Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on May 30, 1976 · Page 87
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May 30, 1976

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 87

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, May 30, 1976
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Page 87
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Long-shot 'Fantastics' has paid $4,708 to $1 By William Glover NEW YORK (AP) - "Try to re- 'member, and if you remember, then follow.. .follow...'" : The reviews were mild. For 12 tough weeks hardly anyone bought a ticket. - Lore for Lorenzo Noto thought *Tie'd lost his shirt and 56 friends. But persistence paid off, for reasons that defy usual showbiz logic. Now Noto wears Pierre Cardin suits and slams serves at the swank West Side Tennis Club. : Those friends, from mother-in- law to dentist, have so far reaped 4,706 per cent profit for every buck they invested in-his dream. , "It was a very mystical thing," says the producer of The Fantat- tickt, which on Mays began its 17th marathon year at off-Broadway's Sullivan Street Playhouse. The show has compiled an impos- t-^ng set of records: the world's long- 'est running musical; the longest running legitimate show in any category in American theater history; 3,802 stock, amateur and school incarnations strewn across all 50 states; 251 productions in 55 countries. One Swedish company has performed it annually since 1962. Even more intriguing is the manner in which profits have grown, like a tiny acorn into a mighty oak. If multiplication tables never interested you, consider these items: the Sullivan Street auditorium seats just 150 people. Only on weekends is it SRO. The almost 7,000 performances have been seen by about 700,000 spectators for a mod- per cent attendance rate. The total box-office revenue through March 28 this year tallies, however, at 14,308,325.74 gross and a net profit of $846,318.17. Royalties from other productions, a television version, cast album and sheet music add up to total net profit of 11,553,588. Pretty good for a venture originally financed for $16,500. "It just goes to show," says the president CPA, "that you can survive through a combination of careful management and modest operation." Broadway's huge budgets and weekly costs, he says, would have long since obliterated the show, which instead has become something of an indestructible cult, particularly among the younger generation. The main song Try to Remember, has achieved universal appeal. v · ' , ····'- "It has meanings for many levels of society,"Js. Note's explanation for the show's abiding popularity. Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, who wrote and composed the show, have talked of how the little fable, about a boy and girl who don't find ever-after fairy-tale happiness, strikes a deep chord of subconscious, quasi-religious instinct. One mght a questionnaire was circulated in an .effort to find out who attends. Of 52 people responding, 22 said they had seen The Fan- tattickt. before and 20 others had appeared in school productions. . There were people in the house that evening from Bayonne, N.J., and Tokyo, from Los Angeles and Cape Town. One Chicago man an- Florence Ballard (Continued from 17M) keep her children. And I said, 'Oh, nothing's going to happen to you."' Nine and half hours later, Tommy called her youngest sister, Linda, 22. "When I arrived over there, she was lying on the living room floor,'' Linda recalls. "We finally got her overtothesofa." Flo was conscious, but was having difficulty talking. She couldn't move her legs. She died less than 24 hours later of cardiac arrest. ·-Diana Ross, the Supreme who made it, set up. a college trust fund for Flo's three children. Thinking back, Linda says softly, "I think most of all she wanted to be happy and she never seemed to be able to be happy. I think most of all she wanted the past back. After the Supremes,- she was never the: same. nually buys 14 front row seats to bring friends. Besides the appeal of its songs and story, Noto believes that sustained popularity stems from the care taken to keep performing quality high. A: recent return visit by this inveterate theatergoer confirmed that The Fantattkki has indeed avoided the frequent humdrum pitfalls that plagues many long-run shows. "You can measure the gross you do in terms of the quality of performance," asserts Noto. "If we slip, in.one or two roles, it immediately affects the box-office." Since opening, 139 performers have played the musical's eight roles. Although not always able to get the precise actor wanted, Noto never has difficulty recruiting replacements. "They want to do the show. They bring with them that mystique we talk about. They also expect to be discovered overnight, like Jerry Orbach and Rita Gardner who were in the original cast. . "When they find that not happening in three.or four months, they start to lose some drive. So then we put them in touch again with the material that is what originally interested them." Noto, formerly a talent agent and sometimes actor, has been playing the role of the boy's father . since 1971, when revised Equity regulations almost closed the show. · "I never do anything for less than a dozen reasons," declares the man who happened to grow, up in the seedy Williamsburg section of New York City that fostered another of theater's most intrepid showmen, Joseph Papp. Taking part in the;nightly per-, formance .enables Noto to keep close tabs on company morale--. "the actors are the only ones who can hurt us if they let down." Word Baker, the original director, as well as Jones and Schmidt, regulary comes around. But maintaining quality is the producer's most keenly felt responsibility. Noto says, that when the show opened, he had no idea how long it would run; how he makes no forecast how long it will continue. "You never think of things like that," he asserts. ELKVIEW VALLEV s OPEN SUNDAY Ml P.M. NEWLONGERHOURS OKNMI.TIMSIIT.1IUI.T02UI. AD AM EVE ADULT tNIEtlAMMENT CENTER FEATURING ANLT ·OOKS-MACAZINCS HUNS-NOVELTIES AIR CONDITIONED NOW SHOWING 1HIU 1UIS. 3 -- THRILLING FILMS -3 ON HOWARD flTHRIKf 2OOO f -- Mnl *- 1 "I Lore Noto, producer of "The Fantasticks." Since 1971, Noto has kept tabs on morale of the troupe by taking a part in each performance. XXX RATED Ufes'Nct OPENSUDAYM1PJL ADULT BOOKS PLEASURE ISLAND DAY-MIGHT BOOKCLUB CWDKMlYMMHIOTKiN KMTOTMIMmilt.JWIYFMI UIKONiNiMllUfHC PHONi 342-9475 : : ·. ti 2 A ·. SB 1 ti 11 p. · VIRGINIAN 70S LM StiwM/343-1125 WtlW«tftSe«i T»iw;OiietF«r TheMostDevastating DetectiveStoryOf ThisCCTtury . : --John Simon, New York Maqozlne "AlKEAIillESS IWUTIREJUKA SPEUIMW KTECTIVE STORY." - VINCENT CANBY, . - . "NEW YORK TIMES "· ' ' - "**** HIGHEST RATING A RIVETING UNFORGETTABIE EXPERIENCE. IT MAY WEIL BECOME AN AMERICAN FI1M CLASSIC " KATH1KN CARROtl, N. V. NEWS. OWENS DRIVE IN H WALNUT GROVE DRIVE IN Bttwttn Mwmtt A Chtiopeake TODAY Tomomow T0ESBAY " * kUWUI... ONLY YOU CM SEE IT! 20m CHARLESTON. W.VA. May 30,1976, Sunday Gazette-Mail

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