Monday, May 03, 2010

50th anniversary of 'The Fantasticks' today

Story in The New York Times at says "The Fantasticks," the off-Broadway musical that had the longest run in history - from 1960 to 2002 - was a pretty good investment:
Over the 50 years an investor in the S&P 500 who reinvested dividends (and did not pay brokerage or other fees) would have earned 9.8 percent a year before taxes. On a $330 investment, that would amount to almost $35,000. A “Fantasticks” investor who simply cashed every check and put the money in a mattress would now have $80,000, a return of 11.6 percent a year. But if you assume that the money paid out $1,600 a year over 50 years, and that the investor did not spend the cash, but instead invested it in Treasury bills, the safest investment around, that backer would now have about $422,000, a return of 15.4 percent a year.
That's 50 years ago. The show opened May 3, 1960. Brought back memories. Here's a clip of the overture and "Try to Remember," the signature song, from a production by the Bard Musical Theater Co. at Bard College in New York state:

More details, from the Times' story by Patrick Healy:
The tale of young lovers torn apart by warring families, perhaps most identified with the bittersweet song “Try to Remember,” “The Fantasticks” opened on May 3, 1960, and ran for a record-setting 17,162 performances before closing in 2002. With music by Harvey Schmidt and a book and lyrics by Tom Jones, the show remains the longest-running musical in the world; the New York production of “Phantom” is not quite half its age.

Many of the original investors in the show were not experienced theater hands but rather friends and neighbors of some of the artists and executives involved in the show. (Neither Mr. Farber, the lawyer [interviewed in the story], nor the show’s accountants could say precisely how many of the show’s 52 original investors are still alive.)

It was a struggle for those “Fantasticks” executives to recruit investors for the no-name show. They held several “backer’s auditions” in New York City and on Long Island (including at the Farbers’ former home in Merrick) to raise money for the show’s $16,500 budget. A typical Off Broadway musical today, by contrast, costs more than $1 million to mount.

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