Fynsworth Alley: Terry Trotter

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.


Terry Trotter

Terry Trotter

TERRY TROTTER is one of Fynsworth Alley’s most prolific recording artists, mostly as the arranger and pianist of The Trotter Trio, the jazz combo famous for its Sondheim in Jazz series, which includes Passion, Sweeney Todd, Company, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, A Little Night Music, and Follies. Most recently, the trio ventured off-Broadway for their jazz rendering of The Fantasticks.

DL: Let’s start talking about how you began playing piano.

TT: My mom is a wonderful classical pianist, so when I was about four years old I started messing around with the piano to see if I had some talent. I started studying when I was four. My mom didn’t teach me, but she sat with me every day. I had to practice every day from the time I was four until I left high school. Of course, by the time I was thirteen, I wanted to practice, you couldn’t get me away from the piano. Before that, I had to do a certain amount in the morning and a certain amount in the night – I practiced a lot, every day including Christmas and New Year’s. I had a one-week vacation every year where I couldn’t physically get to a piano, but the rest of the year, I had to practice or suffer the consequences.

DL: How did you move into the jazz world?

TT: When I was about twelve, my mom could see that my interest was not as strong as it had been. I heard some jazz music, and she decided to let me go away from the classical for a while. I got really interested in the jazz music, but in classical music also. I studied jazz for about two years and then went back to classical and studied for another ten years with great teachers including Victor Aller, Joseph Levine, and Leonid Hambro who used to travel with Victor Borge as his second pianist. He was also the orchestra pianist for the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein.
Continue reading

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

Fynsworth Alley: 10 Questions with Harvey Schmidt

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.

10 Questions with Harvey Schmidt

What was your involvement in the film version of The Fantasticks?

After years of turning down offers, of waiting and hoping that some day, some film director would come our way with a vision that we might approve on just how to turn what is very much a stage piece into film, Michael Ritchie came along and presented us with such a proposal. So Tom and I were engaged to work on the screenplay and to also be on call for whenever Michael wanted us around, whether it be recording sessions, location shooting in Arizona, or final editing sessions in Los Angeles and New York.

Is there any truth to the rumored Broadway revival of I Do! I Do! with Kathie Lee Gifford?

Up till now I have only heard the same rumors that everyone else seems to have heard. Having long been a fan of hers, I think she could be a perfect “Agnes” in this show, so I would be delighted if the rumors should turn out to be true. Continue reading