Jones and Schmidt Honored at Inge Festival, Launching April 22

News   Jones and Schmidt Honored at Inge Festival, Launching April 22 The 28th annual William Inge Theatre Festival, honoring The Fantasticks creators Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, gets underway in Kansas April 22.
Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt
Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt

The four-day festival — named in honor of the Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award-winning playwright — offers workshops and guest lectures in performance, playwriting and directing. The Inge Festival runs through April 25 at Independence Community College in Kansas.

Jones and Schmidt, who created the long-running romantic Off-Broadway musical The Fantasticks, are the recipients of the Inge Festival's Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award. The duo will be honored during the festival's tribute finale on April 24 and 25. Jones will be in attendance for the event, participating in a special talk on April 24.

The tribute to Jones and Schmidt will include performances by original Fantasticks star Rita Gardner and Susan Watson, who appeared in the Hallmark Hall of Fame television version of the musical. Also set to appear are Martin Vidnovic, Walter Willison, Barbara Dana, Kelly Sullivan, Wayne Bryan, Daniel Tatar, Alan Safier and Peter Ellenstein.

"This legendary writing team is bold and adventurous in their work; funny and touching, enormously romantic and sentimental without being cloying," said Inge Center artistic director Peter Ellenstein in a statement. "They have a long line of marvelous, innovative musicals, and I'm excited to have the public gain greater knowledge of the breadth of shows by these phenomenal talents."

In addition to The Fantasticks, book writer and lyricist Tom Jones and composer Harvey Schmidt have created the musicals 110 in the Shade, I Do! I Do!, Celebration, Philemon, Mirette, Collette Collage and Grover's Corners. Previous theatre artists honored by the festival include Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick, John Kander & Fred Ebb, Wendy Wasserstein, John Guare, Horton Foote, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Neil Simon, Christopher Durang and Edward Albee.

The Inge Festival also includes a series of unpublished one-acts by William Inge under the direction of Karen Carpenter. Also presented during the festival will be a reading of Carlos Murillo's Diagram of a Paper Airplane.

A native of Independence, KS, Pulitzer Prize and Oscar-winning writer William Inge is known for his works Picnic; Bus Stop; Come Back, Little Sheba; A Loss of Roses; and the semi-autobiographical The Dark At the Top of the Stairs. Inge won an Academy Award for his screenplay for "Splendor in the Grass."

The William Inge Theatre Festival is held at the playwright's alma mater, the Independence Community College. For more information on the Inge Festival and other Inge Center activities, contact (800) 842-6063, ext. 5835 or visit www.ingecenter.org.