From Nov. 4 through 7, the FSC Department of Theatre and Dance put on their second-stage show of the year, “Tom Jones,” which took place in Fletcher Theatre located in Ordway. The show was the department’s first-ever maskless performance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was sold out every night.
“Tom Jones” is a farce adapted by Mark Brown, from “The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling” by Henry Fielding.
Brown writes in the synopsis: “’Tom Jones,’ a charming young man of questionable birth, is madly in love with Sophia Western. But Sophia flees for her life as her father arranges a marriage with a horrendous man. Aristocrats, wenches and scalawags abound in this bawdy and rollicking romp through the back roads and bedchambers of England.”
Director Lawrence Lesher is an FSC alumnus who has worked in every U.S. state and about 35 countries. He is currently living in Queens, New York, and traveling to different locations directing shows.
“’Tom Jones’ has been a blast: a talented, hard-working cast and production team, an irreverently ribald, hilarious script… and Frank Lloyd Wright,” Lesher said.
The cast and crew described their positive performance while working throughout the production of this performance.
“I had an amazing experience stage managing and working on ‘Tom Jones,’” stage manager Jennifer Woodford said. “I had the greatest pleasure to work with all the production team, actors, and crew. The director Lawrence Lesher was the best director I’ve ever worked with.”
“It was such a great and educational experience,” cast member Giselle Meyer said. “With such a limited rehearsal period, it got a little overwhelming at times, but we learned so much and I’ve been able to take away so much and apply it elsewhere in life and theatre.”
“It was amazing. The cast and crew were the best cast and crew I’ve ever worked with throughout my entire life,” cast member Tommy Anderson said. “Each of them is kind, hilarious, responsible, and hard-working. Every rehearsal we came in and did what we needed to do, and it was a very fulfilling and wonderful experience.”
The cast had to rehearse in masks throughout the three-week rehearsal process in order to stay safe and healthy. The shows contained maskless performers since every cast member tested negative for COVID-19, marking the first show to do so at FSC since the start of the Coronavirus. The performers described that even though rehearsing in a mask was “tough,” the requirement was needed to “ensure” safety. The removal of masks made the story-telling much deeper: seeing each other’s faces and reactions helped the actors significantly.
“You really want to exhibit your emotions to the fullest, and the mask makes that difficult. When we got tested and then performed, it was a breath of fresh air, metaphorically and literally,” Anderson said.
“When we finally did take off the masks, our show completely changed. It became alive, theatre in its fullest life form,” cast member Lily Brewster said.
As this was many cast members’ first time in a show at FSC, the cast and crew learned many things in their time on this production. Some of these new skills included learning to be “more clear on communication techniques” and working on their “accents” along with “comedic timing.”
“This show taught me the importance of never taking what you have for granted. We were so lucky to be able to perform ‘Tom Jones,’ to experience each other in our art form, and to enjoy the togetherness,” Brewster said.
Within the play there was a dance piece choreographed by Meyer in which she learned how to “create movements that fit each performer, the themes, and unique space.”
Florida Southern College’s current production is “Songs For A New World,” running from Nov. 18 to 21, and Dec. 2 to 5 at Buckner Theatre.