Human Race Theatre presents bawdy ‘Tom Jones!’

World premiere musical slated for Sept. 7-24.



The 18th century and the 20th century combine with sweet romance, farcical silliness and British Invasion-inspired tunes in “This is Tom Jones!,” a world premiere musical launching the Human Race Theatre Company’s 2023-2024 season Sept. 7-24 at the Loft Theatre.

Set in England and based on the classic 1749 novel by Henry Fielding which was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film in 1963, the story concerns Tom Jones, the charming young ward of Squire Allworthy, who is madly in love with Sophie Western and she with him. But when Sophie’s father arranges for her to marry Squire Allworthy’s loathsome and devious nephew, Blifil, she swears her undying love to Tom and flees for her life. Tom goes in search of Sophie, but hot on his heels are Sophie’s father, Sophie’s aunt, Squire Allworthy, and Blifil.

The show features book, lyrics and music by Mark Brown as well as music by Paul Mirkovich, who serves as musical director of NBC’s talent competition, “The Voice.” In an attempt to bring greater resonance to the story for contemporary audiences, Brown immediately envisioned having eras collide. Inspired by the Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, Sandie Shaw, The Troggs, The Animals and other artists of the 1960s, he set out to prove Fielding’s characters could still sound fresh.

“The (novel) was groundbreaking and the music of the ‘60s was groundbreaking,” explained Brown, a New Jersey native based in Los Angeles. “The score has songs that are somewhat familiar to the ear. Some songs may sound like a Beatles or Herman’s Hermits song. So, I thought that style fit this musical, allowing the 1700s to be informed by the 1960s. And there’s something so very particular about the ‘60s from the music and the fashion to the way young people were thinking at that time. It was a fun time, especially the music.”



‘It’s a good fit for us in a very fun way’

Brown’s plays include the widely produced “Around the World in 80 Days,” memorably presented by the Human Race in 2019, as well as “The Gentleman Thief” and “The Trial of Ebeneezer Scrooge.” “This is Tom Jones!” has not had an official reading or workshop so Brown views the rehearsal process as rewarding and eye-opening. He feels he has a better idea of how the show can evolve.

“It’s amazing to see (the show) up on its feet,” he said. “We’re discovering things as we go along. I’ve been tweaking and doing rewrites. I enjoy taking large stories and distilling them down to basically a two-hour show. Here, I’ve distilled it down to a boy-meets-girl story at its heart.”

During rehearsals, Brown realized the importance of elevating the women in the story with a more empowering mindset than Fielding devised. “None of the female characters are weak,” he said. “They are all very empowered which I like. All of the women in the show are tough and are not going to shrink from anything.”

“This is Tom Jones!” also marks the 13th world premiere production in the Human Race’s 38-year history. The company has established a track record of embracing new works, including last season’s outstanding “Indigo,” and organizers are excited to help Brown discover the material’s full potential.

“This show is super new and we’re approaching it like the paint is still wet, which is great,” said Human Race Artistic Director Emily N. Wells, who directs the premiere. “It’s a good fit for us in a very fun way. What Henry Fielding did so well in the novel was to take his obsession with human nature and make each character an archetype of that component whether it’s greed, lust, loyalty or avarice. And Mark has done a really great job of holding true to that. The cast is phenomenal and observing all the (changes) with glee.”



‘It’s really fun to tell an older story with a contemporary flair’

Nine actors portray 34 characters in this bawdy musical comedy. The cast consists of Jamie Cordes, Edwin Large, Sara Mackie, Eb Madson, Kyle Mangold, Kelly Mengelkoch, Melinda Porto, Patrick Earl Phillips, and Aleah Vassell.

Mangold, who most recently appeared as Steve/Jonathan in the off-Broadway production of “Stranger Sings a Musical Parody,” plays the title role. He finds Tom’s desire to be and do good very appealing and relatable.

“No matter who you are or where you’re from there’s always an opportunity to be a good person and do the right thing as much as possible,” said Mangold, a native of Newtown, Connecticut. “I want to convey Tom’s deep-down goodness, earnestness and selflessness that he gives to others – when he’s not getting himself into trouble.”

He also enjoys the show being infused with ‘60s musical influences, blending eras in the same fashion as a certain hit Netflix drama.

“It reminds me of the ‘Bridgerton’ string quartet, which plays songs from the (modern) era,” Mangold said. “It’s really fun to tell an older story with a contemporary flair.”

In addition to music director Steve Goers, the production team notably includes DCDC Artistic Director Debbie Blunden-Diggs, choreographing a Human Race production for the first time since “Crowns” in 2015.

“I’m such a collaborative person by nature so getting able to work on this show has been so much fun,” Blunden-Diggs said. “It’s not a show I would typically think falls in my wheelhouse, so it has allowed me to step out of my own comfort zone.”

As Brown excitedly prepares to release “This is Tom Jones!” out into the world, the audience is foremost on his mind.

“I’m hoping audiences will come in and laugh and have a good time,” he said. “I love writing things that entertain people.”


What: “This is Tom Jones!”

Where: Loft Theatre, 126 N. Main St., Dayton

When: Sept. 7-24; 8 p.m. Sept. 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, and 23; 2 p.m. Sept. 10, 17, 23 and 24; and 7 p.m. Sept. 10, 12, 13, and 20.

Cost: $10-$53

Tickets: 937-228-3630 or

More info:

Special Nights at the Loft:

Pay What You CAN: Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 8 p.m. Admission by non-perishable food donation for The Foodbank or a cash donation to benefit Victory Project.

Inside Track: Thursday, Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. Pre-show discussion at 7:15 p.m.

Industry Night/Sawbuck Sunday: Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. There are $10 tickets available beginning at 5:30 p.m.

While We’re On The Subject: Sunday, Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. Post-show discussion.

Parent’s Day Out: Saturday, Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. Kids separate activities (ages 5-12)

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