Choreographer Janet Watson, wife to The Fantasticks lyricist-librettist Tom Jones died February 8th after a long illness. The past few years were difficult for Janet, Tom and their sons as her illness took over.
On Broadway Janet choreographed the Tony Award-winning original production of Big River. From the mid 1980s to the mid 2000s she worked extensively Off-Broadway including Mirette, Philemon, In the Bone Room, Portfolio Revue, The Show Goes On, the 1984 revival of Pacific Overtures, the 1996 revival of I Do! I Do!, Noel and Gertie and the 2006 revival of The Fantasticks, which is still running.
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she came to New York in the early 1960s after her older sister, Susan Watson, had her first big success as the original Kim MacAfee in Bye By Birdie. Susan originated the role of “The Girl” in the summer 1959 one-act version of The Fantasticks and later starred in the TV production.
Janet studied at the University of Colorado and danced with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. She became head of the dance department at Texas Tech for a time, and also worked extensively at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
She returned to New York in the mid 1970s to pursue a career as a choreographer.
Jones said his wife was “an incredible athlete” who was a competitive diver, a skater, and a regular competitor in the New York Marathon.
But in her professional life, Jones said, her special magic was the ability “to an actor who was maybe insecure and shy about movement, and make them truly believe they could move. That was her biggest gift.”
She is survived by her sister, her husband and their sons, Sam and Mike.
Several of the Jones\Schmidt shows and revues have found a home at The York Theater through the years. Janet’s husband Tom Jones is planning a memorial service at The York Theater on Tuesday, March 1st at 4:00 pm to celebrate her life for family and friends.
The York Theater is in the process of reconfiguring and revitalizing new seating for the theater. In an effort to raise funds, The York has decided to make individual seats available for “purchase” as a means to honor or give lasting memorial to friends of the theater. The cost was $2000. Each seat will have a plaque which honors the person in who’s memory it was purchased many of Tom Jones friends are buying them saying “Friends at The Fantasticks” to honor Janet for Tom.
Most of this article comes from Playbill.com written by Robert Viagas.