By GABRIELLA BOCK | Reporter
Theatre Palisades’ upcoming production of “The Fantasticks” has a long and storied history.
Known as the “longest running musical in the world,” the play is a loosely based adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s “The Romancers” that gave stage to notable actors such as Glenn Close, Elliot Gould and Liza Minnelli.
It also created celebrated careers for behind-the-scene’s creatives like Theater Pali producer Sherman Wayne.
Wayne, who has spent nearly seven decades working in theatre, told the Palisadian-Post that he got his big break in the early ’60s after moving to New York City on a whim.
“I was in a law office waiting on an appointment when I overheard a producer getting fired from a show,” Wayne recalled. “That’s when [theatre attorney] Donald C. Farber stepped out, looked at me and said ‘I know a guy.’”
That show was “The Fantasticks,” and from there Wayne went on to co-produce the Sullivan Street Playhouse production with Lore Noto from 1962 until 1970.
“It really was one of those right place in the right time moments,” he said.
Although it opened with a rocky start, the production gained a large following after Broadway unionized and went on strike in the early 1960s.
“During the Broadway blackout, the only thing to do was come down to the Greenwich Village and see an off-Broadway show,” he explained. “Anne Bancroft ended up coming down to the 150-seat theater and brought all her friends with her.”
The bare-bones production would later go on to run for a total of 42 years and pe
rform for seven U.S. presidents, despite its minimal set and low budget.
“I think the original set cost somewhere around $950 to make,” Wayne told the Post. “I’ve designed the set for our production here and it will be as true to the original as I can remember.”
Wayne, who has hand-designed the sets at Pierson Playhouse for the last 12 years, will step out of his usual role as producer and take the reigns as Theatre Palisades’ director and doyen of all things “Fantastick.”
“This show is close to my heart and I want to do this right,” he explained. “We have a brilliant cast made up of wonderfully talented actors, two harpists and a pianist who are going to knock your socks off.”
“The Fantasticks” opens at the Pierson Playhouse on Friday, Sept. 1. Tickets can be purchased at theatrepalisades.org.
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