Theater News

Harvey Schmidt, Composer of The Fantasticks, Dies at 88

Schmidt also wrote the musicals ”110 in the Shade” and ”I Do! I Do!”

Harvey Schmidt has died at the age of 88.
Harvey Schmidt has died at the age of 88.
(© Allison Stock)

Harvey Schmidt, composer of The Fantasticks, has died at the age of 88. Schmidt's death was confirmed by Dan Demello, the publicist for the long-running musical, which recently ended its run at the Jerry Orbach Theatre.

Schmidt grew up in Texas, the son of a Methodist minister. He met his longtime writing partner, Tom Jones, at the University of Texas, Austin. After graduating, they moved to New York City and created a small musical play called Joy Comes to Deadhorse. They later reworked it for a production at Barnard College's summer theater program and titled it The Fantasticks.

Opening off-Broadway in May 1960, The Fantasticks became the longest-running musical in history, ending its initial run at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in 2002 after 17,162 performances. A 2006 revival at the Jerry Orbach Theatre ran for 11 years, closing in June 2017. They received an Obie Award, as well as a 1992 Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre for the show.

Along with The Fantasticks, Schmidt and Jones wrote the musicals 110 in the Shade, I Do! I Do!, Celebration, Philemon, which received an Outer Critics Circle Award, Colette, Mirette, and Roadside. A revue of their tunes, The Show Goes On, was presented at the York Theatre Company in 1998.

With his writing partner, Schmidt was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame at the Gershwin Theatre in 1998 and the Playwrights Sidewalk outside the Lucille Lortel Theatre in 1999. In 2012, they were inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame. In December 2017, the pair were honored with the Oscar Hammerstein Award by the York Theater Company.