Fynsworth Alley: Tom Jones (Part One)

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.

Tom JonesTom Jones is the book-and-lyrics half of the team that created The Fantasticks, 110 in the Shade, I Do! I Do!, Celebration, Philemon, Colette Collage, and more.

DL: Let’s start right at the beginning. Before you met Harvey Schmidt, what were you doing? How did you guys get to know each other?

TJ: We were both students at the University of Texas. I was studying drama, studying to be a director, not a writer. Harvey was studying to be a commercial artist, as he eventually became very successfully, as I’m sure you must know. I tried to make as much money as I could by picking up directing jobs, directing the melodrama at the local civic theatre, so forth and so on. But there was the annual college musical, put on by the fraternity connected with the journalism department to raise money. They paid the director, and they paid a very modest fee for the book and score. I got the job directing it, and the scripts that I got and the songs that were sent to me were so terrible that I contacted Harvey, whom I knew through a group called the Curtain Club, and I said, “Look, would you like to write an original musical with me? We’ll write it in three weeks or so, and it will be put on a month after that.” He said yes, and we did.

DL: What was it about Harvey that he was the one who sprang to mind?

TJ: Well, he played the piano. And he also composed. The organization we belonged to called the Curtain Club had just done a revue called Hipsy-Boo! (That’s Hipsy-hyphen-boo-exlamation point.) in which some girls in little pants and mesh stockings and bras came out on a runway… actually, it was a revue of American popular theatre music from 1900 to 1950, it took place in 1950. Harvey arranged music from all of these different periods of time, and played it. And he also wrote an original piece of music called “Hipsy-Boo!” – a wonderful, terrific, sensational, sleazy piece of music. I loved it so much. I was connected to the show writing and directing the comedy material involved. That’s how I met him and knew his talents as a composer, really just through that one song. Continue reading

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Fynsworth Alley: Musiography – Jason Graae

Musiography - Jason GraaeWe receive dozens of customer e-mails each week asking about the origins of songs on our albums, so we thought it would be fun to occasionally devote a column to analyzing the selections on our albums. This week, we’re kicking off the series with Jason Graae’s Evening of Self-Indulgence

But Alive / I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You
Since most everyone knows each of these songs (the former from Strouse and Adams’ Applause, the latter from Lloyd Webber and Rice’s Evita), we decided to ask Jason how he decided to combine the two into an unlikely medley. “Well, I already knew the words to ‘But Alive’, but it was too short, so I figured I ought to add something else,” says Graae, “But actually, it was [director] Heather Lee’s idea to put in ‘I’d Be Surprisingly Good For You’. That was her only contribution to my act.” Continue reading