SHARON, Conn. – Tom Jones, who wrote the book and lyrics for the 1960 musical, “The Fantasticks,” a play that ran for 42 years, died Friday. He was 95.
Jones died at his home in Sharon, Connecticut, The New York Times reported. The cause of death was cancer, his son, Michael, told the newspaper.
Jones and composer Harvey Schmidt created “The Fantasticks,” which opened in New York City’s Greenwich Village and was an off-Broadway staple for 42 years, Variety reported.
The musical is known for its opening song, “Try to Remember,” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” the entertainment news outlet reported. The latter song was made popular by singer Barbra Streisand.
Jones and Schmidt first presented a one-act version of the play at a summer festival at Manhattan’s Barnard College in 1959, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It was expanded to two acts when the show opened in May 1960 at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village, according to the entertainment news website.
The musical’s original cast included Jones as Henry, the Old Actor, and Jerry Orbach as El Gallo, the narrator, who sang “Try to Remember.”
The play, about two young lovers and their feuding fathers, used a narrator and minimalist staging, which went against the rules of conventional Broadway musicals, the Times reported.
Their pared-down musical, about two young lovers and their seemingly feuding fathers, used a narrator, minimalist staging and other touches that bucked the formula of a big Broadway musical.
“We decided to break all the rules,” Jones remembered years later. “We didn’t understand them anyway.”
Jones and Schmidt, who died in 2018, also teamed up for the Broadway shows “110 in the Shade” and “I Do! I Do!” The Associated Press reported.
Jones was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1998, according to the news organization.
Thomas Collins Jones was born on Feb. 17, 1928, in Littlefield, Texas, the Times reported. He enrolled in the drama department at the University of Texas in 1945, which is where he met Schmidt, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
He earned a bachelor’s degree and, in 1951, a master’s degree at the university, the Times reported.
“The Fantasticks” was featured on a “Hallmark Hall of Fame” presentation on national television in 1964, featuring Ricardo Montalban, John Davidson, Bert Lahr and Stanley Holliday, Variety reported.
A film version of “The Fantasticks” was shot in 1995, according to the entertainment news website.
Jones told the Times in a 2002 interview that while “The Fantasticks” dominated his career, he regretted that it overshadowed his other work.
“It’s nice to be remembered for anything,” Jones told the newspaper. “I do hope and believe that there is going to come a time, probably after we’re dead, when someone will say, ‘What are these other weirdo titles?’ and they’ll say, ‘This is strange; this is interesting stuff.’”
How to find Country Legends
Download the FREE Country Legends 97.1 app now!
Celebrities react to death of singer-actor Aaron Carter
Eagles on Tour
Help a Deserving Family Get a New Roof for Free!
Bucs WR Antonio Brown off team after discarding jersey, exiting field
‘Friends’ Actor Matthew Perry Dead at 54