FLASH FRIDAY: Try To Remember - 20,000 Performances (So Far) Of THE FANTASTICKS
Apropos of the show's most famous song and its opening lyrics, this September is precisely the time to remember the longest-running show in American theatre history, THE FANTASTICKS, especially now as it celebrates its 20,000th Off-Broadway performance on September 15.
Try To Remember
"Try to remember the kind of September / When life was slow and oh, so mellow," goes the introductory line of the iconic tune from the timeless Harvey Schmidt & Tom Jones musical THE FANTASTICKS. Of course, thousands of singers have covered the song since its debut over fifty years ago, with many of them having had participated in a production of the oft-performed show itself at some point in their history - among them, Liza Minnelli, Kristin Chenoweth, Glenn Close, Dick Latessa, Anthony Federov, Santino Fontana and many more. While the original 1960 Off-Broadway production shall forever remain the introduction of the show to many around the world, it is virtually incalculable to even begin to count the number of lives the musical itself and its legacy have touched over the last fifty-three years. Indeed, the quaint allegorical tale of two fathers and their romantically linked teenage offspring remains forever young and the show is now running strong in a re-vamped revival of the original Off-Broadway mounting, which ran all the way from 1960 until 2002. In 2006, the small-scale musical was brought to a new Off-Broadway home at the Snapple Theater and there it has played ever since.
Originally loosely based upon Edmond Rostand's THE ROMANCERS, THE FANTASTICKS is an impressively idiosyncratic musical with a tone and style all its own, though there are clear-cut echoes of THE WINTER'S TALE, OUR TOWN and many more theatrical entities throughout. Open to any number of interpretations, the story and roles within the show undeniably proffer rich performance opportunities for players both young and old. The young couple depicted are each provided with a stirring and memorable solo showpiece, with "Much More" for Luisa and "I Can See It" for Matt, while their first act duet is a highlight of the entire score - the moody and romantic "Soon It's Gonna Rain". Besides those strong songs, the father figures boast a delicious duet twofer with the charming "Plant A Radish" and catchy "Never Say No", as well.
Additionally, the mysterious and strangely compelling figure named El Gallo is given the aforementioned gem "Try To Remember" at the start and close of the show, while also provided with some spectacular performance pieces byway of the so-called "Rape Ballet" - now more commonly referred to as "Abduction Ballet" - and the second act show-stopper "'Round And 'Round". A lovely, loving and lovable score for a show that is all too easy to love is what one finds with THE FANTASTICKS - whether coming to it new or returning after years away from it; or, even decades.
May THE FANTASTICKS forever live on in the hearts of those who have seen it, listened to the score or performed in the show itself - and that's a whole lot of fantastic(k) people! Probably much more than 20,000 as a matter of fact - especially given that almost 12,000 productions of the show have occurred to date!
Additionally, check out my 2012 InDepth InterView with Aaron Carter in which we discuss the revival of THE FANTASTICKS and much more, available here.
So, now, let's look at some of the most enjoyable and entertaining clips from the long and storied legacy of THE FANTASTICKS as we approach its major milestone.
First up, here is stage and screen star Jerry Orbach with the original "Try To Remember" from the original cast recording.
Next, hear original Off-Broadway production replacement cast member Liza Minnelli's take on the classic tune.
Julie Andrews pays tribute to "Try To Remember" and THE FANTASTICKS with this splendid rendition from a vintage TV special.
Recently deceased Patti Page's "Try To Remember" is an absolute stunner.
Harry Belafonte sings "Try To Remember" in this appreciable clip.
Enjoy the hit 1965 pop cover of "Try To Remember" by The Brothers Four.
Sandy Duncan and Kermit The Frog of The Muppets himself croon "Try To Remember" in this sweet selection.
Pop group The Temptations offer their take on "Try To Remember", too.
Now, experience another timeless song from THE FANTASTICKS score with "Soon It's Gonna Rain" as performed at BROADWAY IN BRYANT PARK earlier this year by cast members Rita Markova and Jim Schubin from the currently-running Off-Broadway revival.
Barbra Streisand sings "Soon It's Gonna Rain" on her debut album in 1963, THE BARBRA STREISAND ALBUM.
View the trailer for the troubled 1995 film adaptation of THE FANTASTICKS, featuring Joel Grey.
Join in on the fun at the fiftieth anniversary celebration of THE FANTASTICKS in 2010 with the original authors and more special guests.
After that, see this witty commercial advertising the 21st century revival of THE FANTASTICKS Off-Broadway.
Aaron Carter and the revival cast of THE FANTASTICKS perform "Try To Remember" at BROADWAY IN BRYANT PARK in 2012.
Lastly, view BroadwayWorld's exclusive coverage of the Off-Broadway revival as we anticipate the big day on September 15!
As a special bonus, witness original El Gallo himself, Jerry Orbach, recreate "Try To Remember" in 1982.
So, what is your absolute favorite element of the charming and arresting musical highlighted here today? Is it "Try To Remember" and the many jewels of the sparkling score or perhaps the memorable performance of an actor in one of the roles participating in a production you saw once upon a time? Better still, is it your own fond remembrance of a long ago September when you yourself acted in the show? Whatever the reason, 20,000 performances later THE FANTASTICKS remains the little show that could, proving a small toy train can sometimes grow into a real-life long-running locomotive.
So, now, follow... follow, follow, follow, follow.