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Playwright Tom Jones Visits Kent

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Playwright Tom Jones Visits Kent

Claire Arriaga '19

Claire Arriaga '19

Claire Arriaga '19

Claire Arriaga, Campus Reporter

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On the evening of January 11, legendary playwright Tom Jones made his way down from West Cornwall to speak to the Kent community in Mattison Auditorium.

Mr. Jones, alongside composer Harvey Schmidt, is the writer of the most long-running musical in theatre history, The Fantasticks. It’s the reverse story of Romeo and Juliet, in which the parents of two teenagers attempt to push their children together. The original off-broadway phenomenon ran for forty-two years before closing. However, it would be revived only a few short years later to run for another ten.

The theatrical night began with a few performances by Mr. Stewart and Zoe Benjamin ’20 from the beginning scene of The Fantasticks, including the songs “Try to Remember” and “Much More.”

Mr. Jones spoke of his life and work, sharing not only comedic stories but also experienced advice for those in the crowd who were intrigued by the pull of his art. Mattison filled with laughter as Mr. Jones threw in a couple hilarious jokes and continuously battered at his age, “I can’t remember too much these days… except all the lyrics I ever wrote.”

A defining moment came unexpectedly when a student asked, “What matters to you?”

Jones stepped back and briefly, looked to the ceiling before pouring out an eloquent stream of consciousness in reply.

“I believe there is something at work. People can just say it’s the orbits, but if I look at the astonishing fact of one cell animals, splitting in two, then joining together, then different forms, then evolution, reaching higher for something, something beyond. There has been an impressive journey, and I want to be an honorable part of that journey.”

Even as Jones approaches his 90th birthday, he continues to passionately work on new material. “I work seven days a week, it is my nourishment, it’s like Prospero, or Shakespeare with his magic quill, I have my magic computer, where I have some say in fate.”

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Playwright Tom Jones Visits Kent