Ayers Plays Tom Jones in NYMF Musical, Sept. 26-Oct. 2

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A new musical based on Henry Fielding's classic novel Tom Jones will prove that the eighteenth century was just as randy as the twenty-first. Starring David Ayers (Wicked, Fiddler on the Roof) in the frisky title role, the musical will run from September 26th through October 2nd at the Theatre at St. Clements as part of the 2005 New York Musical Theatre Festival's series of Next Link shows.

As its title indicates, the Next Link series often serves as the springboard to full commerical productions of musicals. With a book by Paul Leigh, lyrics by Leigh and George Stiles and music by Stiles, the show was previously presented at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA in 2004. Once again Gabriel Barre will helm the piece and Christopher Gattelli will provide the choreography. "Join Tom on his journey to find himself and true love. A classic masterpiece becomes a musical romp as 13 actors portray the 1700s with a hilarious modern flair. A musical comedy love story farce good-overcomes-bad-taste fairytale for everyone," as the show is described on the NYMF website.

Produced by Dan Brambilla and Vera Guerin of Stage by Stage LLC, Tom Jones will feature the roistering cast of Stephen Bienskie (Cats) as Reverend Summer, Captain Blifil and Mr. Fitzpatrick, Allen Fitzpatrick as Mister Allworthy and Lord Fellamar, Angela Gaylor (La Cage aux Folles) as Sophia Western, Joy Hermalyn as Jennie Jones, Mrs. Waters, Tim Jerome as Squire Western, Barbara McCulloh as Landlady and Mrs. Summer, Michelle Ragusa (Ragtime) as Mrs. Fitzpatrick, Sheri Sanders as Molly Susan, Jeremy Webb as Master Blifil, Ron Wisniski as Mister Thwackum, and Nick Wyman as Mister Partridge. Lynne Shankel will provide the music direction to the show.

Written in 1749, Tom Jones finds its foundling hero bouncing from woman to woman in search of amorous adventure. An Academy Award-winning film version featured a screenplay by John Osborne, and starred Alfred Finney, Susannah York, Edith Evans and others.

With Anthony Drewe, Stiles was responsible for the additional songs added to the West End smash Mary Poppins; they previously collaborated on Honk!, an Olivier Award-musical aimed at a slightly younger audience than is Tom Jones.

The show's performance schedule is 8 PM Sept. 26, 5 PM and 9 PM Sept. 27, Sept. 28 at 9 PM, 9 PM Oct. 1, 7 PM Oct. 2. Visit www.nymf.org for more information.

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