The world’s longest-running musical? I don’t think so!
This weekend, Les Miserables is celebrating its 21st birthday on the West End, claiming the crown of London’s longest ever run for a musical (The Mouse Trap, of course, is miles ahead, but is a straight play). The press claims have been that this will make it the world’s longest-running musical, but that’s really a bit of a lie, or at least an example of hyperbole.
It certainly beats Cats as the longest-runner in London (with Phantom of the Opera holding that record for Broadway), but none of those shows come anywhere near the long run that was enjoyed by a little show called The Fantasticks in New York. Not a spectacular show, and not (it has to be admitted) with the same audience capacity in the theatre, it nevertheless ran for just under 42 years, twice as long as Les Mis has trundled on for. It’s not as splashy and newsworthy, though, so it seems it can be conveniently swept under the carpet in order to make the London record sound so much more impressive.
The Fantasticks is a lovely little show, and it introduced the world to ‘Try to Remember’, a song that crops up every so often, most recently in a TV commercial for coffee in the UK. The songs and the script make me smile, though they don’t move me as much as Les Miserables does. I just feel it deserves to keep the distinction of world’s longest running musical – 41 years and 8 months is no small achievement!