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She Wanted Much More But What She Got Was Paris: Saying Good Bye To Rita Gardner

She Wanted Much More But What She Got Was Paris: Saying Good Bye To Rita Gardner

Rita Gardner will always be remember as the original girl in The Fantasticks, but Gardner made her stage debut Off-Broadway in Jerry Herman’s musical review Nightcap in 1958) before her breakout turn as Luisa in The Fantasticks in 1960.

Her additional Off-Broadway credits include The Cradle Will Rock (1964), To Be Young, Gifted, and Black (1969), Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (1972), Steel Magnolias (1987), Wings (1993), and The Foreigner (2004).

Curtsey of Rita Gardner’s Facebook

Gardner made her Broadway debut in the short-lived musical (65 performances) A Family Affair in 1962 as Sally Nathan. She was featured in a brief 1963 revival of Pal Joey as Linda English and replaced Susan Watson soon after the opening of Ben Franklin in Paris in 1964. Her Broadway career subsequently stalled, finding her serving as a standby or understudy in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1965), The Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1969), and Morning’s at Seven (2002) (understudy for Cora and Esther).

In film she had a featured role as Rosie in The Wedding Singer in 2006, with three musical numbers including the song “Move that Thang”.

In regional theatre she performed at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania, the Goodspeed Opera House (1997), Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. and the  Cincinnati Playhouse (2007).

Curtsey of Rita Gardner’s Facebook

In 2002 she appeared in her one-woman revue Try to Remember: A Look Back at Off-Broadway at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in New York City on Saturday evenings.

Gardner’s television credits include appearances in Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (on season one episode 18),[19] Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Dora the Explorer (as Grandma Fox).

Gardner was married to the playwright Herb Gardner; the marriage ended in divorce.



Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email:

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