Original Off Broadway Cast

The Fantasticks [1960 Original Off Broadway Cast]

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On June 13, 1960, MGM Records made a recording of an off-Broadway musical by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt called The Fantasticks. At the time, the production was struggling to stay alive, and producer Lore Noto thought a cast recording might help generate more interest and some extra revenue. Since then, The Fantasticks has become a veritable Rock of Gibraltar on the theatrical landscape, having broken every longevity record for a musical production. This spring 2000 re-release of the cast recording, remastered in 24-bit digital audio, coincides with the 40th anniversary of the play's opening. It's also a deservedly first-class treatment of a sweet, clever, yet deceptively unassuming score. "Try to Remember," "Soon It's Gonna Rain," and "Much More" are the most famous songs in The Fantasticks, but there's not a number here that won't invoke smiles of pleasure, outright laughter at their lyricism and humor. Played on only five instruments, the music is hardly over-scored, but the players make the most of every note and nuance, and the beauty of the remastering, apart from its clarity, is the depth of the sound, which gives the spare forces every possible advantage. The singers -- Jerry Orbach, Kenneth Nelson, Rita Gardner, William Larsen, and Hugh Thomas -- never had a better showing than they get here, and it's possible even in the very cluttered "Rape Ballet" to fully and properly discern all of the rapid-fire Shakespearean conceits. The stereo recording has the discreet separation typical of its era, but the tapes have held up well and the richness of tone is a pleasant surprise. In music so tightly focused on the innocence and joys of youth, the rejuvenation of that sound makes this edition essential listening. The new annotation by Peter Filichia is also a welcome addition.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
The Fantasticks, musical
1 2:00 Amazon
2 2:44
3 2:33 Amazon
4 4:13 Amazon
5 2:13 Amazon
6 4:19 Amazon
7 1:12 Amazon
8 4:36 Amazon
9 3:12 Amazon
10 3:34 Amazon
11 4:04 Amazon
12 2:30 Amazon
13 5:58 Amazon
14 0:31 Amazon
15 2:42 Amazon
16 2:05 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick