My junior year at Clover Park High School in Lakewood was magical. I took a number of speech classes as well as acting classes. My teacher in all these endeavors was Virginia Heidbreder. In addition to regular classes, Mrs. Heidbreder arranged for a trip to the University of Washington just for her students, where we were treated to actors from the university performing bits and pieces of plays and the musical “The Fantasticks.”
When I sit down at my baby grand and play some of my favorite pieces, there is a high chance that these three numbers will come up: Soon It’s Gonna Rain, Try to Remember, and They Were You.
Tom Jones was the author of “The Fantasticks.” “Jones was born in Littlefield, Texas, on February 17, 1928. He was raised in Coleman, Texas, the son of a turkey farmer (his father William) and a homemaker (his mother Jessie). During his adolescence, he worked as an usher in a movie theater and attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he was involved in its theatre department. He attained a Master’s degree from the university in 1951. All of Jones’s major musicals were written with Harvey Schmidt, whom he met at the university.” – Wikipedia
Tom Jones passed away August 11, 2023. I hope his works live on forever.
Peg: When I was in high school at Rhine High in Germany, we were living on the NATO base, Ramstein AFB, so there were service people and their families from the NATO allies living there, too. We had a German family upstairs and a mixture of countries and languages around us.
This was a great opportunity for a seven-child family from the hills of Tacoma who lived up a dirt road on a hill. My younger sister with special needs finally had a school she could attend. It drove her crazy that she couldn’t go to school when we lived in the little village of Woldsfeld outside of Bitburg AFB.
Then when my sister Pat and I saw “The Fantasticks”. There wasn’t a stage really, just a floor with a platform in part of a room and recorded music. We sat in folding chairs. It didn’t matter. This beautiful music was sung and the performers danced and it was wonderful. I hadn’t seen many plays then, if any, and it was magical.
When the farmer dads sang, “Why Do the Kids Put Beans in their Ears?” the perversity of parent-defying teenagers was exemplified. When the lovers sang, “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” it was so romantic, but actually impractical. The story was funny and poignant and it was well acted by volunteers.
It opened my eyes to live theatre. Thank you, Tom Jones and may you rest in peace with all the other playwrights and song writers who have given us so much romance, fun, puns and just plain good theatre. We need it.