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Tom Jones: Swashbuckling, side-splitting comedy comes to the Meroney Theater

Published in 1749, 'The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling,' initially caused scandal and sensation.

Jillian Rippey is the virtuous Sophia and Jon Mitchell plays Blifil.
JON C. LAKEY / SALISBURY POST

By Josh Wainright, PPT

Women can’t keep their hands off Tom Jones! Abandoned as a baby under mysterious circumstances and raised by a wealthy landowner, Tom Jones has grown into a kind-hearted and good-natured young man with undeniable charm.

Tom’s heart belongs to the beautiful Sophia Western, but when he finds himself the center of every woman’s attention and all manner of romantic complication, it seems everyone, including Sophia’s father, is determined to keep the two apart. When Tom is banished from his household, he sets off on a series of adventures, including heroic sword fights, mistaken identities, good deeds and lusty women.

“Tom Jones” is a bawdy and rollicking stage adaptation of Henry Fielding’s classic comic tale that will have audiences in stitches at the Meroney Theater beginning next Thursday.

Published in 1749 as “The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling,” Fielding’s story was one of the first English works of prose that we now call novels. Though it initially caused scandal and sensation, selling some 10,000 copies at a time when the population of London was only around 700,000, it soon was recognized as a masterpiece and remains one to this day.

The 1963 British adventure-comedy film version of “Tom Jones,” starring Albert Finney as the titular hero, was one of the most critically acclaimed and popular comedies of its time. The film is notable for its unusual comic style; including opening in the style of a silent film, and characters often looking directly into the camera and addressing the audience. A success both critically and at the box-office, the film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning four Oscars, including Best Picture. It also won two Golden Globes and in 1999 was named the 51st greatest film of the 20th Century by the British Film Institute.

Piedmont Players Theatre’s production will unfold on an impressive multilevel set designed by director Reid Leonard, with beautiful period costumes by Ashley Ward and Eastern Costume Company.

The bewildering romantic world of PPT’s “Tom Jones” stars Marc Trent Tucker as the romantic and chivalrous title character and Jillian Rippey as the virtuous Sophia.

The supporting cast includes Meroney veterans Big “Joe” McGee, Lori and Shawn Van Wallandael, Jon Mitchell and Darius Price as well as PPT newcomers Theresa Pitner, Kris Hokanson, Melanie Gonzalez, Rita Treichler and Sabrinah Hartsell.

PPT’s “Tom Jones” (rated PG-13) plays at the Meroney Theater May 4-6 and 10-13 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee May 7 at 2:30 p.m. Adults $17, students/seniors $14. For tickets call 704-633-5471 or visit PiedmontPlayers.com

Producing Partners: Crescent Construction Services and First National Bank.

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