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'Tom Jones' Loses The Rakish Attitude

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Kent Klausner and Alaina Lovera in a scene from the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre's production of "Tom Jones," to be performed Thursday through Sunday.


'Tom Jones' loses the rakish attitude

Civic Theatre presents G-rated version


News Arts Writer

The last two Ann Arbor Civic Theatre main-stage shows (“The Full Monty” and “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”) have been decidedly raunchy; and you might think- based on the bawdy, Academy Award-winning 1963 film adaptation starring Albert Finney- that “Tom Jones” will offer more of the same.

Instead, A2CT’s “Tom” is a G-rated, family-friendly take on Henry Fielding’s classic novel, adapted by David Rogers. “Anybody who can attend is more than welcome to,” said Kent Klausner, who plays the title role. “I think everybody will get their own special moment or special feeling out of it. ... There’s fighting, there’s romance, there’s tons of comedy-just comedy on top of comedy- and it’s going to be a great show.”

The play tells the story of an 18th century young man who, because of a scandal, must leave home to seek adventure in the world. When the woman he loves refuses to marry her fiancee, she sets out after Tom, and the chase is on.

“(Roger’s adaptation) has chosen a very limited number of Tom’s adventures that were chronicled in the novel, and it’s really put him in a better light, because he was quite the rake in the novel, and he’s a pretty true-blue guy in the script,” said director Jimmy Dee Arnold.

This depiction of Tom Jones .as a victim of circumstance made the character all the more appealing to Klausner. “He’s an innocent guy in a really tangled, twisted world who just wants to do the right thing but just has too many obstacles in his way,” said Klausner. “He kind of bumbles his way around them. ... He’s just - wrong place, wrong time, all the time.”

You might wonder if this alteration de-fangs the original story’s bite, but Arnold - who played the narrator of “Tom Jones” in a production many years ago - views the change as an opportunity to take the story’s comedy in a different direction.

To this end, Arnold required sustained effort from a large, dedicated cast.

“Right off the bat, (Arnold) said, ‘Be over the top. Go as crazy as you can. I would rather tell you to pull it back than push it more,”’ said Klausner of Arnold’s directing style.

Klausner said that this approach has paid off, pushing cast members out of their comfort zones. “I see these people, and I’m thinking, these aren’t the people I know,” said Klausner. “These are characters, and they’re just really, really rich and colorful, and they’ve got personalities of their own.”

Arnold has also concerned himself with the show’s pacing, so that it’s energetic as well as clear. “It’s a three-act play ... and I think most of today’s audiences aren’t in favor of sitting around the theater for four hours unless they’re constantly entertained,” said Arnold. “So pacing in this show has been the keystone, I think. Not so much rushing through one’s lines, but knowing when to come in on the heels of the other actor.”

Arnold refers to “Tom” as “a large show of small parts.” Yet during auditions, Klausner emerged as the best choice for the play’s title role. Although he has been involved with many shows previous to this, “Tom” will mark his debut as leading man.

“He’s not your obvious young-lover type, but he can be very dashing,” said Arnold.

As far as Klausner was concerned, playing Tom Jones was a can’t-miss opportunity. “It’s just one of those born-to-play roles,” he said. “I love the time period, I love sword-fighting -I love everything about that era. ... I wish this experience could last a lifetime.”

Jenn McKee can be reached at 734-994-6841 or jmckee@


'Tom Jones'

Who: Ann Arbor Civic Theatre.

What: Based on Henry Fielding's classic novel, "Tom Jones," the rollicking comedy tells the story of a young man who romances and swashbuckles his way through 18th century England.

Where: Towsley Auditorium at Washtenaw Community College, 4800 E. Huron River Drive, Ann Arbor.

When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday.

How much: $20 ($17 for students and seniors). On Thursday evening, all seats are $13. Information: To purchase tickets, call 734-971-2228 or visit

Information: To purchase tickets, call 734-971-2228 or visit