Apr 25, 2015 3:20 PM

Off-Broadway play 'The Fantasticks' offered a lifeline

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) The off-Broadway phenomenon "The Fantasticks" won't be closing next month after all thanks to a pair of fantastic fans.

Two donors have stepped up and pledged to keep the stalwart, low-tech show open, producer Catherine Russell said Saturday. Plans had been made for the show to close after some 20,000 performances on May 3, the 55th anniversary of the show's opening in 1960.

"Neither donor knows the other and both want to remain anonymous," Russell wrote in an email. "They both just have loved the show for many years and were heartbroken and furious at me for deciding to close it without discussing it with them."

For nearly 42 years the show chugged along at the 153-seat Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village, finally closing in 2002 after 17,162 performances a victim both of a destroyed downtown after 9/11 and a new post-terrorism, edgy mood. It opened four years later at The Snapple Theater Center, an off-Broadway complex in the heart of Times Square.

The tale, a mock version of "Romeo and Juliet," concerns a young girl and boy, secretly brought together by their fathers and an assortment of odd characters, including a rakish narrator, an old actor, an Indian named Mortimer and a mute.

It long ago won the title of world's longest-running musical. "The Phantom of the Opera," by comparison, is Broadway's longest-running show with some 11,000 shows. The only rival to "The Fantasticks" is "The Mousetrap" in London, which is the longest- running show in the world, having passed 25,000 performances.

Scores of actors have appeared in the show, from the opening cast that included Jerry Orbach and Rita Gardner, to stars such as Ricardo Montalban and Kristin Chenoweth to Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham.


Online: http://www.fantasticksonbroadway.com


Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits


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