Rita Gardner

Rita Gardner (née Schier;[1] October 23, 1934) is an American actress and singer.

Rita Gardner
Rita Gardner 1966.JPG
Gardner in 1966
Rita Schier

(1934-10-23)October 23, 1934
Brooklyn, New York, US
OccupationActress · singer


Gardner made her stage debut Off-Broadway in Jerry Herman's musical review Nightcap[2][3] before her breakout turn as Luisa in the original cast of The Fantasticks in 1960.[4][5][6]

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).[7][8]

Gardner made her Broadway debut in the short-lived musical (65 performances) A Family Affair in 1962 as Sally Nathan.[9][10] She was featured in a brief 1963 revival of Pal Joey as Linda English[11] and replaced Susan Watson soon after the opening of Ben Franklin in Paris in 1964.[12] 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).[13] She had a featured role as Rosie in The Wedding Singer in 2006,[14] with three musical numbers including the song "Move that Thang".[15]

Gardner's regional theatre credits include Show Boat and The Impossible Years at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania (1983), the musical Lucky in the Rain at the Goodspeed Opera House (1997),[16] and Eleanor: A Love Story at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. (1999). She appeared in the national tour of Kiss of the Spider Woman (1994). She gave a critically acclaimed performance in Murderers at The Cincinnati Playhouse (2007).

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. The revue includes ballads from The Fantasticks.[17] She performed the revue at the Metropolitan Room in New York City in 2011.[18]

Gardner's television credits include appearances in Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (on season one episode 18)[19] and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

She studied acting at HB Studio[20] in New York City.

Personal lifeEdit

Gardner was married to the playwright Herb Gardner; the marriage ended in divorce. She was a faculty member for the sixth annual Cabaret Conference at Yale University in 2008.[21]


  1. ^ Farber, Donald C.; Viagas, Robert (2005). The Amazing Story of The Fantasticks: America's Longest-running Play. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 978-0-87910-313-2.
  2. ^ Dietz, Dan (2010-03-10). Off Broadway Musicals, 1910-2007: Casts, Credits, Songs, Critical Reception and Performance Data of More Than 1,800 Shows. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-5731-1.
  3. ^ Citron, Stephen (2008-10-01). Jerry Herman: Poet of the Showtune. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-13324-0.
  4. ^ Portantiere, Michel. "Rita Gardner Remembers" theatermania.com, March 7, 2000
  5. ^ The Fantasticks lortel.org, accessed February 16, 2019
  6. ^ Dietz, Dan (2010-03-10). Off Broadway Musicals, 1910-2007: Casts, Credits, Songs, Critical Reception and Performance Data of More Than 1,800 Shows. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-5731-1.
  7. ^ "Rita Gardner Off-Broadway" lortel.org, accessed February 16, 2019
  8. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. (2011-02-18). Off-Broadway Musicals since 1919: From Greenwich Village Follies to The Toxic Avenger. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-7772-6.
  9. ^ A Family Affair playbill (vault), accessed February 16, 2019
  10. ^ Filichia, Peter (2010). Broadway Musicals: The Biggest Hit and the Biggest Flop of the Season, 1959 to 2009. Applause Theatre & Cinema. ISBN 978-1-4234-9562-8.
  11. ^ Pal Joey ibdb.com, accessed February 16, 2019
  12. ^ " Ben Franklin in Paris replacements" ibdb.com, accessed February 16, 2019
  13. ^ Morning's at Seven ibdb.com, accessed February 16, 2019
  14. ^ Jacobson, Lynn. "Legit Reviews. The Wedding Singer" Variety, February 10, 2006
  15. ^ Dietz, Dan (2017-04-06). The Complete Book of 2000s Broadway Musicals. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-4422-7801-1.
  16. ^ Nassour, Ellis. "Scott Wise Gets Lucky in Goodspeed's New Musical, Aug. 1", Playbill, August 1, 1997
  17. ^ Portantiere, Michael. "Rita Gardner Remembers" theatermania.com, March 7, 2000
  18. ^ Gioia, Michael. "Rita Gardner's Try to Remember Will Play Limited Engagement at NYC's Metropolitan Room" playbill, September 2, 2011
  19. ^ Green, Susan; Dawn, Randee (2009). The Law and Order: Special Victims Unit Unofficial Companion. BenBella Books. ISBN 978-1-933771-88-5.
  20. ^ "HB Studio - Notable Alumni | One of the Original Acting Studios in NYC".
  21. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Hall, Gardner, Lutvak, Myers, Mayes and McKnight to Perform at Yale", Playbill, July 28, 2008

External linksEdit