Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt's fanciful musical The Fantasticks, billed as the longest-running show in Off Broadway history, announced today that it will soon be closing its trunk for good. The show's final performance will be on June 4.
If the shuttering of this New York theater institution seems like old news, that's because it is. The original production—the one that actually broke the records—rang its final curtain down back in 2002, after more than 40 years at the now-defunct Sullivan Street Playhouse. And the musical's current incarnation at the Theater Center, which opened in 2006, announced that it would be closing in 2015, to much fanfare; a subsequent boost in sales extended its life by two years. But despite recent efforts to whip up interest with sort-of-star casting—Falcon Crest's Lorenzo Lamas, Seinfeld's John O'Hurley—sales have drooped fatally. As of this writing, for example, only a total of 12 seats appear to have been sold for the show's two performances this Saturday, in a venue that seats nearly 200 people per performance. (Much of the show's audience no doubt comes from sales of last-minute tickets at TKTS, but apparently not enough.)
As we wrote in 2015, the 2006 revival of The Fantasticks "seemed less a continuation than an attenuation, a zombie Fantasticks aimed mainly at audiences for whom the show’s name still resonated." The production, it seems, has finally exhausted such nostalgia. But theater fans need not despair; such is the circle of stage life. A new play, Dewey Moss's The Crusade of Connor Stephens, is scheduled to start previews at the Theater Center on June 17.