Times Theater Critic

Try to remember a time when "The Fantasticks" wasn't running in New York. Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt's minimusical about two teen-age lovers thwarted by their smart papas has had more than 10,000 performances at the Sullivan Street Playhouse since it opened May 3, 1960.

But on June 8, "The Fantasticks" will give its final performance: No. 10,864. Producer Lore Noto told the Associated Press' Michael Kuchwara that he had decided to close the show while the customers were still coming. "We are going out proud and happy. I've been with this show since I was 36. There must be something else I can do."

Some "Fantasticks" trivia: It cost $16,500 to produce and has brought its backers an 8,342% return. There have been 9,385 productions worldwide. The show's alumni include Liza Minnelli, Ed Ames, Jerry Orbach, John Carradine and Anna Maria Alberghetti.

London's "The Mousetrap" remains the longest-running show of all time--it opened in 1952 and is heading for its 15,000th performance. The longest-running Broadway musical is "A Chorus Line," only 10 years old.

The Pulitzer Prize board couldn't come up with a Best Play this year, but the New York Drama Critics Circle did: Sam Shepard's "A Lie of the Mind." The critics also gave Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner a special award for their "The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe." For best foreign play, the Circle picked Michael Frayn's "Benefactors." Best musical? For the second year in a row, no award was given.

There had been hopes that the new Bob Fosse musical, "Big Deal," might be the show Broadway had been waiting for all season, but the reviewers found it no big deal. However, there were cheers for the old (1966) Fosse musical, "Sweet Charity."

As in Los Angeles, a lot of the cheers were for its star, Debbie Allen. Douglas Watt of the Daily News called Allen "a bewitching half-pint" and the N. Y. Times' Frank Rich suggested that her "I'm a Brass Band" number might send hard-core addicts of the old-style Broadway musical parading down the aisles.

The Stratford, Ont., Shakespeare Festival is promising a premiere of sorts this summer. According to a press release, its production of "Pericles" will include material not performed since Shakespeare's time.

Reading further down, one finds that the additions are actually from a prose narrative called "The Painful Adventures of Pericles," which some scholars conjecture was transcribed from a live performance of Shakespeare's play.

Whoever wrote the new scenes, director Richard Ouzounian finds them helpful in clarifying a text that makes big leaps in time and space. "Suddenly things that seemed awkward make sense and you get the thrill of discovering a neglected masterpiece."

"Pericles" opens May 23. Other shows on the Stratford schedule this season include "Cymbeline," "The Winter's Tale," "Hamlet," "Henry VIII"--and "The Boys From Syracuse."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK. Lily Tomlin to drama critic Martin Gottfried: "In private, we're all misfits."

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