John Savarese, Christine Long and Eric Meyersfeld will make theatre history tonight when they hit the stage of the Sullivan Street Theatre in New York's Greenwich Village and perform The Fantasticks for the 15,000th time.
They will be going where quite a few others have gone. Among the Fantasticks voyagers: Harrison Ford, Liza Minnelli, Elliott Gould, Rita Gardner, Robert Goulet, Susan Watson, Stanley Holloway, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Edward Everett Horton, Betsy Joslyn, Richard Chamberlain, Eileen Fulton, Jerry Orbach, Howard Keel, Martin Vidnovic, John Wood, Bill Bixby, Bert Lahr, Bert Convy, Ed Ames, Kenneth Nelson, John Raitt, Lawrence Luckinbill, John GavinMDNM and Ron Liebman.
The world's longest running musical, which celebrated its 36th anniversary May 3, is also the longest running show in any category in American stage history.
Only one other precedes The Fantasticks in the Guinness Book of World Records list of longest running plays--and Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap took two theatres to bring off that distinction. It opened in London in 1952 and moved from the Ambassador to the St. Martin in 1974. The Fantasticks, on the other hand, still plays in the same Sullivan St. theatre where it started.
Producer Lore Noto, who is among the other backers who've paid more than a 10,000% return on their initial total investment of $16,500.00, is bullish that the show will see its 37th anniversary--even though it now has an MGM musical version of the play to contend with (probably before year's end). The authors of The Fantasticks, lyricist Tom Jones and composer Harvey Schmidt, will not be attending tonight's unprecedented performance. They will be in East Hadaam, CN, preparing to launch their latest musical, Mirette.
Beyond sending some champagne backstage to the cast after the performance, management is not planning anything special to celebrate this milestone. Explained one Fantaticksspokesperson: "We don't want to tense them up."
--By Harry Haun