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Last Chance: ‘The Fantasticks’

April 28th, 2017 Comments off
Madison Claire Parks as The Girl and Andrew Polec as The Boy in 'The Fantasticks.'

Madison Claire Parks as The Girl and Andrew Polec as The Boy in ‘The Fantasticks.’

Try to remember… when The Fantasticks wasn’t playing Off-Broadway. The production opened in 1960 and has been a fixture for nearly 60 years. But catch it while you can. Producers announced that the long running musical will close on June 4, 2017. At the time of its closing the production will have played a total of 21,552 performances in New York City: 17,162 at the Sullivan Street Playhouse and 4390 performances at Jerry Orbach Theater 1627 Broadway.

A modern twist on Romeo and JulietThe Fantasticks (music by Harvey Schmidt, book, lyrics, and direction by Tom Jones) is the quintessential story of a boy and girl who fall in love and then quickly grow apart when they realize they want to experience the world.  What follows is a hilarious and heartwarming story appropriate for all ages. The score, which includes the hit songs “Try To Remember”, “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” and “They Were You”, is as timeless as the story itself.

During its original run at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village, The Fantasticks logged a record-breaking 17,162 performances. When the original production closed in 2002, news of the closing made the front page of The New York Times. In 2006, the revival opened at The Theater Center, directed by Tom Jones (author and lyricist). Variety calls the revival, “A close re-creation that happily replicates the original’s charms.” The Fantasticks continues to run at The Theater Center, making record-breaking history with each performance.

The play has become a true New York institution. For many people, seeing The Fantasticks when visiting New York is as important as seeing The Statue of Liberty or The Empire State Building. Mayor Michael Bloomberg attended the New Year’s Eve performance of the show before ringing in 2008 in Times Square. In 1992 The Fantasticks won The Tony Award for Excellence and remains the only Off-Broadway show ever to have won a Tony.

The cast of The Fantasticks features Bradley Dean as El Gallo (The Narrator), Emily Behny as Luisa (The Girl), Nathan Goodrich as The Boy (Matt), Dan Sharkey as The Boy’s Father (Hucklebee), Dale Hensley as The Girl’s Father (Bellomy), MacIntyre Dixon as The Old Actor (Henry), Michael Nostrand as The Man Who Dies (Mortimer) and Aaron Wright as The Mute. The production also features Scott Willis, John Thomas Waite, and Samantha Bruce.

The Fantasticks
The Jerry Orbach Theatre in the Snapple Theater Center
210 West 50th Street
Through June 4

15 Minutes with Peter Reckell

August 23rd, 2016 Comments off

 

“Try to remember the kind of September
when life was slow and oh, so mellow.”

Peter Reckell (Photo courtesy of 'The Fantasticks' via The Broadway Blog.)

Peter Reckell (Photo courtesy of ‘The Fantasticks’ via The Broadway Blog.)

Anyone who’s familiar with the iconic musical, The Fantasticks, will recognize this indelible lyric, originally sung by the late, great Jerry Orbach, and recorded by everyone from Liza Minnelli to Gladys Knight & the Pips. Now it’s Peter Reckell’s turn.

The Emmy Award-nominated actor returns to his theater roots for a limited engagement and will appearing in the long running Off-Broadway hit from September 5-25. Most recognize Reckell as the hunky Bo Brady—a role he originated in 1983 and played on and off through 2012.

But what most people don’t know is that Reckell is a theater kid at heart, and his return to The Fantasticks marks the 35th anniversary of when he appeared in the original Sullivan Street production.

The Broadway Blog caught up with Reckell while he was enjoying a bit of summer vacation with his family on Lake Michigan before returning to the Big Apple to once again take to the stage.

The Broadway Blog: You’ve melted the hearts of many a TV viewer for nearly 30 years, but did you formally study acting?

Peter Reckell: I studied at the Boston Conservatory. They offered training in music, drama and dance, and I opted for the music theatre program, which combined all three. I was dancing, doing Shakespeare, studying music theory. It was a pretty cool start for a Midwestern boy.

But my real learning started when I moved to The Big Apple. I worked at night at a deli and auditioned during the day. Actors are never in as good of shape as when they’re out of work!

BB: Tell us about your move to Los Angeles and entry into the world of daytime television.

PR: I had jumped into New York wanting to be a song and dance man and was auditioning for musicals. I got a manager through my voice teacher, who said there were more opportunities in television.

I did a two-year gig on As The World Turns, which filmed in New York, and I think that’s—in part—why I got the Sullivan Street gig. I moved to Los Angeles and signed with an agency, telling them I didn’t want to do daytime. I was interested in feature film. It’s funny in a way. Youth. Bravado. Enthusiam. It saves us but it also gets us into trouble. My agent convinced me to audition [for Days of Our Lives] and after three or four callbacks I got the role.

BB: Why do you think Days of Our Lives has had such staying power? 51 years!

PR: In the beginning it was more available to people, our characters weren’t rich. Quite often I’d go out for personal experiences and people would come up to me and say I reminded them of their brother or neighbor.

BB: And then things got wacky. What would you consider the craziest plot line in all of your years on the show? One where you read the script and thought, “Wow… we’re going there.”

PR: I was on the show when was Marlena (Deidra Hall) was possessed. I [also] had a brain chip put in me and turned into a mime once. The brain chip thing was kind of wacky, but it was a period when that’s what entertainment was about. But the base of our viewers has been around a long time and hung around through the craziness.

Madison Claire Parks and Andrew Polec in 'The Fantasticks.' (Photo courtesy of the production via The Broadway Blog.)

Madison Claire Parks and Andrew Polec in ‘The Fantasticks.’ (Photo courtesy of the production via The Broadway Blog.)

BB: The Fantasticks is similar in its longevity. Why do you think it’s been able to transcend the test of time?

PR: I’ve thought about this a lot—making it mine again. The story and the message are universal. When I was young I related to the roles of the Mute and Matt. Now I’m playing El Gallo. A few decades have gone by I’ve been through the bumps, bruises, and aches. It makes me a better person and appreciate my life more.

It’s the ultimate character because as the narrator I get to talk to the audience and explain a few things. It’s not the extravaganza of some of the Broadway shows. We ask the audience to use its imagination. Then I get to the fun part of being El Gallo, the charismatic character. The back and forth is such a fun, interesting journey for me as an actor.

I’m looking forward to doing this night after night for different audiences. Every night a show will have its own personality.

BB: Do you have any must-see, eats, or do’s while you’re in town?

PR: I’m just excited to bring my wife and daughter here to see all the things that haven’t changed much: the museums and Central Park. There’s nothing like New York.

The Fantasticks
The Theater Center, 3rd Floor
1627 Broadway/210 West 50th Street
Peter Reckell performs September 5 – 25, 2016

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo

“The Fantasticks” to End Legendary Run

March 30th, 2015 Comments off

fantasticks

Producers of Off-Broadway’s The Fantasticks have announced that the long running musical will close on Sunday, May 3rd—the 55th anniversary of the opening of the show in 1960. At the time of its closing the production will have played a total of 20,672 performances in New York City: 17,162 at the Sullivan Street Playhouse and 3,510 performances at the Snapple Theater Center.

A modern twist on Romeo and JulietThe Fantasticks (music by Harvey Schmidt, book, lyrics, and direction by Tom Jones) is the quintessential story of a boy and girl who fall in love and then quickly grow apart when they realize they want to experience the world.  What follows is a hilarious and heartwarming story appropriate for all ages.  The score, which includes the hit songs “Try To Remember”, “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” and “They Were You”, is as timeless as the story itself.

"The Fantasticks" (photo courtesy of DDPR via The Broadway Blog.)

“The Fantasticks” (photo courtesy of DDPR via The Broadway Blog.)

During its original run at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village, The Fantasticks logged a record-breaking 17,162 performances. When the original production closed in 2002, news of the closing made the front page of The New York Times. In 2006, the revival opened at The Theater Center, directed by Tom Jones (author and lyricist). Variety calls the revival, “A close re-creation that happily replicates the original’s charms.” The Fantasticks continues to run at The Theater Center, making record-breaking history with each performance.

The play has become a true New York institution. For many people, seeing The Fantasticks when visiting New York is as important as seeing The Statue of Liberty or The Empire State Building. In fact, Mayor Michael Bloomberg attended the New Year’s Eve performance of the show before ringing in 2008 in Times Square. In 1992 The Fantasticks won The Tony Award for Excellence and remains the only Off-Broadway show ever to have won a Tony.

The Fantasticks
Snapple Theater Center
210 West 50th Street
Through May 3.