overture begins, the Mute enters, sees the audience and gestures to the
other players to join him on the platform upon which the show will be
played. A tattered drape which is lettered The Fantasticks" hangs at the
front of the platform. At stage right, there is a large box of
Next, The Boy's Father (HUCKLEBEE) enters half-dressed, shouting "I know
my cue." He notices the audience and bows. He is joined by The Girl's
Father (BELLOMY) who assists him in removing a bench from the stage. The
Girl (LUISA) enters in a white petticoat carrying a red rose. She dances
a few steps and exits. She is followed by The Boy (MATT), who adds a
chair to the set. The Narrator (El Gallo) enters and the company gathers
behind the drape in a dramatic tableau. They break their pose,
frantically grab props and costumes from the prop box and take their
places for the play. The Mute tosses bright squares of colored paper
into the air and El Gallo sits on the platform. The rest of the cast
listens as he sings "Try To Remember" to the audience, encouraging them
to recall the tender Septembers of their youth.
El Gallo introduces The Boy, The Girl, their Fathers and the wall that
separates them. He explains that The Girl began to notice a change in
her ugly duckling features when she reached 15. Now 16, her sudden
prettiness has led her to suspect that she is a princess and that her
glue paste necklace is real. In response to her enchantment with her
newfound identity, she sings "Much More," a plea for a life that is
beyond the everyday and full of magic - the kind of life for a girl
meant "to be kissed upon the eyes."
The Boy enters and declares his love for The Girl. A wall appears in the
form of a stick held by The Mute. In spite of it, the young couple vow
to be together ("Metaphor"). They discuss the risks they have taken to
meet at the wall, obviously savoring every moment of the danger. The
Girl reports a dream in which The Boy saved her from being abducted by a
band of scoundrels. In her dream, after her dramatic rescue, their
warring fathers agreed to allow them to live happily ever after.
However, they are brought back to reality by the appearance of The Boy's
Father in the garden. He threatens to make it even harder for the young
couple to see each other. The Boy responds by insisting that he will
only marry a girl of his own choosing. He leaves as The Girl is joined
by her father, who orders her inside.
The two Fathers embrace over the wall, revealing that they are really
the best of friends and are only pretending to be enemies to deceive
their offspring. They believe that if their children think they want
them to remain apart, they will be sure to come together. The Fathers
are sure their children would never have agreed to a prearranged
marriage between them. They explain how to manipulate children ("Never
Say No"). They are now searching for a way to end the feud, and settle
upon the notion of a planned abduction. Hucklebee has hired a
professional abductor to do the job. He appears in the form of El Gallo.
El Gallo agrees that he will pretend to kidnap The Girl, allowing The
Boy to save her. A battle will follow which The Boy will seem to win.
When the Fathers inquire about the cost, he replies "It Depends On What
You Pay;" such charades can be contracted at various prices. The Fathers
leave to rehearse their parts in the charade as Henry, an ancient actor
down on his luck and Mortimer, an "extra" dressed in a loincloth and
feather, are called forth from the prop box by El Gallo. Henry recalls
his great performances of the past and Mortimer demonstrates his special
expertise at dying.
El Gallo hangs a wooden moon as the lights soften and become blue. A
harp glissando is heard. The Girl and The Boy meet in a forest glen, in
September, before a rainfall. He promises her a happy ending and they
pretend the glen is their castle ("Soon It's Gonna Rain"). The Mute
sprinkles them with paper rain.
Their idyll is broken when Henry, Mortimer and El Gallo pretend to
attack them and attempt to kidnap The Girl ("Rape Ballet"). Henry and
Mortimer pretend that The Boy has mortally wounded them. The Boy and El
Gallo do battle and El Gallo simulates death in a highly dramatic
fashion. The music becomes jolly and triumphant. The young lovers rush
onto the platform and embrace. The Fathers rush in and embrace too.
Henry and Mortimer disappear into the prop box. The lovers and Fathers
sing "Happy Ending," striking a pretty pose. El Gallo ends the act by
commenting on the difficulty of holding such a pose. He takes the moon
and as he exits, declares that it is time for the intermission.
El Gallo returns with the moon and The Mute lowers the front drape to
reveal the lovers and their Fathers still trying to maintain their
tableau. El Gallo explains that "the play is never done until we've all
of us been burned a bit and burnished by the sun." He reverses the moon
and reveals the sun. The music grows more intense.
The group members break their pose and comment on the sudden heat. The
Girl notices that The Boy looks different in the sunlight. He comments
that he is not ready for marriage yet. The Girl dreams of doing
something exciting. The Boy eyes the road out of town longingly. The
Fathers begin to squabble about their opposing theories of gardening.
They all sing "This Plum Is Too Ripe" and the cynic is replacing the
scenic as the moonlight fades. The lovers miss the moon; the Fathers
miss the wall. In irritation, Hucklebee reveals that the Fathers staged
the abduction attempt to bring their offspring together.
The Girl declares that "we didn't need your moon or bandits. We're in
love! We could have made our own moons!" The Boy is bitter to discover
they were nothing more than puppets. Bellomy is furious with Hucklebee
for spoiling everything. The Fathers quarrel and set about building
another wall. The Boy challenges El Gallo to a real contest. El Gallo
easily disarms The Boy in front of The Girl. The Boy and The Girl battle
and she slaps him. He decides to take the road out of town; she decides
to take her hair down and go swimming in the stream. He threatens to
find his madness; she threatens to have an affair. He goes.
The Boy sings "I Can See It," describing the world he believes he will
find. His lyrics are countered by those of El Gallo, who sings of the
unpleasant surprises that are in store for The Boy. El Gallo sends him
off to learn the truth, then releases Henry and Mortimer, who are
dressed as pirates, to follow him.
El Gallo says "It's a little bit colder. A month goes by. We're one
month older." The Fathers enter to supervise the work The Mute is doing
on their wall. Hucklebee says he has heard nothing from his son and
Bellomy reports that his daughter wastes her days dreaming. They agree
that their predictable gardens, unlike their children, are their solace
("Plant a Radish").
The Girl finds El Gallo in a tree and calls him "her bandit." She shows
him the spot where he bruised her arm during the supposed abduction. She
has marked it with a ribbon. At her suggestion, El Gallo agrees to take
her to see the world ("Round and Round"). For the trip, he gives her a
mask that blots out any expression of compassion or horror. Her face is
frozen in joy. As they "travel," they encounter The Boy in a series of
increasingly wild situations. When The Boy is set on fire, beaten and
forced to lie on a bed of nails, The Girl hides behind her mask, at El
Gallo's prompting, and laughs.
The Girl and El Gallo return home. He tells her to pack and kisses her
on the eyes. He promises to wait for her, but demands her most treasured
possession - her mother's necklace - as a pledge that she will return.
The Boy returns, but neither of them notices him. Realizing that El
Gallo is about to break The Girl's heart, The Boy demands that the
bandit not abandon her. Once again, El Gallo raises his hand to The Boy.
The Boy falls back as if struck. El Gallo says, "Who understands why
Spring is born out of Winter's laboring pain? Or why we all must die a
bit before we grow again?" He leaves them alone.
Together again, with their newly discovered wisdom, The Boy and The Girl
admit their true feelings for each other ("They Were You"). As they
begin to understand the truth of what they both have endured during
their separation, they shelter each other from the snow that begins to
fall. The Fathers appear and announce that they are taking down the
wall. El Gallo admonishes them to "always leave the wall." He reprises
"Try To Remember" and helps The Mute to hang the front drape on the
platform, ending the show.