In theater history, ‘The Fantasticks’ became the longest-running musical, and Tom Jones, who wrote the book and the lyrics, died on 11 August 2023.
In an interview with The New York Times, his son Michael said he died in his home in Sharon, Connecticut, at 95. He was battling cancer before his death, and the family grieves him.
Jones was born on 17 February 1928 in Littlefield, Texas, at the time of his birth. He met Harvey Schmidt, his long-time collaborator at the University of Texas when he was studying Drama in 1945.
He was drafted out to war during the Korean War with Schmidt several years after getting his master’s degree. Jones started his career in theater in New York City as he moved there after his term in the army ended.
In one of his first theater play, when he started working, he collaborated with composer John Donald Robb. The musical ‘Joy Comes to Deadhorse,’ a loose interpretation of the 1894 play Les Romanesques by Edmond Rostand, was also developed by Robb and Jones.
However, they consistently experienced creative differences in their work, so later they separated while John got involved in the musical. During this time, Jones asked Schmidt to help him with the musical. They did keep in touch after they served during the war!
It is when the duo decided to break all creative rules, and ultimately the production was known as ‘The Fantasticks’. The show went on to break all records. However, it was intended to be a different way, as they planned a one-act version in Barnard College in 1959.
The one-act was presented as part of the summer festival; later, in 1960, it was extended to a two-act presentation in Greenwich Village. The play went on to become one of the longest-running in theaters. Jones and Schmidt have collaborated for other shows such as Celebration, 110 in the Shade, and I Do! I Do! These shows opened in the ’60s. Schmidt died in 2018, and now Jones is gone!
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