In the early 1950's Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones were students at the University of Texas. During their senior year in 1955, they became so enchanted with the works of French playwright, Edmond Rostand,
Over 50 years of The Fantasticksthat they read and re-read his three most famous plays and then began to search for others. From Rostand's biography, Schmidt and Jones learned of another play - the first ever written by Rostand when he was 26 years old in 1894. Finding no copies anywhere of the mentioned play, they sent to a rare-book dealer in Paris, who unearthed a copy in French. Their one single impulse was to turn this tender little tale into a modern musical.
After graduation, Schmidt and Jones descended upon New York and began writing material for little musical reviews and night club entertainers. They didn't get around to fulfilling their college dream until 1959, when The Fantasticks had a tryout at Barnard College to an enthusiastic audience. A few months later the show was produced in New York and the rest is history.
The Fantasticks tells a simple tale of "a boy, girl, two fathers and a wall." Using theatrical techniques from many parts of the world and many periods in history, it urges the audience to use their imagination, to follow the narrator, El Gallo, as he creates for us a world of moonlight and magic, and later of honky-tonk carnivals and burning disillusion.
The Fantasticks, as LIFE magazine once said, is "a sophisticated story about innocence." Since its opening in May of 1960 at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in New York, and its subsequent revival at the Jerry Orbach Theater at the Snapple Theater Center, it has become the longest running production of any kind in the history of American Theater.