The Fantasticks - SYNOPSIS

1960 Off-Broadway
The Fantasticks the Musical - Plot Synopsis

Act I

Two houses are separated by a wall (portrayed by a mute actor) in an unspecified American town.

A mysterious bandit, El Gallo, tells about the kind of September "when love was an ember about to billow" ("Try to Remember"). He begins to narrate the plot of the play. Two young people, Matt and Luisa, live next door to each other and fall in love. However, their fathers are feuding and order them not to speak to each other. Luisa fantasizes about the experiences she wants to have in her life ("Much More"). Matt then delivers a speech about his love for Luisa, calling over the wall to her in a mock literary/heroic way ("Metaphor"). Matt and Luisa climb to the top of the wall and speak secretly of Luisa's romantic vision of Matt saving her from kidnapping. Matt's father, Mr. Hucklebee, then appears and tells about his philosophy of life and gardening (don't over-water). He orders Matt to go inside the house. Luisa's father, Mr. Bellomy, arrives and gives a contrasting philosophy of life and gardening (plenty of water). He orders Luisa inside. He then calls to Hucklebee, and the two old friends boast about their cleverness in pretending to feud as a means to ensure that their children fall in love. They note that to manipulate children you need merely to say "no" ("Never Say No"). Hucklebee tells Bellomy of his plan to end the feud by having Luisa "kidnapped" by a professional abductor so that Matt can "rescue" her and appear heroic.

The hired professional, El Gallo, appears and offers the fathers a menu of different varieties of "rape" – in the literary sense of an abduction or kidnapping – that he can simulate ("It Depends on What You Pay"). Deciding to spare no expense for their beloved children (within reason), the fathers agree to a "first class" abduction scene. A disheveled old actor with a failing memory, Henry Albertson, arrives with his sidekick, Mortimer, a Cockney dressed as an American Indian. El Gallo engages them to help with the staged kidnapping. Matt and Luisa return to speak of their love and hint at physical intimacy ("Soon It's Gonna Rain"). El Gallo and the actors burst in and carry out the moonlit abduction scenario; Matt "defeats" the three ("Rape Ballet"). The feud is ended and the wall between the houses torn down, with the children and the fathers joined in a picturesque final tableau ("Happy Ending"). El Gallo collects the stage properties used in the "abduction" and wonders aloud how long the lovers and their fathers will be able to maintain their elaborately joyful poses. He and The Mute leave.

Act II

The children and fathers are discovered in the same poses but are visibly exhausted by the effort. El Gallo observes that what seemed romantic by moonlight may lose its charm when exposed to the harsh light of day. He exchanges his moon for a blazing sun. The fathers and lovers begin to complain about one another, noticing all the flaws that have become glaringly visible by daylight ("This Plum Is Too Ripe"). The children try to recreate their romantic mood from the previous night and mock their fathers. Eventually, in a fit of pique, Hucklebee reveals that the kidnapping and the feud were fake. Matt and Luisa are mortified, and the fathers' mutual recrimination quickly escalates into a real feud; they storm off to their respective houses. Matt sees El Gallo and, in a desperate attempt to regain his honor and Luisa's love, challenges him to a duel. El Gallo easily disarms Matt and leaves him embarrassed. Matt and Luisa then argue; she calls him a poseur, while he calls her childish.

Matt is eager to leave the provincial town. He and El Gallo discuss his gleaming vision of adventure ("I Can See It"). Henry and Mortimer return and lead Matt off to see the world. A month passes, and the fathers have rebuilt the wall. They meet and speak sadly of their children; Luisa is like a statue and does nothing but sit and dream; Matt still hasn't returned. They then sing about the uncertainties of raising children, as compared with the reliability of vegetable gardening ("Plant a Radish"). Luisa sees El Gallo watching her and is intrigued by the handsome, experienced bandit. Impulsively, she asks him to take her away to see the world. In a long fantasy sequence, they preview a series of romantic adventures through a mask of unreality, while in the background Matt is being abused and beaten by Henry and Mortimer portraying a series of unpleasant exotic employers. Luisa's fantasies become increasingly frenzied, exhausting and darkly underscored ("Round and Round").

El Gallo tells Luisa to pack her things for the journey, but before she goes inside to do so, he asks her to give him her treasured necklace, a relic of her dead mother, as a pledge that she will return. As she goes inside, El Gallo promises her a world of beauty and grandeur; at the same time, Matt approaches, giving a contrasting version of the cruel experiences that one can suffer ("I Can See It" (reprise)). As Luisa disappears, El Gallo turns to leave, the injured Matt makes a pitiful attempt to stop him from hurting Luisa, but El Gallo knocks him away and disappears. Luisa returns to find that El Gallo has left with her necklace, and she sits in tears. El Gallo, as the narrator, explains poetically that he had to hurt Matt and Luisa, and also himself in the process. Matt comforts Luisa, and he tells her a little about his experiences, and the two realize that everything they wanted was each other ("They Were You"; "Metaphor" (reprise)), but that they now understand that more deeply. The Fathers return joyfully and are about to tear down the wall, when El Gallo reminds them that the wall must always remain ("Try to Remember (reprise)").

Album Songs: The Fantasticks the Musical Songs Lyrics
Synopsis to The Fantasticks musical Plot

The Fantasticks the Musical Lyrics

Try to Remember Lyrics
Much More Lyrics
Metaphor Lyrics
Never Say No Lyrics
It Depends On What You Pay
Soon It's Gonna Rain
Happy Ending
This Plum Is Too Ripe
I Can See It
Plant a Radish
Round and Round
They Were You
Try to Remember (reprise)