The Fantasticks librettist and lyricist Tom Jones has penned a new version of his classic musical—in collaboration with Flint Repertory Producing Artistic Director Michael Lluberes—that will premiere June 3–19 at the not-for-profit professional theatre company in Michigan.
Jones and Harvey Schmidt's The Fantasticks tells an allegorical story loosely based on Edmund Rostand's 1894 play The Romancers (Les Romanesques), concerning two neighboring parents who trick their children into falling in love by pretending to feud. The LGBTQIA+ focused rewrite features two young gay men, Matt and Lewis, at the center of the story, instead of a young man and woman (the original characters were Matt and Luisa).
Directed by Lluberes, the cast will feature Jeremiah Porter as Matt, Neil McCaffrey (Broadway's Billy Elliot the Musical) as Lewis, Jason Briggs as Henry, Ben Cherry (Broadway's Indecent) as El Gallo, Janet Haley as The Mute, Diane Hill as Hattie Mae, Richard Payton as Mortimer, and Catherine Shaffner as Mildred.
“Transforming the boy and the girl into two boys (Matt and Lewis) is an idea I’ve had for a long time,” says Lluberes. “Rethinking the show through the lens of two young gay men reveals so much about first love, identity, and self-discovery.”
“I knew that to be done properly it would require a lot of rewriting, especially of lyrics. The more I thought about it, the more interesting it seemed. And when I actually began working on it, I became more and more enthusiastic,” adds Jones. “I had great fun doing it. I hope people have great fun viewing it.”
The upcoming production will also have choreography by Brad Willcuts, music direction by Brian E. Buckner, scenic design by Shane Cinal, costume design by Brandon McWilliams, and lighting design by Chelsie McPhilimy. Melissa Collins is the stage manager.
During its original run at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village, The Fantasticks logged a record-breaking 17,162 performances. When the original production closed in 2002, news of the closing made the front page of The New York Times. In 2006, the revival opened at The Theater Center, directed by Jones. That production closed June 4, 2017, after playing 4,390 performances in the Jerry Orbach Theatre, for a combined total of 21,552 performances in New York—still the longest-running musical production worldwide.
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