Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fantasticks' Creator Tom Jones At Long Wharf Symposium Sunday

Tom Jones, the co-creator of the iconic musical theatre classic The Fantasticks, currently playing on Long Wharf Theatre’s Mainstage, will be the featured guest at the theatre’s Sunday Symposium Sunday, Oct. 25 after the 2 pm matinee.

Long Wharf Theatre Associate Artistic Director Eric Ting will host a discussion with Jones who, along with his longtime collaborator Harvey Schmidt, have created some of the theatre’s most enduring musicals, including 110 in the Shade and I Do, I Do!, (which plays next summer at Westport)in addition to The Fantasticks, which ran for 42 years at the Sullivan Street Playhouse and is currently being revived in New York.

When the show was first produced in 1960, Jones was pleased with the piece and hoped that critics would connect with its themes, and that an audience would follow. Indeed, the opposite occurred, with audiences gradually getting behind the show despite middle of the road reviews. “I didn’t think it was going to run for 42 years,” he said with a laugh.

The other turn of events Jones didn’t anticipate was acting in the piece. The role of Henry, the Old Actor, was written with a classical actor in mind. When that particular performer was unavailable, Jones, Schmidt and the rest of the show’s production team kept having auditions. Jones, as a matter of expediency, kept reading in the part. “I wound up reading it in the rehearsal process and I was good,” he said.

Every so often he returns to the role, even receiving fine reviews from the New York Times in the recent New York revival at the Jerry Orbach Theatre, a production he described as “fun, sprightly and honest.”

He believes it is the musical’s mythic and classical underpinnings that give the story a resonant texture, enhancing the story’s take on love and growing up.

“It is funny and romantic and has some beautiful numbers and some comedic numbers,” Jones said. “It is very much a celebration of the theatre itself and the possibilities of what you can do within the theatre.”

For more information about the show, or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.longwharf.org/ or call 203-787-4282.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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