Tom Jones, lyricist and playwright behind record-breaking off-Broadway hit The Fantasticks, will reprise the role he created half a century ago as part of the show’s 50th anniversary celebration. The 82-year-old Jones, who played the role of Henry during The Fantasticks’ Sullivan Street Playhouse debut in 1960 and again in the subsequent 2006 revival, joins the current off-Broadway company at the Snapple Theater beginning April 26, with plans to play through June 6. The Fantasticks turns 50 on May 3.
Jones, who will perform under his original stage name of Thomas Bruce, joins a cast featuring Edward Watts (Finian’s Rainbow), Erik Altemus (Parade in L.A.), Tom Flagg (The Will Rogers Follies), Gene Jones (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone), Matt Leisy (The History Boys in St. Louis), Michael Nostrand (A&E’s Peter Pan), Evy Ortiz, Steve Routman (Awake and Sing! at Arena Stage), Kimberly Whalen (West Side Story) and Scott Willis (Crazy for You).
In addition to The Fantasticks, Jones has provided book and lyrics for such shows as Colette, Philemon, Celebration, 110 in the Shade and I Do! I Do!, the latter of which earned him a Tony Award nomination. In 1992, he was the recipient of the Tony Awards Tony Honor for The Fantasticks.
The Fantasticks, featuring music by Harvey Schmidt, originally opened on May 3, 1960, at the Sullivan Street Theater, starring Jerry Orbach and Rita Gardner. The production went on to play 17,162 performances before shuttering in 2002. After a four-year break, a new production directed by Jones opened at the Snapple Theater on August 16, 2006—again featuring Jones in the role of Henry—where The Fantasticks continues its run.
Now considered a musical theater classic, the show is a standard romantic comedy about a boy and girl who fall in and out of love at the hands of their meddling fathers. Audience members use their imagination to follow the narrator, El Gallo, as he creates a world of moonlight and magic until the boy and girl find their way back to one other. The score includes such hit songs as “Try To Remember,” “They Were You” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain.”