Over the 57 years since he wrote the book and lyrics to the long-running phenomenon The Fantasticks, Tom Jones has continued to tinker with the show.
“It Depends on What You Pay” has many new lyrics, “The Rape Ballet” has been retitled “The Abduction Ballet,” and script changes have been made throughout the run.
Now, as the 2006 revival gets ready to play its final performance June 4, Jones has put in one last rewrite: a new version of the Act II song “Round and Round.” In the number, El Gallo uses a magical mask to show The Girl scenes from the “real world,” most of which involve The Boy being mistreated in various far-flung corners of the globe.
Jones explained that he has always felt that the song never quite conveyed the darker elements he intended. “The mask, not unlike the Red Shoes [in the film The Red Shoes], has a darker purpose or power. I want the feeling of a masked ball that becomes more and more grotesque as Luisa inhabits this world for the first time.”
To that end, Tom has changed the dialogue in the number, as well as some lyrics. The number has been restaged by Jones himself. (Original director Word Baker died in 1995; Jones staged the revival.) Composer Harvey Schmidt has retired to his native Texas.
The Fantasticks originally opened May 3, 1960. As of June 4, 2017, the production will have played a total of 21,552 performances in New York: 17,162 at the old Sullivan Street Playhouse and 4,390 at the Jerry Orbach Theater. The original cast included Jerry Orbach, Rita Gardner, Kenneth Nelson, and Jones himself, under the stage name Thomas Bruce. The first cast of the revival featured Burke Moses and Santino Fontana.
The final cast of The Fantasticks consists of Bradley Dean as El Gallo (The Narrator), Samantha Bruce as Luisa (The Girl), Nathan Goodrich as The Boy (Matt), Dan Sharkey as The Boy’s Father (Hucklebee), Dale Hensley as The Girl's Father (Bellomy), MacIntyre Dixon as The Old Actor (Henry), Michael Nostrand as The Man Who Dies (Mortimer), and Aaron Wright as The Mute. The production also features Scott Willis, John Thomas Waite, and Olivia Huntley.
The Fantasticks plays at The Jerry Orbach Theater in the Theater Center, located at 210 West 50th Street at Broadway. Tickets can be ordered by calling (212) 921-7862 or by visiting Ticketmaster.com.