Richard Fariņa: Long Time Coming and a Long Time Gone
A Musical
Adapted by Nancy Greenwald.
Directed by Robert Greenwald.

Starring:
Richard Gere as Richard Fariņa
Vicki Sue Robinson as Mimi Fariņa

Richard Fariņa: Long Time Coming and a Long Time Gone premiered at the Lenox Arts Center in Lenox, Massachusetts on July 15, 1971. Its New York premiere, off-Broadway, was at the Fortune Theatre on November 17 of that year. Described variously as a musical and a collage, Long Time Coming celebrated Richard Fariņa's brief life with songs, readings from his poetry, dramatizations of his stories, and some biographical scenes, including his supposed involvement in the Castro revolution and the I.R.A. Other skits included an attempt to open a bar in New York City without paying exorbitant graft, and a group of sugar cane harvesters returned from Cuba being interviewed on TV.

The New York playbill (shown below) lists the stories, poems, and songs that were featured. Notable among them are several unpublished pieces: an article, "Breaking the Travel Plan," a story, "Juan Carlos Rosenbloom" (a character from Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me), a poem, "November Elegy," and another poem called "St. Vincent's Isle," which is listed as unpublished but also described as "liner notes for a friend's album." This is almost certainly the first poem on the back of Eric Sings von Schmidt, which refers to St. Vincent's Isle in the first line. Also listed is "Somber Wind," an early Fariņa song that was never released.

Richard Gere played guitar, and one reviewer noted that a total of 24 instruments in all were played, with one performer, Michael Lewis, sitting off to the side playing a variety of instruments. The production also included a background sculpture which was noted by some critics, but there wasn't much helpful description of it, other than that it was reminiscent of Nevelson.

A notice in the Village Voice (Nov. 4, 1971, p. 51) reports that Nancy Greenwald, who wrote the script, received help from Richard's father and Mimi (and also notes that the two were collaborating on a book on Richard). One notable review was written by Tom Costner, who was a friend of Fariņa and who had a hand in producing the Dick Fariņa/Eric von Schmidt in London, as told in Hajdu's book. Costner notes that Joan Baez and Judy Collins also helped with the musical. His review is linked below. Many of the subsequent New York reviews were negative, and the production ran for only seven performances. One reviewer called it a "pasteup job," and many insinuated that Richard Fariņa had neither the talent nor achievement to merit any such tribute. The most favorable review was from Larry Stark, writing in Boston After Dark, who called the work a "gentle, touching elegy."

This musical was the second collaboration between Richard Gere and Robert Greenwald. They had worked together earlier that year on a rock opera called Soon, in which Gere had played guitar and bass. Both of course went on to bigger things. Notable among Greenwald's recent films is Steal This Movie, which tells the story of political provocateur Abbie Hoffman, a colorful persona reminiscent of Richard Fariņa in many ways. Vicki Sue Robinson, who played Mimi in Long Time Coming, went on to perform in Jesus Christ, Superstar, but is best remembered for her career in disco and her hit, "Turn the Beat Around." She died in 2000.

--Douglas Cooke


Reviews of the Lenox, Massechusetts production:
Boston After Dark, Jul. 20, 1971. p. 18.
"Long Time Coming" by Larry Stark.

Village Voice Aug. 5, 1971.
"Making of a Myth" by Tom Costner.
Full Text

Reviews of the New York City production:
Village Voice, Nov. 4, 1971, p. 51.
(Not a review, but a notice of the forthcoming premiere.)

New York Times Nov. 18, 1971, p. 58.
"Milieu of Folk Singer Unfolds at Fortune" by Clive Barnes.

Daily News Thurs, Nov. 18, 1971. p. 108.
"Commonplace Material Defeats Youthful Cast" by Douglas Watt.

Morning Telegraph, Nov. 19, 1971.
"Memorializing Farina, Again" by Leo Mishkin.

Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 19, 1971, p. 8.
"Farina Collage" by John Beaufort.

Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 20, 1971, p. 10.
By John Beaufort.

Village Voice, Nov. 25, 1971, p. 69.
"Richard Farina: Long Time Coming and a Long Time Gone" by Martin Washburn.

Variety, Dec. 1, 1971.
"Richard Farina: Long Time Coming and a Long Time Gone" by Sege.


Images:


The Lenox, Massechusetts Playbill:


The New York Playbill:

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