The Fantasticks may be a phenomenon in New York, where it’s clocked up more than 40 years Off-Broadway, but it’s failed once more to emulate that long-running success in London. The latest UK offering of the musical has posted closing notices for two weeks’ time at the West End’s Duchess Theatre. The new production just opened last Wednesday 9 June 2010 (previews from 24 May) and had been booking through to 5 September, but, despite an accomplished West End cast, including Olivier Award winner Clive Rowe and Edward Petherbridge, it will now finish on 26 June, according to the box office.

The plot of The Fantasticks, loosely based on Edmund Rostand’s play The Romancers, focuses on Luisa and Matt, two teenagers who fall in love despite the feuding of their fathers, Hucklebee and Bellomy. However, the story isn’t just a Romeo and Juliet-style love affair: the fathers are secretly friends who have been plotting to make them fall in love all along. Once the paternal plan works, the parents must find a way of putting an end to their supposed disagreement without Luisa and Matt discovering the truth.

In the West End, the musical has been re-envisioned by Japanese collaborators – director and choreographer Amon Miyamoto and designer Rumi Matsui – and is performed by an all-British cast. Lorna Want and Luke Brady are the young lovers, Clive Rowe and David Burt their fathers, Hadley Fraser is the narrator, Edward Petherbridge and Paul Hunter plays actors, and Carl Au is the mute.

The Fantasticks has music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones and includes the song “Try to Remember”. A 1995 film version starred Joel Grey, Barnard Huges and Jonathon Morris as the narrator, El Gallo. It’s presented in the West End by Kumiko Yoshii for Gorgeous Entertainment, John Gore and Thomas B McGrath in association with Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer for Nimax Theatres.

Despite its incredible success in New York, The Fantasticks has not achieved anything like the same longevity in London. It ran for just a month in its 1961 West End premiere and has had only minor revivals since then Off-West End, most notably at the King’s Head Theatre in 1996.