Monday, October 2

At the age of 95, Tom Jones wrote the book and lyrics for his long-running novel ‘The Fantasticks’.

Tom Jones, the author of the book and lyrics for “The Fantasticks,” a 42-year-old musical, passed away on Friday at his home in Sharon, Conn. He was 95 years old, according to his son. The cause of death was cancer.

The Fantasticks made their debut in Greenwich Village in 1960 and are most famous for their opening track, “Try to Remember.”

Jones’ theatrical career began in New York, where he wrote for the revues being presented by impresario Julius Monk and collaborated with John Donald Robb.

Jones and Robb created a TV show called “Joy Comes to Deadhorse” in 1956, which was staged at the University of New Mexico. The two men had an internal disagreement over what worked and what didn’t work out, leading Jones to collaborate with his friend Harvey Schmidt.

Despite working with Schmidt since the beginning, Jones and Robb continued to produce musicals. In 1959, they presented a one-act production for prestigious Barnard College’s summer festival, which showcased two young lovers and their feuding fathers in tenor to narrator and minimal staging, both of which were unconventional departures from the typical Broadway musical.

The Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village was the venue for “The Fantasticks” at its opening in May 1960, which was brought to life by producer Lore Noto. The show featured Jerry Orbach as El Gallo, the narrator, who sang the opening track “Try to Remember.”

Although some critics were highly positive, the initial reviews were mixed. However, it was ultimately successful as the audience voted with their own money, and the musical would perform at Sullivan Street for over 17,000 times until its historic conclusion in 2002, making it the longest-running musical in U.S. history.

Jones and Schmidt continued to collaborate on shows, including the song “110 in the Shade” which premiered on Broadway in 1963 and had 330 performances. Jones wrote the lyrics for the musical “I Do! I Do!”, while Schmidt co-wrote the book and lyrics with him.

The men received Tony Award nominations for each of those shows, with Ed Ames’s version of “My Cup Runneth Over” from “I Do! I Do!” reaching No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967 and earning Grammy Awards recognition.

“Undoubtedly, nothing compares to “The Fantasticks.” The show was revived in Manhattan in 2006 and had more than 4,300 performances.

Jones’s marriage to Eleanor Wright and his second marriage with choreographer Janet Watson, who passed away in 2016, left a widowed husband of Michael Jones and another son, Sam.

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