Remembering Jerry Orbach


Over the weekend I wrote here about the revival of “The Fantasticks” that is playing at the Snapple Theater Center on Broadway. The original run of “The Fantasticks” at the Sulllivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village extended from May 1960 to January 2002. It took 9/11 to kill the show.
The show’s songs are certainly one of the reasons for the show’s indestructibility, but the show also requires a plausible El Gallo in order to work properly. Jerry Orbach — an actor with talent, character, and a resonant voice — was the El Gallo who launched the show when it opened in 1960. It was the first role that Orbach originated; I think you can safely say he aced the part.
Orbach of course became most famous as Detective Lennie Briscoe on “Law and Order.” He died at age 69 in December 2004, though his memory survives among his many fans, myself included.
As you can deduce from Orbach’s reference to the show having played for 28 years, the video above shows Orbach singing the signature number from “The Fantasticks” at the White House in 1988. Try to remember!

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