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The Fantasticks is a 1960 musical with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones. It tells an allegorical story, loosely based on the play "The Romancers" ("Les Romanesques") by Edmond Rostand , concerning two fathers who put up a wall between their houses to ensure that their children fall in love, because they know that children always do what their parents forbid. After the children do fall in love, they discover their fathers' plot and they each go off and experience things in the world. They return to each other and the love they had, having learned from the world and made an informed decision. Elements of the play are ultimately drawn from the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, its story wending its way through Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream as well as Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore and Rostand's play.
The show's original production off-Broadway ran for 17,162 performances, becoming the world's longest-running musical, for 42 years. The poetic book and breezy, hummable score, including such familiar songs such as "Try to Remember," helped make this show so durable. Many productions followed, as well as television and film versions. The Fantasticks has also become a staple of regional, community, and high school productions virtually since its premiere, despite a deceptively simple plot line and several politically incorrect themes discussed below under "Controversy". It is one of the few musicals to have been made available to other theaters before its original production closed. The show is very budget-friendly because of its small cast, two-person orchestra and minimalist set design.