BWW TV: Try to Remember... Broadway Legends Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt Recall Career Highlights
Just last night, the York Theatre Company, dedicated to the development of new musicals and preserving musical gems from the past, honored legendary musical theatre writing team Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt (The Fantasticks, I Do! I Do!, 110 in the Shade, Celebration) with the 2017 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre at the 26th Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala.
The Oscar Hammerstein Award is named in honor of the legendary lyricist and librettist who helped shape American musical theatre through his collaborations with a number of different composers and writers. His contributions to such landmark musicals as Show Boat, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, and Carousel are a legacy for all time. The award was created in 1988 by Janet Hayes Walker, Founding Artistic Director of The York Theatre Company, with the endorsement of the Hammerstein family and the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization. Its purpose is to recognize significant lifetime achievement in musical theatre, and is presented at a gala evening held for the benefit of The York Theatre Company.
Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt began their collaboration at the University of Texas at Austin. Their first complete musical, The Fantasticks, opened Off-Broadway at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in May of 1960 and closed forty-two years later in 2002-making it the longest-running musical in the world. A 2006 revival recently concluded a run of almost eleven years. It has been seen all around the US, in dozens of foreign countries and languages, and on both television and film. Their first Broadway musical, 110 in the Shade (an adaptation of N. Richard Nash's play The Rainmaker with a book by Mr. Nash), had a successful run and was later revived in a production starring Audra McDonald. Their two-actor musical I Do! I Do! (based on The Fourposter by Jan De Hartog) ran for a year on Broadway starring Mary Martin and Robert Preston and is frequently produced around the country and the world.
For several years Jones and Schmidt worked privately at their theatre workshop, Portfolio, concentrating on small musicals in new and often untried forms. The most notable of these efforts were a pair of original musicals: Celebration, which moved to Broadway in 1969, and Philemon, which won the Outer Critics Circle Award and was broadcast on PBS. Their other works have included Colette Collage, Mirette, Roadside, and Grover's Corners. Jones and Schmidt received an Obie Award and a special 1992 Tony Award for The Fantasticks; in 1999 they were inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame at the Gershwin Theatre, and in 2012 they were inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame.
Below, BroadwayWorld check in with the legendary duo as they prepare to accept their big award!