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Musical Celebration of the Work of John Taylor Thomas on March 3rd: Link to Purchase Tickets

Note: CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS to a musical celebration of the work of John Taylor Thomas. The celebration will feature more than 30 songs from ten shows performed by 12 actor-singers and an accompanist.  The show is on Sunday, March 3, 2024 at 2:00 pm in the sanctuary of the historic Trinity-St. Paul’s Church 311 Huguenot Street in New Rochelle. $75 per person ($50 is tax-deductible) Event includes food and drink, raffles and more!  Learn more about John Taylor Thomas and the celebration below.

by Jeffrey B. Fuerst

Jan. 31, 2024: When you first meet John Taylor Thomas you might be reminded of the popular 1950s Broadway musical The Most Happy Fella for a few reasons. First, like the eponymous protagonist, Thomas is one happy guy. Despite his 70-plus years — the last 40 as a New Rochelle resident — he beams a youthful energy and zest that belies his age. Thomas is quick with a quip and overflowing with anecdotes from his long career as a multi-faceted musician and performer. More often, he’ll readily and zealously break into song in his John Raitt baritone— either one of the hundreds he has written, or one he has performed off-Broadway, in regional theater, summer stock, and in various places throughout Westchester. His enthusiasm and joy are catchy, as are the tunes and arias he writes.

The second reason The Most Happy Fella comes to mind is that Thomas’ work is akin to that of this Frank Loesser show: a Broadway musical with operatic tendencies. Brooks Atkinson, theatre critic for the New York Times called Happy Fella a “music drama…about as close to opera the rules of Broadway permit.” Atkinson was not around to review Thomas’ work, but it, too, might rightly be called “Broadway opera.” Thomas categorized his work (only because he was prodded to do so!) as somewhere on the continuum of operetta and folk opera, with a smattering of splashy show tunes mixed in. Among his musical influences are the German composer Sigmund Romberg (The Student Prince), the great Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (La Boheme; Tosca) and the late Carlisle Floyd, a contemporary American composer (Susannah).

Like these composers, Thomas draws from literature and history for inspiration. Included among his 20-plus, full-length pieces are musical interpretations of Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte) Return of the Native (by Thomas Hardy) and Robin of Sherwood (based on the legend of Robin Hood), the first show he wrote.

“I was in my late 20s, working as a counselor at the Rye town day camp,” Thomas explained, offering the backstory on his eureka moment and how this show came to be. “Although I had spent years studying voice and was trained as a classical pianist at esteemed music conservatories such as Eastman and Oberlin, I had never composed anything formally. Then, while teaching a class in the camp library, a book about Robin Hood fell off a shelf and literally hit me in the head.” He wrote Robin of Sherwood in two weeks. The Spamalot-like musical comedy was performed at the camp, and subsequently at other venues in Westchester and Rockiand counties.

Mail Order Maggie, Thomas’ second show has a historical pedigree. It is based on life in hardscrabble Montana in the 1890s. It is also a testament to where Thomas finds his inspiration and one of the reasons he stays so vital. “I wrote this show in 1987, but harkened back to a summer I spent in Montana in 1966,” he said. “I preserve some of my youth by creating, by revisiting myself.” Thomas, an Eastern kid primarily, recounted how impressed he was by the rugged, outdoor lifestyle of the Mountain West. He hit the history books and transported himself to the era when the Wild West was becoming tame, when ranchers and cowboys clashed, when women were brought in from afar to be frontier brides.

Thomas’ current show is also based on history. Common Sense: The Story of Thomas Paine tells the story of the Revolutionary War rabble-rouser and notorious author of the political pamphlet whose clarity and plain language propelled American Patriot’s snowballing desire for independence into an avalanche of rebellion. The show, produced by New Rochelle-based Tutti Bravi Productions, debuted in Fall 2023 at the New Rochelle library. It is slated for a performance at the Will library in Yonkers on Saturday, March 16, at 2 pm. Admission is free.

Tutti Bravi is now in its 13th season bringing shows that celebrate the lives and achievements of Westchester residents, written by Westchester authors, to Westchester audiences. The company previously produced Thomas’ music-drama Anne Hutchinson, about the life of one of the earliest American feminists. But the Tutti Bravi—Thomas connection go way back.

Billie Tucker, Tutti Bravi’s co-founder, first saw Thomas perform as part of the New Rochelle library concert series. She often saw him perform with the New Rochelle Civic Theatre as well. Sharing a love for, and commitment to, the arts and community involvement, the pair struck up a friendship that grew into a creative partnership. Tucker was impressed by a production of Thomas’ musical adaptation of O. Henry stories at the Manor Club in Pelham. “I didn’t know John was a composer and writer,” said Tucker. “I enjoyed the O. Henry show very much. I didn’t think of it as operatic because it was so melodic and accessible. What’s more, John fit into the Tutti Bravi mission.” That led to Tutti Bravi producing Anne Hutchinson in 2018.

Tutti Bravi is continuing its collaboration with — and admiration for — Thomas. “John’s compositions are simple, direct, and heartfelt. He gets to the essence of a moment, of a feeling, and brings the audience to a place and time. He can take a nugget, of a story and show how it fits into the larger whole.”

The composer, lyricist, and librettist will be feted on Sunday, March 3, at 2 pm with a retrospective of his work. “I am overwhelming grateful to Billie and Judy (Tucker, the director of the retrospective and also of Common Sense). “I have been lucky to have met these fine, talented, wonderful women who have been very generous with their time and support.”

The John Taylor Thomas musical extravaganza features more than 30 songs from ten shows performed by 12 actor-singers and an accompanist. Thomas will be part of the ensemble. “John is such a multi-talent,” said Billie Tucker. “A retrospective of his work is long overdue.” The fundraising fest — the first ever for Tutti Bravi — takes place at Trinity St. Paul’s Church, 311 Huguenot Street, New Rochelle, NY. The price is $75 per person ($50 tax deductible) and includes food, drinks, and a raffle.


Or send check to Tutti Bravi Productions, P.O. Box 62, New Rochelle, NY 10804

For further information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Arts Directory

Bronxville Public Library
Bronxville Public Library

The Bronxville Public Library traces its origins back to 1875, when it was a small lending library housed in a room attached to the “Bronxville Model School.” The Library was officially chartered in 1906 and moved into the Village Hall Building. The needs of the library grew with the town and, in 1942, a new standalone building was erected, which is where the Library is today. Over the years, the Library was renovated and expanded to meet the needs of the community.

The Library has wonderful resources for adults and children and offers a comfortable and relaxing environment. The Library also houses a fine art collection, consisting principally of Bronxville painters and sculptors.

The Library offers special events, art exhibitions, and programs for adults, young adults and children. All events are open to the public, unless otherwise indicated.

The Bronxville Public Library
201 Pondfield Road (Midland Avenue & Pondfield Road)

Concordia Conservatory
Concordia Conservatory

Concordia Conservatory, a preeminent center for music education in Westchester County, is a welcoming community where children and adults find lifelong inspiration and joy through learning, performing, listening to, and participating with others in music. Concordia Conservatory, a community outreach division of Concordia College, offers top quality music programs for early childhood, youth, adults and seniors. The Conservatory's vision is to enrich the lives of the people in our community through music.

Executive Director: Kathleen Suss
Concordia Conservatory of Music & Art

171 White Plains Rd
Bronxville, NY

Fine Arts Gallery of Bronxville
Fine Arts Gallery of Bronxville

99B Pondfield Road
Bronxville, New York 10708

Objects and Images Fine Arts
Objects and Images Fine Arts

117 Pondfield Road
Bronxville, New York 10708

The O'Silas Gallery at Concordia College
The O'Silas Gallery at Concordia College
Part of Concordia College New York, the OSilas Gallery integrates the visual arts into the cultural and educational life of our campus and community by providing quality exhibitions and programs that are diverse in style, content, and media. Our programs are memorable, thought-provoking, and spiritually enriching; and of artistic originality, integrity, and excellence.
Womrath Bookstore
Womrath Bookstore
Womrath Bookshop is a located in the heart of Bronxville village. In addition to selling books, the store also sell children's toys and holds readings both at the store and elsewhere in the community, such as at the Library.

76 Pondfield Road
Bronxville, NY
(914) 337-0199

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