Street Playhouse, a tiny 150-seat theater in Greenwich Village, to perform a beautiful, romantic little musical about a boy, a girl and the pains of young love.

The week that The Fantasticks opened on its sparse stage, it was suggested to producer Lore Noto that he close the show. It suffered from mixed reviews, and the ticket sales could have been better. He decided to try and keep the show running for awhile, to the relief of the relatively unknown cast members. One of these was a young actor with a rich baritone voice named Jerry Orbach, who played the role of El Gallo, the narrator.
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Format: Audio CD
If a show opens in 1960 and is still running after about 16,000 performances, one can reasonably assume it is a good show in every sense of the words. Standing on the other pole (so to speak) from the current run of Broadway's visually rich/musically barren spectacles, <The Fantasticks> is a charming little work designed for a basement production and so perfect that many have seen it several times, especially when friends come in from out of state. In fact, when they wanted to close it at last, the neighborhood would not let them!
So I don't have to sing the praises of this classic, which has been available for many years on the original cast LP. Now the Good News is that it has been made available in a "re-mastered, completely repackaged edition," as the press release expresses it on the Decca Broadway label (314 543 665-2). So sit back and enjoy once more the voices of Jerry Orbach, Kenneth Leson, Rita Gardner, William Larsen, Hugh Thomas, and all the others in this anti-spectacular with good dialogue, decent lyrics, and (Heaven be praised) lovely melodies. (And give the Rostand play, "The Romantiques," a read too. It is lovely.)
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THE FANTASTICKS is my favorite show. The simplicity of the show, and some of the most beautiful music written, has kept this show playing sine 1960.
I was glad to see the remaster of the original cast recording. Having purchased the Japanese tour, I was disappointed in some of the portrayals, and I'm glad to hear the original performers on this recording.
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From the first staccato notes of the solo piano to Jerry Orbach and company urging us to "Try to Remember" this is a classic CD. The music and lyrics, though possibly a little odd at first, is witty, whimisical, clever, smart, and beautiful. This is one of the few cast albums of a show in which there is not a single bad song. The performances do nothing but enhance the music. This simple little show, which has been running off-Broadway for over thirty years, is well represented with this CD. Thirty years of audiences can't be wrong, and they aren't. This is a wonderful recording of a wonderful show. I gureente you will not be dissapointed.
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Just scan the prior reviews and you will see an overwhelming percentage of raves regarding this perennial "little" musical about two hopeful young lovers and their respective fathers, who use reverse psychology to get and keep them together. Here are some other things you should know about THE FANTASTICKS if you don't already:

Its original Off-Broadway run lasted 42 years, from 1960-2002. This makes it the world's longest-running musical of any kind. Then it was revived in 2006, and still continues to play Off-Broadway.

Because it is small-scale, it has had numerous revivals around the world and is a favorite with amateur groups.

The original cast included Jerry (LAW AND ORDER) Ohrbach, and Kenneth (THE BOYS IN THE BAND) Nelson.

The composers, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, have given us I DO! I DO!, a musicalized version of THE RAINMAKER called 110 IN THE SHADE, and numerous other musical plays.

This Tom Jones is not the Welsh singer who sang "What's New, Pussycat?" and other pop hits.

"Rape" in this show means abduction, not carnal violation.

The most popular song from THE FANTASTICKS, of course, is "Try To Remember," but "Soon It's Gonna Rain" has achieved wide popularity, too.

At present, the CD of the original Off-Broadway cast album is amazingly cheap. So if you can't see it, HEAR it!
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