untung99.biz: Welsh Singer and Lyricist of The Fantasticks Passes away at 95 Transcontinental Times

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UNITED KINGDOM: Tom Jones, the co-author of the book and lyrics for the renowned musical “The Fantasticks,” passed away on Friday at the age of 95 in his residence in Sharon, Conn. The cause of his death was confirmed by his son, Michael, who stated that it was due to cancer.

Tom Jones, along with the late composer Harvey Schmidt, crafted the enduring musical allegory “The Fantasticks.” This iconic production made its debut in 1960 in Greenwich Village and continued to captivate audiences off-Broadway for an incredible 42-year span. Notably, for its opening song, “Try to Remember,” the musical has left an indelible mark on the world of theatre.

Jones was born on Feb. 17, 1928, in Littlefield, Texas. He met his longtime collaborator, Schmidt, at the University of Texas at Austin. Jones moved to New York after serving in the Korean War, where he began his theatre career by writing the revues that Julius Monk, a theatrical producer, was putting on.

He also worked with composer John Donald Robb on the musical Western “Joy Comes to Deadhorse,” which draws some of its inspiration from Edmond Rostand’s 1894 play “Les Romanesques.” When the two couldn’t agree on how to go creatively, Jones turned to Schmidt for help. Schmidt eventually finished the project, which became “The Fantasticks.”

In 1959, Tom Jones and Schmidt performed a condensed, one-act version of their play under the name “The Fantasticks” at a summer festival at Barnard College. After seeing the play at Barnard, producer Lore, Noto brought the musical, now in two acts, to the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village, where it debuted on May 3, 1960. As part of the original cast, Jones played Henry, the Old Actor, while Jerry Orbach played El Gallo, the narrator and performer of “Try to Remember.”

Although “The Fantasticks” garnered mixed reviews, it achieved remarkable success, running for over 17,000 performances at Sullivan Street until 2002. This impressive run established it as the longest-lasting musical in US theatrical history.

Tom Jones and Schmidt, the talented duo behind “The Fantasticks,” collaborated on other successful works such as “I Do! I Do!” and “110 in the Shade,” which premiered on Broadway in 1963, enjoying a run of 330 performances. Jones received Tony nominations for both “I Do! I Do!” and “110 in the Shade,” and he was honoured with the Drama Desk Vernon Rice Award for “The Fantasticks” in 1961.

A revival of “The Fantasticks” was staged in 2006, captivating audiences for over 4,300 performances until 2017. Directed by Jones himself, the off-Broadway production featured his reprised role as Henry, the Old Actor.

Tom Jones is survived by his sons Michael and Sam Jones, born from his second marriage to choreographer Janet Watson, who passed away in 2016.

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