Off-Broadway Landmark The Fantasticks Takes Down Closing Notice, Will Continue

News   Off-Broadway Landmark The Fantasticks Takes Down Closing Notice, Will Continue
 
The Off-Broadway revival of The Fantasticks, the longest-running musical in world history and the longest-running play of any kind in American history, announced today that it was rescinding its closing notice and will continue its run indefinitely at the Jerry Orbach Theatre.

The little musical about a Boy, a Girl and the wall that separates them had announced March 25 that it would play its final performance on May 3, the 55th anniversary of the opening of the show in 1960. However, producers Catherine Russell and Al Parinello announced today that two anonymous fans of the show had stepped forward and offered financial resources to keep the show running.

“Over the past few weeks, two longtime fans of the show called yelling at me for not letting them know the show was closing,” Russell said in a statement. “Each offered financial help keep the show running in NYC. I initially declined the offers, but after much thought and consideration, I've decided to accept their generous offers that will help keep The Fantasticks alive. I was surprised and moved to see the enormous outpouring of emotion and attention the closing announcement received. People called the box office crying and telling stories about the first time they saw the show. I didn’t realize how many people love the show and feel like it’s an important part of their lives. The Fantasticks truly is a treasured and iconic piece of NYC that should live on."

Russell told Playbill.com that the donors wished to remain anonymous so as not to have to deal with the press or to be asked for help with other struggling shows. She said, "These are people who are devoted to the show. One of them has been very generous in the past, giving the cast gifts at Christmas and things like that." She said she wanted to respect their wish to remain anonymous, and declined to characterize what form their financial help would take.

As for her own feelings about the show's rescue, she said, "I was stunned by the amount of coverage the closing announcement got. It's not that I thought people didn't care. But I didn't think the show was on so many people's radar, and that they would acknowledge it the way they did. I was shocked. But I'm really happy. I love the show."

DeMello also said Russell hopes to keep the current cast in place, but actors were told only Friday night of the plan to save the show. He said the May 3 performance will now be a celebration of the show instead of its closing night. The current cast consists of Edward Watts as the Narrator (El Gallo), Daniel Berryman as The Boy (Matt), Samantha Bruce as The Girl (Luisa), Donald Corren as The Boy’s Father (Hucklebee), Joe Dellger as The Girl's Father (Bellomy), MacIntyre Dixon as The Old Actor (Henry), Michael Nostrand as The Man Who Dies (Mortimer) and Drew Siegla as The Mute. The company also features Dave Schoonover, Rita Markova, and Tom Flagg.

The current production is a revival. As of May 3, the show will have played a total of 20,672 performances in NYC: 17,162 at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village during its original run, and 3,510 at the Jerry Orbach Theatre at the corner of Broadway and 50th Street.

In announcing the closing March 25, Russell had previously told Playbill.com, "It has become increasingly challenging to sell lots of tickets consistently--we are either incredibly busy and selling out or selling fewer tickets that we have been in previous years. It's feast or famine. So due to this uncertainty,I have reluctantly decided to close The Fantasticks on the 55th anniversary of its opening on May 3, 1960.

DeMello told Playbill.com that the closing is a simple matter of economics: "Sales have been way down, and they [the producers] just don't have the funding to keep it going anymore. It's really as simple as that."

DeMello said that the complex's two other tenants, Perfect Crime and Sit Down, Shut Up and Eat, will continue indefinitely.

However, Perfect Crime, the longest running play in NYC history - playing its 11,455th performance today - will continue its record breaking run in the Anne L. Bernstein Theater at the Theater Center and will hopefully someday match the 55th year record of The Fantasticks.

Harvey Schmidt wrote the music and Tom Jones supplied the lyrics and book, based on Edmund Rostand's Les Romanesques. Their score includes timeless show tune classics “Try To Remember,” “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” and “They Were You."

The current cast features Edward Watts as the Narrator (El Gallo), Daniel Berryman as The Boy (Matt), Samantha Bruce as The Girl (Luisa), Donald Corren as The Boy’s Father (Hucklebee), Joe Dellger as The Girl's Father (Bellomy), MacIntyre Dixon as The Old Actor (Henry), Michael Nostrand as The Man Who Dies (Mortimer) and Drew Siegla as The Mute. The production also features Dave Schoonover, Rita Markova and Tom Flagg. It wasn't clear if this will be the final cast.

Performances of The Fantasticks are on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays at 8 PM, Wednesdays at 2 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM & 8 PM and Sundays at 3 PM & 7:30 PM.

Tickets cost $76.50 and can be purchased by calling the box office at (212) 921-7862, by logging onto www.Ticketmaster.com or by visiting the box office. A limited number of premium front row-seats are available for each performance priced at $126.50.

Click here to read Playbill.com's account of the final performance of the original run.

Here are some recent video clips from the revival production, when it performed at "Broadway in Bryant Park."

 

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