3 Broadway Actresses Set to Attend THE FANTASTICKS in Thousand Oaks

3 Broadway Actresses Set to Attend THE FANTASTICKS in Thousand Oaks"The Fantasticks" is the world's longest running musical, having played for over 52 years in Manhattan and entranced generations of audiences the world over. Many actors have appeared in the show over those five decades, and when Panic! Productions mounts this beloved classic in Thousand Oaks, directed and choreographed by Joshua Finkel, three accomplished actresses who played the lead role of Luisa in New York will be special audience guests.

On opening night, September 5, Susan Watson and Karen Culliver will grace the Hillcrest Center for the Arts. Watson was cast by the show's creators, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, in their then one-act music "The Fantasticks," which ran for one week in 1959 at Barnard College's Minor Latham Playhouse. While the creative team tried to raise financing for an off-Broadway production, Watson was offered the part of Kim in "Bye Bye Birdie," and went on to play that role throughout the entire Broadway run. She finally returned to "The Fantasticks" when it was televised by the "Hallmark Hall of Fame" in 1964.

Karen Culliver's turn in the long-running off-Broadway production of "The Fantasticks" was filmed for Lincoln Center. The Helen Hayes Award nominee's Broadway credits include Christine Daaé in "The Phantom of the Opera," Rosa Bud in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," Lucille Ballard in "Meet Me in St. Louis" and Kim Ravenal in "Showboat."

Newbury Park native Sara Jean Ford, who originated the role of Luisa when "The Fantasticks" was revived in New York in 2006, will attend the Thousand Oaks show on September 20. Currently performing as Christine Daaé on Broadway in "The Phantom of the Opera," Ford's other Broadway credits include Smitty in "How to Success in Business without Really Trying," and roles in "A Little Night Music," "Finian's Rainbow" and "Arlene."

The Fantasticks opens Friday, September 5 at 8 pm and continues Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm through September 21. Tickets are $22/$20 student and seniors, with group rates available, and can be purchased at www.hillcrestarts.com, by calling 805/381-1246, or by visiting the box office. The Hillcrest Center for the Arts is at 403 W. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks.

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