In Connecticut, Kate Baldwin and Lewis Cleale play the couple negotiating the speed bumps of a 50-year marriage.
"I think I have finally gotten to the finished version of The Fantasticks [now at the Jerry Orbach/Snapple Theatre Center, in its 50th year in New York City], but I don't think that I'll ever be able to lick I Do! I Do!" Jones wistfully admitted.
Of course, that doesn't keep him from trying. In the Westport resurrection which runs till Sept. 4, he added a few curlicues that Mary Martin and Robert Preston didn't have to contend with when they starred in the original 1966 Broadway show.
"I rewrote the fight scene that the couple have at the end of the first act, punched it up a bit to make it tougher and more realistic for a contemporary audience," he said.
Also, the man who came up with a colorful assortment of alternatives for the "Rape Song" from The Fantasticks was again attuned to the times enough to come up with a more politically correct definition to his "What Is a Woman?" musical query. Baldwin frankly prefers her new lyrics: "This is a woman who has demonstrated all along that she is smart, she is not a victim — so, to say being a woman 'means being lonely' didn't ring true to me at all. I want to make a decision at this moment, not play a victim — not that that was how it formerly was, but it felt that way to me."
The next I Do! I Do! that New York may hear could be on an epic scale, with different couplets of stars playing the various milestones of this 50-year marriage.
"I've been approached by one of those organizations that do one-night-only benefits to do an with age-appropriate stars throughout the show," said Jones. "I'd love to have Bobby Steggert and somebody playing newlyweds at the beginning and Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera playing the same couple at the end of the play."
For now, Tony nominee Baldwin (Finian's Rainbow) and Cleale play this two-hander with the greatest ease — a gift she chalks up to the familiarity of a longstanding friendship. "We've known each other about seven years. He was John Adams in a production of 1776 that I did at the Ford's Theatre in D.C. I was Martha Jefferson, and that was the production where I met my husband [Graham Rowat]. He played Richard Henry Lee, and, in the second act, neither one of our characters have anything to do except hang out and get to know each other, so, while everybody else was signing the Declaration of Independence, we were backstage getting to know each other."
Baldwin and Rowat were married Oct. 2, 2005.