Spotlight on Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt

by Nancy Rosati        

NR:  You two obviously get along very well.

HS:  Itís like a marriage. Weíve learned to work on separate continents. You kind of learn what to avoid.

NR:  Whatís the best part about working together?

HS:  Well, one nice thing after all these years is that we have always liked the same kind of theater and because we know enough about each otherís work, thereís a real shorthand in working together. If Tom indicates heís going to do something, I know sort of what heís going to do and I donít have to worry about it.

TJ:  The best thing for me is I canít write music and I really like Harveyís music.

NR:  Is there another show in your future?

HS:  There are other things I want to do before I die and Iím 72 now. I feel time is running out.

TJ:  You are going to make it to the closing, arenít you, Harvey?

HS:  Yeah. Iíve had a very rich life. I want to get a book done on my whole art career. Iíve had wonderful assignments that would make a wonderful book. For many years, I did art work for Ben Bagley Recordings and I want to do a whole book of those. Then I want to write a book about my life, not that my life is that meaningful, but there have been 32 bizarre incidents that have happened in my life and Iím going to call the book ď32 Bizarre Incidents.Ē Thereís so much to do, just in taking care of what Iíve already done. I want to get my files of all the music in pristine, perfect shape and get everybody copies. I donít want to die and leave things that arenít clear. Thereís a lot of visual stuff in our shows that I want to organize.

NR:  Sounds as if youíve got a full agenda.

HS:  I do. Iíve got the big studio down there in Texas and I want to just stay there. Iíve had to travel so much the last several years. I want to work on my health too. Thereís a wonderful gym two blocks from my house and they just added a huge new swimming pool. What I do is very minimal, but I want to do it. When I come up here I donít do anything. I just eat all of the time and donít do anything.

NR:  Tom, what do you want to do?

TJ:  I want to write some more shows. Iíve been working for a year or so now on a musical version of Harold and Maude. I have about three things I would like to do. Then I would really like to rest. After this show opens and The Fantasticks closes, I would like to go to my house in Connecticut. I havenít been able to get there much this year because my kids are in school in New York. I would love to go for three weeks and never leave. Iíd put a fire in the fireplace and have the family come up on the weekend. I would take my dog and walk in the snow and read. I would love to read and listen to music and sit by the fire and drink martinis.

HS:  In the last number of decades, thereís been no time to do anything. I donít ever feel I have time to see a movie. When youíre working on a show, you can never give it enough time. Itís never good enough. Itís a tunnel where the light is so distant at the end, you can barely see it.

TJ:  And you canít think about other things. I go home after the show at night and I canít even watch television. I turn it on because I canít go right to bed, but nothing registers. Itís not that the show is in trouble, but it obsesses you.

HS:  It has to obsess you. For years people wanted me to do a recording where I play our songs on the piano. Iím dying to do that, but my fingers are getting more arthritic so there are almost no runs in anything I play anymore. I want to play before it gets very club-footed.

NR:  How do you want to be remembered?

TJ:  I simply donít think in those terms. Iím not interested in that whatsoever. Iím interested in work. Iím not interested in history in that way. Iíd like for my family to remember me affectionately and to feel that I did a good job.

HS:  Iíd like for people to remember ďTry to Remember.Ē Iím going to put that on my tombstone. Iím going to be buried in this very simple country cemetery in central Texas where my parents are buried, and my grandparents and all of my aunts and uncles. Itís a beautiful rural church that was built and designed by my grandfather in the late 19th century. I bought his farm a number of years ago and Iíd always hoped to restore that and live there but time goes by so quickly Iíll probably never get that done. Iíll be buried there but I want to design my tombstone before it happens. I want it to be in Roman type. I donít trust anyone else to do that.

TJ:  I played the Old Actor in the original version of The Fantasticks under an assumed name. On my tombstone, I would like ďRemember me in light.Ē Maybe Iíll just write a book instead and call it that.

NR:  Thank you so much. I wish you the best for Roadside.

I could easily have spent another hour or two with Tom and Harvey because itís obvious they have many more stories to tell. Just realizing that they have a combined 100+ years of experience in the business fills me with a sense of awe. Their simple little show on Sullivan Street has made musical theatre history, and I donít believe any fan of the genre will forget ďTry to Remember.Ē

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