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An Interview with Michael Nostrand, Actor in "The Fantasticks" at The Snapple Theater Center
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An Interview with Michael Nostrand, Actor in "The Fantasticks" at The Snapple Theater Center

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Joseph Patelson Music House

160 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10019

Snapple Theater Center
(Snapple Theater Website)
210 West 50th Street

Terzetto LLC, Pat Flicker Addiss
MARS Theatricals: Amy Danis/Mark Johannes

The Fantasticks
(New Fantasticks Website)
Book & Lyrics by Tom Jones
Music by Harvey Schmidt
Director: Tom Jones
Original Production Staged by Word Baker

Featuring: Dennis Parlato (The Narrator, El Gallo)
Nick Spangler (The Boy, Matt)
Margaret Anne Florence (The Girl, Luisa)
Gene Jones (The Boy’s Father, Hucklebee)
Steve Routman (The Girl’s Father, Bellomy)
John Thomas Waite (The Old Actor, Henry)
Michael Nostrand (The Man Who Dies, Mortimer)
Jordan Nichols (The Mute)
Robert Felstein, At the Piano
Jacqueline Kerrod, At the Harp

Scenic & Costume Design: Ed Wittstein
Lighting Design: Mary Jo Dondlinger
Sound Design: Dominic Sack
Production Stage Manager: Shanna Spinello
Press: DBS Press
Music Director: Robert Felstein
Production Supervisor: Dan Shaheen
Associate Producers:
Carter-Parke Productions and Patrick Robustelli
Associate Director: Kim Moore
Musical Staging by Janet Watson

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 23, 2008

(See November 5, 2006 Review of The Fantasticks)

An Interview with Michael Nostrand, of the CurrentThe Fantasticks

I caught up with Michael Nostrand, who plays Mortimer, “The Man Who Dies”, before today’s Wednesday matinee, at Thalia, 8th Avenue and 50th Street, near The Snapple Theater Center on Broadway.

Michael told me that the last actor, who played Mortimer, Robert R. Oliver, had suddenly passed away, and Michael had filled in last minute. When the show recently re-opened, Michael was invited to play Mortimer again, and he was thrilled. He tells me there’s an unlimited run, a good Director, and some other fresh faces in the cast, like Margaret Anne Florence, who plays Luisa, “The Girl”. With the new production and new cast members, there were some slight directorial changes but not many. When asked about the freshness and pleasure of this production, Michael spoke about the sense of fun and joy, when he emerges from the trunk and feels the sense of live audience. He also spoke about the “small family feel” backstage.

I asked Michael about his background and other ventures, and he told me about Silverwood Films, where he directs commercials behind the scenes and co-directed a documentary with Dennis O’Hare, “Playing for Keeps”. Michael Nostrand grew up in Malverne Long Island and lives in the home his parents bought in 1953, an 1896 small Victorian farmhouse. It has a white porch that once looked out on horse-drawn carriages. When asked about his early theatrical inspirations, he mentioned the “I Love Lucy” series, a good tie-in to his very campy, mime role as Mortimer. Michael had some theatre experience at Malverne High School and Wagner College in Staten Island, which, he says, has one of the best theater departments in the country. One of his professors, Dan Shaheen, is now a Production Supervisor of The Fantasticks.

Michael went on to summer stock and picked up an MFA in acting at Catholic University in Washington D.C., as well as an equity card. One of the regional theatres where Michael began his career was Baltimore Center Stage (“Much Ado about Nothing”). In 1983, Michael appeared in “The Corn Is Green” on Broadway and later in another regional theatre, Goodspeed Opera House (“The Boys from Syracuse”). Other opportunities followed, such as in “The Comedy of Errors”, “Dracula”, and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”. Then came the role as Mortimer in “The Fantasticks” in 1992 on Sullivan Street, the show’s original theatre, and Michael played that role for two and a half years. The audition for Mortimer was thanks to seeing the show in college and speaking with the actress, who played Luisa. Playing Mortimer prepared Michael for Smee in “Peter Pan” on Broadway.

I asked Michael about the exhausting nature of the role of Mortimer, who climbs in and out of a trunk, shakes and falls onstage in faux-death, and stands to the rear of a screen, quickly changing wigs and hats as one of “The Boy’s” tormentors. Michael swims and practices yoga to keep in shape and warms up at the theatre. He does his own makeup (an awesome task), just as he was taught by Jimmy, the Stage Manager at the original Sullivan Street show. For his falling paunch, Michael uses a costume pillow. He also mentions the cushioned linoleum floor at The Snapple Theater, which is much easier to fall against, compared to the mosaic tiles at Sullivan Street.

Michael also mentioned the value of having Tom Jones, who wrote the show’s book and lyrics, as the long-lasting Director. Under Jones’ direction, some of the scenes have been revamped. I had noticed “The Girl’s” dream sequence, when “The Boy” disappears, which had surreal, quasi-violent imagery. Michael said the dream-comedy had been revised to a nightmare, but the music and rhythms stayed the same. To me, there were similarities to the ballet, “The Prodigal Son”, with wandering, surreal escapades. I thought this was a fascinating and fresh revision, even so small, that gave this production the feel of fright, as “The Girl”, in despair, waits for her lover to return. I asked Michael about any other changes, and he said the costumes are from 2002, but the trunk is smaller. “Your body remembers”. For the record, two characters climb in and out of that trunk, Mortimer and Henry, “The Old Actor”.

Mortimer, Michael Nostrand, is an actor with delightful dedication to his craft. I recommend seeing The Fantasticks, a second or even a tenth time. The show’s music and lyrics wrap the viewer in luxurious dream-like fantasy on each viewing.

Michael Nostrand
Courtesy of Scott Jackson

John Thomas Waite
Courtesy of Tom Martin

Margaret Anne Florence
Courtesy of Peter Hurley

Dennis Parlato
Courtesy of Ron Rinaldi

Jordan Nichols
Courtesy of Robert Mannis

Nick Spangler
Courtesy of Laura Rose

Gene Jones
Courtesy of DBS Press

Steve Routman
Courtesy of Haley Sparks

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at