“Try to Remember”: The Autumnal Opening of “The Fantasticks”

The world’s longest-running musical ran for 42 years and 17,162 performances, blocks away from the bright lights and glitter of Broadway’s Great White Way.

The Fantasticks opened at the intimate Sullivan Street Playhouse in New York’s Greenwich Village on May 3, 1960. For the original production, $900 were spent on the set and $541 were spent on costumes at a time when budgets for Broadway musicals typically exceeded $250,000. The story is an allegory, based on Edmond Rostand’s 1894 play, Les Romanesques. It centers around two neighboring fathers who trick their children into falling in love by setting up elaborate obstacles for them to overcome. The music is by Harvey Schmidt and the book and lyrics are by Tom Jones.

The show opens and closes with the autumnal nostalgia of the song, Try to Remember. Through the song, the human imagination transforms the blank canvas of the show’s sparse sets into a rich tapestry of memory. The instrumentation is limited to piano, harp, drums, and bass. Perhaps no Broadway musical, however elaborate, has exceeded the dramatic power of this intimate chamber piece.

Here is the original cast album, featuring Jerry Orbach:

Recordings

  • The Fantasticks (Original 1960 Off-Off Broadway Cast) Amazon

Photograph: members of the original off-Broadway cast of The Fantasticks in 1960. 

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

1 thought on ““Try to Remember”: The Autumnal Opening of “The Fantasticks””

  1. What a lovely, nostalgic piece. I played the part of Matt about 55 years ago at Irondequoit High School, a Rochester suburb. I have always loved this musical. Thanks.

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